How to stand out from the crowd with email personalization

I was on a course recently where the practitioner asked us to reveal the highest number of unread emails we had ever had in our inbox. What do you think the highest number was? 100? 500? 1000?! Not even close. The winner was a guy in the back of the room who opened his smartphone to show 38,000 unread emails… Shocking, right?

According to recent research by The Radicati Group, ‘the number of emails sent and received per day totaled over 205 billion’ last year, with the average number of consumer emails received and sent (per person, per day) sitting at 93.1. You’re probably thinking “Hey, it’s an interconnected world we live in 93.1 isn’t so high”. But the truth is, with personalized text messagestext messages and messaging services such as Whatsapp taking over as methods of interpersonal communication, this figure can be predominantly attributed to inbound, commercial notifications (such as personalized ecommerce marketing).

That means that any email you, as an ecommerce professional, send to prospects and customers has up to 93 commercial emails to compete with. No wonder 52% of people say that they felt overwhelmed by the number of emails they receive on a daily basis.

The answer, of course, is to seek out new and innovative ways to stand out from the crowd. Good design is a must, witty and captivating copy too. But what else can you do?

With consumers turning off to blanket messaging in a bid to sift and filter through the noise it becomes imperative that you personalize your email communications to attend and appeal to the individual. There are a number of ways to do email personalization (clever segmentation, dynamic copy changes) but here we shall focus on product-level recommendations, based on a user’s browsing and buying behavior. This is a subject close to our heart with the recent release of our Personalization Widgets, which have enabled us to gather some interesting data points and actionable tips on the impact personalization in emails can bring.

Why include personalized product recommendations in emails that may not be product focused? Well, whatever industry, whatever you store – your products are what drives your business. Selling is your aim. And any touch point where you are not at least making a nod to this aim is effectively a wasted opportunity. This doesn’t mean you should turn your newsletter or other email communication into a piece of spam – but add another dimension to it with unobtrusive recommendations that support the existing work done in personalization of the store (the reason we chose small widgets to support this type of functionality).  

Yes, you could just add any product – a random selection if you will, but the art of selling is really about optimising every opportunity to maximise the chance of a return. As we have already shown these shoppers are in high demand, with little time or patience for what isn’t relevant to them. As a merchant your duty is to curate what you show them. This used to be a cumbersome task but luckily for you can now be entirely automated.

So, what might you show them? Consider the following:


Browsing history reminders:

Sometimes a recommendation can be as simple as prompting someone to pick up where they left off. People are busy, sometimes they see things they like, plan to come back and never make it. Or even worse, perhaps they make their way to your competitor’s site. By using your emails communications to give them a gentle reminder of the pieces they left behind you make it easy for them to find their way back to you and complete their purchase.

Personalized recommendations:

Personalized recommendation are similar to browsing history reminders but are weighted according to other indicators of interest, such as how often an item was visited or whether it was held in their cart. This allows you to prioritise those items that are most likely to convert according to your shopper’s taste.


Browsing history related recommendations: 

This type of recommendation goes one step further by suggesting relevant but alternatives items, based on those pieces that a shopper showed an interest in (but excluding the original items). This is useful in helping shoppers discover items that are in line with their taste when the original items were, for whatever reason, not quite the right fit.


Top lists:

Of course, if someone leaves an email address with you without exploring your site there are times when you will be left without enough data to properly personalize the email (other than with the aforementioned name tagging). In this case a good alternative is to use the space to highlight top lists. By promoting the best-sellers and top-trending items you’re showcasing what’s hot in your store right now, reflecting current trends and maximising your chances of conversion.

Note: If there isn’t enough data on an individual to fully personalize the recommendations then you might consider combining these approaches. Nosto, for example, will offer as many personalized recommendations as possible then filling any blank spaces with trending items.  

This can sound daunting, but, as mentioned earlier it is a process that can now be largely automated now- with behaviour tracking website personalization technology that is installed on your personalized website integrating with your existing ESP and automatically populating the recommendations.

If it all sounds too good to be true, consider this- Nosto client Bodybuilding Warehouse recently saw a 20% increase in email conversion when personalizing their emails in this way.

Bodybuilding Warehouse use the personalized reccomendation logic to show items that were previously viewed, weighted by level of interest. 


So, there we have it – a way to tailor your communications, enhancing your e-mail marketing a all without re-think your vendor strategy. And the good news (on top of everything else) is that there are practically unlimited use cases, so your imagination really is the limit.

Here’s to standing out in a sea of 38,000!

To find out how to Nosto’s Personalization Widgets might work for you watch this video guide or get in touch with one of our ecommerce specialists by pressing the button below.


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