How to Feature Personalized Product Recommendations in Emails

Rather than pushing random products, savvy ecommerce businesses are now plugging relevant products that serve customers' needs, via one of the most popular marketing tools—emails.
November 9, 2022
by
Harini Thiagarajan
How to Feature Personalized Product Recommendations in Emails

The ecommerce industry is projected to compound at an annual growth rate of 14.7% by 2027. To stay competitive, businesses are making the shift to personalized marketing, as a way to stand out from the rest.

A great example of personalized marketing is featuring personalized product recommendations in emails. Businesses that have  it down to a science can place relevant products in front of consumers, and with a direct impact on their bottom line.

Another good reason to build this capability is that by 2025, 376.4 billion emails are expected to be sent and received, globally! There's massive potential to leverage email as a platform to capture audience attention and drive them towards products that meet their needs and aspirations.

Perfecting your personalized product recommendation game, early on, will help businesses effectively leverage email as a communications tool .

At the same time, businesses need to ensure that they don't take personalization so far, that it gets alarming. There's enough evidence to indicate consumer backlash when personalized marketing borders on online surveillance.

Top Outcomes

In 2000, the largest online retailer in the world, Amazon, pioneered the trend of displaying product recommendations for online shoppers. Since then, almost all eCommerce businesses have adopted this approach, intending to drive 4 outcomes:

  1. Customer re-engagement is a key focus for most businesses, and featuring personalized product recommendations in emails drives customer engagement. Customers are more likely to be excited if emails highlight relevant products.
  2. Consumer interest is more likely to translate to click-through rates, which nudges customers to return to the platform and explore further.
  3. As customers begin subconsciously looking forward to emails that recommend relevant products, it also incentivizes them to shop more, which translates to revenue growth.
  4. The personalized product recommendation approach seeds trust and brand loyalty.

Here are some ideas on how to feature personalized product recommendations in emails without appearing intrusive.

Be Strategic With All Transactional Emails

Every ecommerce business sends a host of transactional emails. These can include confirmation emails, password resets, a welcome email, shipping authentication emails, order confirmation emails, and successful delivery notifications.

Consumers are most likely to check transactional emails because every one of them has a functional value. Ecommerce platforms and brands can capitalize on this behavior, by plugging relevant product recommendations, in a tasteful, eye-catching manner.

The email design must not be cluttered. Product displays must be striking yet not overwhelming.

Curate Special Days and Seasonal Emails

The year has several holidays and special occasions during which consumers are grappling with decisions on what to buy. They may end up scrolling through hundreds of products online, only to feel overwhelmed and exhausted from online shopping fatigue.

Consumers are also looking for fresh ideas for gifts to make them more meaningful and relevant to their friends and family.

Featuring relevant product recommendations and unique collections can ease the burden for consumers across occasions and special days - from Mother's Day and Christmas to anniversaries and birthdays.

Ecommerce businesses must get a headstart and plan yearly calendars to get out product recommendations on time.

As these emails land in the inboxes of customers, click-through rates will go up, and in turn, so will conversion rates and online revenues.

Nudge Consumers Towards Their Abandoned Carts

As of March 2021, consumers abandoned 80% of their shopping orders, with the highest rates being in the automotive category at 89.1%.

There are a host of reasons for cart abandonment - lack of trust in the product, high prices, and feeling undecided between multiple products.

For digital shoppers in the US, the top reasons for abandoning carts include high shipping rates, as well as discount codes that do not work. However, in many cases, consumers simply forget to complete purchases because they have been pulled into other activities.

Digital shoppers are likely to check emails with reminders of abandoned carts, and this is an opportunity to also plug in additional product recommendations, based on what they are already looking for.

For instance, if a consumer has left vegan chocolates in their cart, businesses can plug in additional collections of vegan chocolates. This offers a wide choice and also the potential to purchase more products.

Tap Into the Social Proof Cognitive Bias

Consumers tend to want to buy products that have been tried and tested by others. The knowledge that another consumer has already purchased a product inspires trust and safety when it comes to decision-making.

Known as "social proof", many marketers tap into this popular cognitive bias to build trust and sell more.

Showing off your bestsellers in emails at regular intervals nudges people to buy because consumers want social proof that something has worked. Adding reviews further nudges consumers to take a chance on a new product.

Loyalty Program Emails

Another type of email that puts a smile on customers' faces are loyalty program-related emails. They could be to share how many rewards points the customer might have won, or to announce unique offers.

When featuring personalized products in the email, you can also include how many rewards points a customer can win, to make the product appear more appealing.

Some brands also gift reward points on a consumer's birthday or anniversary. This is the perfect opportunity to also feature personalized product recommendations in the email, enticing the consumer to make a purchase.

Including relevant products based on the consumer's shopping history will make them more likely to purchase the product.

Flash the Latest Arrivals

Customers are always looking for fresh products that meet their evolving needs.

Categorizing personalized product recommendations under the "latest arrivals" tag triggers excitement. Some customers may also be inspired to buy out of a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), yet another cognitive bias exploited by marketers to nudge customers to shop more.

Engaging content can also be curated around new trends and how they might be addressing a consumer's concerns. For instance, if the email copy is about overcoming a dry scalp or managing a hyperactive pet, products such as a paraben-free natural shampoo or an engagement toy can be plugged within the copy.

Announce a Sale

Every month a slew of items go on sale, and many consumers are consistently looking for products at discounted rates.

A curated email around items on sale is a big draw for online shoppers, especially of products they keep browsing but for some reason are hesitant to buy.

Customers are more likely to make purchases, especially if they look forward to sales-related emails every month.

Appreciate Your Customers

Gratitude is a wonderful sentiment appreciated by millions of customers, especially when they have made an effort to recommend your products, make a huge purchase, or have participated in a campaign.

Once you’ve converted a subscriber into a loyal customer, it’s time to say thank you! Businesses are getting more and more innovative  crafting customer authentic and endearing appreciation emails. There's no harm in slipping in a few unique products and offers that a customer is likely to connect with while doing so.

We're Back in Stock!

Businesses lose out when a product that a customer desperately wants goes out of stock. However, sometimes due to supply chain issues, this situation is unavoidable.

By including out-of-stock products in an email, the customer is notified when it is available again. This offers a gentle and timely push, encouraging customers to make a purchase.

This action also builds trust and reliability in customers, as your business is proactively helping them meet their needs, rather than pushing random products.

You can also offer customer ratings as social proof to nudge customers to make purchases.

Category-Focused Emails

Another approach is to pull products based on the categories that a customer has historically shopped in.

For instance, if they tend to buy a lot of art supplies or outdoor travel gear, this indicates a little about the consumer's personality and interests.

When there are new products on offer in these categories, unique offers, discounts, or a collated email of relevant products can be shipped out. Such emails are sure to delight consumers and nudge them to make a purchase.

The Takeaway!

There's no doubt customers are looking to experiment with newer products and brands every day.

However, they are also looking to use products that genuinely serve their needs. They want to purchase products of brands that inspire trust and connect to their values.

By featuring personalized product recommendations in emails, customers are likely to explore what businesses have to offer, especially when their approach is not generic or ad hoc, but tailored to their real-time evolving needs.

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