Iuliia Nesterenko

Technical Writer

Product Recommendations for Email: Why to Use & How to Create

Product recommendations are a separate block in the email that displays recommended items based on the algorithms you set. Its appearance may differ, but whatever it is, the block consists of product cards with certain information – product image and name, and optionally price and CTA. The content for this block is taken straight from the website so all the info is inserted automatically. It’s up to you to configure the number of cards, their placement and appearance.

e commerce recommendation system

Email product recommendations can be bulk and personalized. The bulk are often used in promo campaigns and in messages to new users on which you don’t have enough behavioral data. Personalized recommendations are most often put in triggered campaigns: abandoned browse, abandoned cart, order confirmation, etc.

You can show recommended items based on different algorithms:

  • Bestsellers;
  • Most viewed;
  • Similar products;
  • Personal recommendations;
  • New arrivals;
  • Price drop, etc.

For bulk recommendations, the product recommendation system picks the most relevant random items; personalized recommendations are built based on the particular recipient website behavior (visits, views, orders, abandoned carts) that is monitored via web tracking.

In the email, the block with recommendations often has a title:

  • You may also like;
  • People who viewed this also bought;
  • Our favorites;
  • Recommended for you;
  • Essentials;
  • Back in stock;
  • Sales;
  • Limited edition

You can also come up with any custom text that fits your campaigns

e commerce recommendation

Product recommendations can be used in all types of email – from welcome to post-purchase – where they may serve different purposes:

  • Introduce new products;
  • Focus on a certain product category;
  • Focus on sales or discount offers that otherwise can be missed;
  • Complement selected items;
  • Increase the average order value;
  • Add content to the copy.

How to Use Product Recommendations in Emails

Although a recommendation is just a card with an item, and there is seemingly nothing special about it, there are different techniques that can help you take full advantage of this email tool.

  • Use recommendations in welcome emails with a promo code.

As a rule, welcome emails are short and non-promotional. They serve to welcome a new subscriber and maybe tell a bit about the company and its team. However, if you send a welcome email with a promo code as a gift to a newcomer, dynamic product recommendations may help them decide how to use this promo code.

The best option will be to offer bestsellers of several categories or of the preferred category (if the recipient has specified one while subscribing).

ecommerce product recommendation

  • Compare old vs. reduced price for discounted items.

When you send sales campaigns or offer seasonal discounts, it’s a good idea to include in a product card both prices – original and reduced one, especially if the digit in currency is bigger than the digit in percentage. 25$ off may sound more appealing than 10% off to many.

personalised recommendation

Personalized Product Recomemndations for Email Marketing

  • Create a solid look with complementary products.

A block with complementary recommendations can be a fit for promos, order confirmation, upselling and cross-selling emails. However, you can go beyond Also bought and build your advice around one item. It’s especially applicable for fashion ecommerce recommendations: selling looks not items is a big thing now.

For example, you send a promo with a focus on one thing, dress or coat. Recommend things that complement the piece: bag, shoes, hat, or gloves. Idly, they should fit in terms of color, material, pattern and style so that the recipient has a ready combo to wear together.

best recommendation engine

The same approach works for decor. When the customer buys a sofa, recommend them not only similar items but the items that would fit this particular sofa: cushions of the same style and color, knitted blanket, floor lamp to place at the head.

recommendation system for ecommerce

  • Add similar products to abandoned browse and abandoned cart emails.

People may abandon browsing your website for several reasons: they entered it without a particular purpose, navigation is poor, price is high, load is slow, or they don’t like what they see inside. However, the most common cause is that they can’t find what they need right now.

The purpose of the abandonment emails is to lead people in the right direction, and personalized product recommendations are a useful tool to help people find what they’ve might have missed on and complete the purchase. What’s more, recommendations for abandoned browse and cart are built based on the user activity on the website, meaning they’ll be personalized and tailored to each particular recipient.

product recommendation tool

  • Add animation.

As a rule, product cards include item images, but you may spice up your recommendations by adding animation or GIF instead. This will be especially relevant for emails with several different blocks of recommendations to draw a visual difference between them.

recommender system for ecommerce

  • Use a transparent background for Dark Mode.

To optimize your images for Dark Mode (or if you intentionally use dark design), use a transparent background for product images. A white background is also possible to reach contrast or better visibility, but if you choose it, make sure the size of all image containers is the same. Otherwise, the layout will look disproportionate in Dark Mode.

Block wit hrecommendations

Last post

How to Create Product Recommendations for Email in the eSputnik System

We at eSputnik know how beneficial product recommendations can be for your emails. That’s why we’ve implemented an all-in-one functionality that enables to create them within one personalized recommendation system.

1. Upload a product feed. A product feed is a file (CSV, TXT or XML) that contains information about products on your website (image, title, product identifier, marketing copy, attributes). It is used to transfer product data to marketing platforms so that it’s further used for displaying items in emails.

To add product feed to the eSputnik system, you need to activate web tracking and upload the feed file in XML, RSS 2.0 according to Google specifications. Set up update frequency (every day, every week, custom) so that the info transferred to emails corresponds to the info displayed on the website. You can upload only one product feed for one website.

Read more detailed instructions on web tracking installation.

recommendation system based on product purchase analysis

2. Create a data source. A data source is the connection between the product feed and product recommendations in emails. While a product feed is a general list of all products on the website, a data feed specifies what exact type of recommendations (bestsellers, price drop, etc.) and number of items will be displayed in particular emails.

You create a data source straight in the system and select from the given algorithms which number is constantly updated. You can create several data sources for different types of emails.

Algorithms

3. Create a template with dynamic blocks or use ready ones. To insert the necessary data from data sources to emails, you need to use dynamic blocks with configured parameters. A parameter transfers information about the particular item. In our system, the default parameters are image, item name and price, but you can add and configure your own (for example, old price).

This is how a ready template with dynamic blocks looks like. You can use it in full, or save separate blocks or containers as a module and use in further emails. At the moment of the campaign launch, the system will automatically fill the cards with data from the website, so your recipients will see only the relevant information.

recommending products to customers

You can edit the design of the template or its separate elements, including dynamic blocks, as you like. However, when designing, try to consider the outlook of your cards on the website so that after insertion the whole layout looks smooth.

4. Assign a data source to the blocks. You need to assign the data source to the corresponding blocks so that the system knows which items to show in which cards. The procedure is rather easy: click the stripe with the necessary block (You recently viewed), open Code editor, and find in the code - #foreach($!item in $!data.get('history')) for this block.

recommending products to customers

Enter your data source name instead of the value in brackets.

Code

Now configure parameters for each item in the block with recommendations, and this is it – your email is ready to be sent.

Read more detailed instructions on how to add blocks with product recommendations to emails.


The more your audience sees personalized product recommendations that fit their current needs, the bigger the response would be. Use them for promotions, upselling, cross-selling, and re-engagement to lead people from prospects to customers, encourage completion of the intended purchase and increase the average check.

Experiment with the recommendation algorithms, card placement and appearance, and even the number of items. Your audience’s reaction will be the best proof you’re moving in the right direction.

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Iuliia Nesterenko

Technical Writer

A technical (but still very creative) writer at eSputnik with a strong focus on design, current digital marketing trends, and new solutions for email automation.

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