With so much competition in the marketplace, getting the right product in front of the right subscriber at the right time is paramount. Consumers crave a more personalized experience and have even come to appreciate more targeted recommendations. According to Pulse Check 2016, a report by Accenture Interactive, two-thirds of consumers said they are more likely to make a purchase from a retailer that sends them relevant and personalized promotions. And shoppers aren’t the only ones benefiting from this trend. I’ve seen clients realize upwards of a 250% revenue increase by including personalized product sets in their recommendations, as opposed to generic ones or none at all. What do you need to do to drive such revenue through personalization? Create a reliable product feed. In his recent blog post, my colleague Brian Krug outlined some great tips for successfully implementing a product feed and identified some of the key attributes to bring in for each product. Let’s take a deeper look at the strategy behind your product feed and how to successfully leverage it in your email campaigns.

Make it Work for You

To determine what you need in your product feed, start by working backward. What do you want to accomplish? Not only right now, but in the long run. Planning ahead will help you avoid having to continually change the feed and how it’s imported. Run through a variety of scenarios. What types of products would you want to show to certain subscribers at certain times? Why? In each case, what criteria would you need to be able to identify the right products? These are the attributes you’ll want in your product feed. You’ll need the simple logistical information, such as availability or inventory, that should be no-brainers but can often be overlooked, as well as more robust categorizations for segmentation – think product category, sale information or customer ratings. You want to be sure your product feed has the necessary data points to show each subscriber just the right items. Don’t focus only on what products to put in front of a subscriber but also how you want to filter them. How would you want them sorted? And are there products you would need to exclude, such as those at a very low price point or items with little to no margin? What about deeply discounted sale items? When it comes to fine-tuning how the products are displayed, you’ll need to be able to leverage that criteria from your catalog, so these data points should also be included within your feed.

Reap the Benefits

Even if you’re currently using a product feed only for its most rudimentary features, it’s still providing a valuable gain for you and your team that should never be overlooked – saving you time! Using a product feed enables you to use attributes in your messages without having to populate each product’s data individually. Typically, to display the product details for a set of six items, you’d have to build the section for each item separately for each email. But a product feed allows you to create that section once with “placeholders” for each of the products. Then, when you compose a new message, you can easily set the SKUs for each item and all the product details will be populated automatically. This change in process can save a lot of time in the long run. Beyond that, your product feed allows you to use the criteria you’ve identified to narrow products down to sets that are personalized for each subscriber and where they are in their journey with your brand. You might choose to hand-pick SKUs based on a customer segment you wish to target or simply use the product feed to make it easier to load the products for the weekly new arrivals email. You may even go so far as to craft a very personalized post-purchase campaign that puts predictive recommendations in front of a customer based on what they’ve bought in the past. You could include products that they browsed in your welcome series, and sort products by highest margin to drive the most profit from sales. The possibilities are endless. To take it one step further, consider coupling your product sets with dynamic content for an even deeper layer of personalization. Did a customer sign up in the footer after browsing various pages on your site? Include the products they browsed in their welcome message. Did they sign up from the pop-up before exploring the site? Send them best sellers. All of this can be done within the same message, saving you time and effort, and maximizing the results of the product suggestions each subscriber sees. And always set fallbacks so that no one is left without their own next-most-valuable product queued up and ready to go.

Test, Test, Test

Once your product feed is up and running and you’ve begun to get those product sets in front of your subscribers, be sure to test. You can test the overall products or even what product attributes to display. Perhaps you see much higher click-through rates when you’re displaying both the full price and current sale price. Maybe a campaign performs better with no price displayed. Perhaps buyers respond much better to suggested products that are based on what other customers bought as opposed to what they browsed. Should you use a button for each product? These are all things you can and should test to maximize the benefits of a robust product catalog and feed. Enriching your product feed will propel your email marketing to a new level. While the initial setup will require some planning on your part, you’ll reap the benefits long-term. And your customers will thank you for a much better brand experience!