Email marketing has long been one of the most powerful marketing channels for eCommerce. However, retail promotional emails, i.e., daily/weekly email campaigns, have not changed much over the last decade. The times are changing though: consumers spend most of their online time (including email) on mobile devices. With this shift, there is a need for more immersive, convenient shopping experience within your everyday emails. The mobile-era format of email marketing is about browsing and discovering relevant products directly from the email - presented in a device-friendly format, personalized, and auto-refreshed at the time you open the email. Add to all of this the ability to purchase items directly from email and you will realize that Jetlore is transforming traditional email campaigns into something we could not have imagined a few years back.
What is algorithmic merchandising?
Algorithmic merchandising is designed to replace the static email flyers that we all associate with traditional email campaigns. Think of email promotions from your favorite retailers screaming incentives and discounts: “free shipping today only”, “10% off if you use the coupon”, “20% off all accessories”. How many times did you delete or close such emails because you could not think of anything to buy? What if each of these emails let you see a glimpse of the products? The products would be personalized to you based on your prior purchases and any browsing activity you’ve done recently, as well as account for seasonal trends, hot sellers, and price reductions. These are not your standard recommendations for the item you left in your shopping cart. We mean diverse products different every day depending on the campaign and even different depending on when you open the email. This is what we call algorithmic merchandising.
Why does algorithmic merchandising matter?
Shorter path to purchase: It’s all about reducing friction for users to buy by removing the number of steps necessary for customers to find and buy an item. With traditional static email brochures, there are at least five steps from email to purchase:
Email open → Click and land on main catalog page → Navigate to a section page and locate an item → Click on item → Add to cart → Confirm purchase.
By placing the merchandise directly into the body of the email, the path to purchase is much shorter. But you cannot fit the whole product catalog into the body of the email, so you have to be selective. Jetlore’s engine predicts the next 6-30 items the customer is likely to consider based on customer’s prior behavior (product views, searches, purchases, etc.) and real-time inventory trends (auto-detecting top performing products and seasonal/daily trends). This eliminates the need for consumers to do browsing or extensive searching. A click on an item within the email leads directly to the item page and ultimately into your customer’s shopping cart all resulting in higher conversion rates.
The consumer shift to mobile: Majority of emails are getting opened on mobile phones now. Email is the largest marketing channel on mobile accounting for 27% of mobile retail orders. However, promotional email in its current format is not appropriate for mobile experience. More than 90% of promotional email sent by major retailers is not mobile-friendly: big banners and colorful pictures that, upon click, land you on the retailer’s catalog page. This does not fit the user experience model on mobile devices where the majority of users are engaged in some form of multitasking (walking, commuting, in the middle of a meeting, etc.) How many of us will tap on these banners and look for a product on the retailer’s web site when using our phones? The shift to mobile demands from retailers to bring their products directly into the email and shorten the path to purchase. Email design should be responsive rendering nice big tappable product images on mobile devices while generating compact grid of products on bigger screens. Emails should be smart enough to take users to a mobile app product page when we’re using our phones and redirect us to a standard product detail page on desktops. This is what Jetlore enables for retailers: not just smart algorithmic technology but a convenient and immersive user experience that fits the mobile paradigm.
Less email through smarter email: The amount of email we all get from retailers is increasing each year. The big increase in email volume is attributed to lifecycle marketing or email triggers. It is hard to deny the power of email triggers. They increase your conversion rates and help you reduce churn. But each trigger has its limits. Shopping cart abandonment emails that are repeated more than 3-4 times become a nuisance. When customers buy something, continuously bombarding them with product recommendations long after the initial purchase can have a negative impact on a customers experience. Especially when these emails stack up on top of the promotional emails that go out on a weekly or daily basis. Why not exploit cross-selling opportunities from prior purchases along with the user’s active browsing behavior as part of the merchandise featured in your daily email campaigns? If there is a 20% discount off all accessories today, why not feature accessories that complement user’s prior purchases as part of the promotion? The key is to make each email smarter not inundate customers with more email. If your daily promotional emails feature the right merchandise for each consumer, they will drive 20-50% more in sales without the expense of sending extra emails (in the form of triggers and other lifecycle marketing emails).
Content diversity is key to engagement: One of the challenges with promotional email is that it can get repetitive. Discounts and special incentives like coupon codes all sound great, but getting 10 to 30 of them from the same retailer each month eventually saturates consumers, especially in combination with other retailers. There is a natural need for email content diversity. Unless you have an army of content writers that could create fresh and engaging content for each of your promotional emails, merchandise is ultimately your best asset to feature. The problem is that you can’t hire a staff of editors to hand-pick and curate featured items. Even if you could, that’s expensive, not scalable, and won’t be effective in driving sales as featured products won’t be personalized and will sell out before reaching the majority of email recipients. This is where algorithmic merchandise wins. It is the fresh engaging content that nicely fills up the body of your emails at scale; always new, always different, yet relevant in the context of the current promotion and personalized to each customer. Diversity is key here: the standard shopping cart item recommendations would quickly get repetitive in daily campaigns. On the other hand, algorithmic merchandising would ensure day-to-day diversity of merchandise tracking not only what a customer bought and viewed on site but also what she has seen in emails previously and learn not to repeat items that do not draw interest.
Real-time shopping experience as part of the everyday email
To take it a step farther, imagine a one-click buying experience built directly into email. If you’re subscribed to the retailer’s newsletters, chances are you’ve shopped with them before and the payment information is securely saved in the retailer’s database. What’s stopping you from buying products directly from the email with one click or one tap? Of course, there may be a confirmation screen before the purchase is final, but it’s practically frictionless shopping directly from the email! it makes a lot of sense with the advent of the mobile commerce. All this becomes possible with algorithmic merchandising. Jetlore’s customers like eBay, Groupon, PayPal, and Linio already rely on this on a daily basis. Request a demo if you would like to learn more.