The funnel can be a long and lonely place for a lead, and marketers are always looking for easier ways to send and create better, more effective emails. Marketing automation is the tool that turns back-breaking manual work into a smart, scaleable ROI-driving machine.
Now, in the age of omnichannel, product data is more important than ever. Advertisers must find smart ways to manage product data in their marketing, adding product and purchasing opportunities to nurturing campaigns without wasting resources.
Here’s how to add products to your email campaigns and make your marketing automation even more powerful and sales-focused.
|Personalized product recommendations have also been shown to increase conversions by 150% and an average order value by 50%.|
Why add product data dynamically?
Nearly every online retailer and business already uses their product data feed on a regular basis. It’s most popularly used to help marketers advertise on Google, Facebook, and Amazon. However, it can also do much more. It can even help marketers create stronger nurturing campaigns by adding product data straight to emails. Instead of sending the same products to every user or hand-drafting emails to each segmented group, automation paired with data feeds means the campaign process can be simplified at a new level. That means products can be dynamically added to nurturing messages as needed. Plus, data-driven marketing automation isn’t just a practical time saver, it can drive better results.
When MailChimp wanted to test their customized recommendations tool, they sent emails to thousands and thousands of users. Interestingly, their results indicated that the hand-crafted messaging approach is often second to smart, product-oriented marketing automation. And in fact, their testing found that dynamically generated product recommendations performed better than the handcrafted alternative.
“We sent them out side by side to thousands and thousands of people, and we just tracked clicks and purchases and sure enough, the product recommendation emails made more money… Right there, that was sort of the green light for us. We should build this: It makes people money." -John Foreman, chief data scientist at MailChimp, Fast Company
Who can leverage this?
Product data isn’t just for online retailers. Of course, shoppers seeking shirts, games, and home products are obvious candidates for smart product recommendations, but anyone who sends out “products” in email form can benefit from this. Recruiters, travel agencies—if they use a product data feed, they can make their emails smarter and more automated.
No matter what you advertise, marketing automation and a clean product feed can increase sales and make marketing easier. Here’s how to get started and add product data.
Better email marketing: where and how to dynamically add product data
There are a number of ways product data can appear in an email campaign. When a retailer sends out a roundup of their latest products, the data feed can be used to dynamically add products most likely to spark that particular recipient’s interest. An advertiser sending an abandoned cart email can send products similar to those that were almost purchased. A job agency can even pull product data to automatically insert new job listings for a particular category.
However, simply adding products to your email campaigns won't drive clicks at scale. The key will be dynamically adding products that fit the user's profile. This requires the right marketing tools as well as a strong data feed.
All a business needs to get started is:
- Strong customer profiles to support realistic product matching
- A great marketing automation tool to pull together customer data, product data, and easy email delivery and analytics
- Recommendation generation techniques to properly pair products with customer profiles. Many marketing automation platforms will include this as a key feature
- A spotless and optimized product data feed to ensure the delivered product ads are irresistible
There are two key points in the marketing automation machine where you should add product data feed-generated offers.
First, there’s the behavior-based trigger. These are key moments where a user is most engaged and highly likely to open an email. Because they’re more likely to open and click, it’s crucial to put unique offers or product recommendations here.
Common behavior-based triggers include:
- __Abandoned shopping carts:__ The user has selected a product or two (or more), chosen to add them to their cart, and then, boom. Something happens and that user stalls at checkout. The user may still be considering the purchase or comparing the product against similar ones found elsewhere. Now is the perfect time to send a reminder as well as related products, just in case they were on the fence before.
- __Order confirmations and updates:__ Every shopper wants to know their purchase is on its way. That’s why we almost always click on order confirmation emails of any kind. Because the user is primarily looking for confirmation, keep this simple, sending uniquely relevant products rather than an overwhelming list of all your offerings. For example, a “complete the look” message with related products. Now that the user has made a purchase, and that purchase is still warm, remind them about anything else that may go along with it.
- __Welcome messages:__ Get users acquainted with your offers from the get-go by sharing most popular items or those uniquely relevant to their profile or data. Now is also a great time for time-sensitive incentives and promotions.
- __Birthdays:__ Everyone likes a special offer, and, because users expect a special offer in any birthday messages, they’ll be likely to click emails sent just for their special day. Now is the perfect time to stroke their ego and give them the deal they need to gift themselves something special.
- __Milestones:__ Has the user been a customer for a whole year? Did they just make their tenth purchase? Commemorating milestones in a user-brand relationship can help make that user feel more inclined to keep in touch and keep purchasing. It’s also a great time to let the user know that, after so many months together, your team can pinpoint some great deals that user is going to love.
The second option for better product marketing automation is in general nurturing campaigns. Newsletter subscribers, blog followers, and individuals in other campaigns have shown clear interest in the general product, now it’s just time to narrow them down to a particular sale.
Individuals receiving emails about job postings probably want to know more about specific offerings that are right for them. Subscribers to a trendy clothing shop or even a travel site’s newsletter are looking to learn more about trips and locations.
In short, there’s no reason for the modern marketers not to leverage product data feeds and automated retargeting or recommendations in their campaigns.
However, when adding products to nurturing emails be careful not to let them take over the email. If users have signed up for a blog newsletter, the primary objective should continue to be delivering a strong newsletter, using products to highlight your great content.
If you haven’t already, try adding the following product recommendations to your next campaigns:
“Complete the look”
Once you've got products dynamically slotted into your nurturing emails, it's time to start optimizing for best results. There are a few tips and tricks to always keep in mind.
1) Don’t settle for just one product or type of suggestion. Some users will respond to “similar products” suggestions. Some will love “most popular” collections. Others will enjoy a curated list of the trendiest products. If an email is going to include product listings, don’t stop at just one. Include a few different options so the user has plenty to choose from (without being overwhelmed).
2) Mix it up. Don’t send the same product lists email after email. Depending on where the user falls in the funnel, users will be better matched to different lists. A user in the top of the funnel may not be ready for a big purchase, and those who have been around for a while may have the “most popular” product list memorized.
3) Don’t give it all away. Users should be left feeling curious, so they don’t give them all the details right up front. In order to turn a case of “oh that looks nice” into a click, retain an amount of product information from the ad. Whether it’s specs or the final price, give the user an incentive to click rather than just look. Even if that doesn’t lead to a buy, that’s still another data point to help in the future.
4) Keep it short. “Top recommendations” shouldn’t include 50 products. Huge selections imply the brand doesn't really know the user, and it won’t be clicked through. A user will want to see only the most relevant products to them, so put your best foot forward.