Every business wants their customer to associate their brand with positive feelings. They want to inspire admiration, advocacy, and even obsession. That is the business of the brand marketing team — to align their company’s image with the values of the customer.
On the other hand, there is the business of the product marketing team, which is slightly different. Achieving brand awareness and positive impressions is certainly an important goal for any company.
Still, at the end of the day, the esteem of a brand doesn’t necessarily translate into the business's health. Only sales can do that.
In a perfect world, the goals of accomplishing positive brand association and increasing sales work hand in hand. A good product leads to a sale. A good experience within that sale leads to loyalty, and the cycle goes on and on.
Today, we’re going to focus on the latter goal — how do you market a product to encourage a sale using recommendation emails? Yes, emails. Before you click away, it’s worth noting that email marketing generally delivers about $42 in ROI for every dollar spent. It’s effective, it’s trackable, and it’s ripe with opportunity.
Why Do We Recommend Product Recommendation Emails?
Email marketing campaigns tend to be scattered and complicated for a good reason. A well-oiled email campaign should be sending different messages to different customers at different times, depending on where they appear in the sales funnel.
Product recommendation emails are an essential piece of that puzzle.
Essentially, the term describes any email which focuses primarily on a product as the central message of the email. There can be other strategies at work like expressing your brand’s personality, communicating a sale, or displaying your brand’s signature aesthetic, but first and foremost, the emphasis is on the product or products.
So, why are product recommendation emails so effective?
They Shine a Spotlight
You know what they say, nothing kills a bad product faster than good marketing. Products are the point of why we’re in this business. Advocating for their value is perhaps the principal goal of marketing across nearly every vertical.
Product recommendation emails allow you to focus.
In many ways, the task as a marketer is more straightforward. You don’t necessarily need to find creative strategies to express the message in the way that other email campaigns call for.
Customers expect to see product spotlights and recommendations within their email inboxes. The task for marketers is to decide the simplest and most easy-to-understand way to deliver that content.
They Can Be Automated
Automation and product recommendation emails go together like peanut butter and jelly. We’ll touch more on this later, but personalization, showing customers products they’re already considering, is one of the most powerful ways to reach people.
Using marketing automation software, you can set up your campaign so personalized product recommendation emails go out at the right time, reminding customers of their previous desire to make a purchase.
Automation takes so much guesswork out of the marketing equation.
Perhaps most importantly, product recommendations are proven to be effective at inspiring click-throughs. Some studies have shown that email product recommendations can increase the click-through rate by upwards of 300%.
Many marketers tend to get caught up in the bells and whistles. Some try too deliberately to be coy or understated, but the facts remain that clear CTAs, high-quality product imagery, and simple language tend to win out over anything else.
In this day and age, people understand what marketing is. We’re not fooling anyone by being subtle. Market the product on purpose, ask people to do what you want them to do, and you’d be amazed at the number of positive results you’ll begin to see.
What Are Different Kinds of Product Recommendation Emails?
That said, let’s talk about some of the different types of product recommendation emails because it’s really more of an umbrella term under which many emails fall.
The Cart Abandonment Email
First is the cart abandonment email.
As we mentioned before, this is one of the most common forms of product recommendation emails, and with good reason. On average, at least 75% of consumers that add an item to their cart will leave the site without making a purchase.
Why? Often it has to do with hidden costs like shipping fees, a slow site, or simple apathy. Cart abandonment emails can help with that.
They often show images of the product or products from the cart and include language like, “These are still waiting for you,” or, “Don’t forget about these.”
If you consider marketing as a way of reminding customers about their desires, then the cart abandonment email is a best-in-class example of that.
The Browse Abandonment Email
Similarly, there is the browse abandonment email. This follows the same principles and strategy as the cart abandonment email, but it’s for customers who didn’t add anything to their cart. These customers will have browsed, clicked around the site, and then, for whatever reason, left before making a purchase.
As is the case with everything in email marketing, the more data you have, the better. If a customer arrived on your landing page and immediately clicked away, you won’t have much information on what they were looking for.
Contrastingly, if they came to your website, searched for a specific category like “sweaters,” and then spent several minutes looking at one particular sweater, you have a better sense of what you can include in your follow-up email for more success.
In the case of customers who have offered no or little data on what they’re interested in, you might consider something like a newsletter email.
These product recommendations are based on overall customer data rather than the data coming from one person in particular. For example, ahead of a holiday season, you might send out a newsletter email with a list of best-selling Christmas gifts.
You’re nudging the customer towards a new product rather than a product they’ve already seen.
There’s also an opportunity within newsletter emails to show related products, whether they’re individual components of an outfit, similar items with different features, or products that other customers have bought together. This is an idea known as cross-selling.
The Post-Purchase Email
On that note, there is an opportunity to drive to related products within the post-purchase email. Post-purchase emails describe any email sent between a customer making a purchase and the same customer returning to the status of a potential sale.
This generally constitutes a confirmation email, a shipping email, and a follow-up email asking for feedback. Within each of those emails is an opportunity to spotlight related products. Many big retailers make some errors within post-purchase product recommendations.
They might send a variation of the same product, which begs the question, why would a customer need a variant of something they just purchased?
For that reason, it’s important to employ a bit of strategy with these recommendations. If they just purchased paper, they might also be interested in pens. Data can and should inform these decisions.
The Miss You Email
After a few weeks or months pass and a customer has not made a new purchase, brands often send emails to check in. These are known as “miss you” emails. You’ve probably seen these in your inbox before.
These emails are great for reminding the customer that your business is out there and also present the opportunity to spotlight a new product that wasn’t in the store before but might be of interest based on their past behavior.
What Are Tips for Refining Product Recommendation Emails?
Now that you understand what product recommendation emails can include, let’s go over some tips for optimizing them.
Segment, Segment, Segment
The more personalized you can make your recommendations, the better. Try to avoid sending the same thing to every customer.
Check out more details on segmentation if you’re interested.
Include Large, High-Quality Imagery
You want customers to really get a good look at the product you’re showing them. Words can go far in describing something, but there’s no replacement for an image.
A high-quality, minimalist design will place emphasis on the product and leave the rest in the customer’s hands.
Rely on Data
We hate to harp on this, but data is your best friend in email marketing. Test relentlessly to make sure that your recommendation algorithms are sophisticated and always evolving.
This will pay off. Brands that always include an A/B test in their emails generate an ROI of 48:1.
Last Thoughts on Product Recommendation Emails
Product recommendation emails may not be the most exciting marketing execution, but they certainly have the potential to be one of the most effective.
Above all, the important thing is to remember the context. The information you have around a customer’s past behavior, demographics, and time since their last purchase can and should inform the recommendations you offer them. If you properly consider context, you can give them a personalized and foolproof recommendation that will undoubtedly take them one step closer to making a purchase.
For more tips and trends on email marketing, check out our comprehensive list of the most effective and exciting strategies today.