Close this search box.

Why relevant product recommendations are the key to conversion

Saima Alibhai, managing principal consultant at Oracle Bronto on personalised recommendations.

Imagine this scenario playing out…You visit a high street store and seek the advice of their personal shopper. After you give them all sorts of information – your dress size, shoe size, the styles you usually wear – they return with an outfit almost identical to the one you’re wearing.

Wouldn’t you have expected more than that? Would you think less of the assistant, or even the entire store? Yet this exact type of interaction happens daily between retailers and consumers online with product recommendations, the online equivalent of the personal shopper.

Such a disconnect can quickly turn consumers off and send them searching for other options. They demand experiences that are personalised and expect relevant recommendations in exchange for sharing information about themselves.

When they’re done well, product recommendations are a powerful tool for connecting with consumers, making them feel like you truly understand them and are helping them to discover your products. They can be used in virtually any email, from day-to-day promotional emails and automated lifecycle messages, such as post-purchase and browse recovery, to order and shipping confirmations. So let’s quickly explore some of the dos and don’ts.

Be specific to the individual

Create recommendations that are subscriber-specific. ‘Listen’ to the data. Email subscribers give you all sorts of digital cues, from click activity and browse history, to preference data and purchase behaviour. This data allows you to generate more relevant results, which is particularly critical when using recommendations in a batch-and-blast message. By nature, these emails are often irrelevant to a majority of recipients but including targeted recommendations based on individual data can often be enough to capture interest and inspire action.

Target your purchase-related messages

Using recommendations in both transactional and post-purchase messages should be a no-brainer. You can offer specific recommendations to sell complementary items. Did
a customer buy a pair of boots without waterproof spray or a hat and scarf without the matching gloves? This is the perfect place to cross-sell the customer and showcase your entire range of merchandise.

Avoid ‘just for you’ subject lines

Have you ever received a message that claims to be “just for you?” Yet, when you open the message, the results aren’t relevant to you and the retailer’s behaviour, along with all credibility, is lost? I know I have. If you were to receive another message from this brand containing that same subject line, would you open it? Doubtful. Instead, go with a message such as ‘top sellers’, ‘customer favourites’, ‘highest rated’, ‘new additions’, ‘picks of the month’, ‘most viewed’ or ‘staff picks’. These will set the right expectation level for subscribers.

Make recommendations work for you

When it comes to recommendations, ignoring your data is the worst thing you can do. Think of yourself as that personal shopper, helping the customer to discover relevant products in your range. When your customers offer you information, use it to meet their needs and expectations. If you don’t, they’ll begin to feel undervalued and lose faith in your brand. They trust you – don’t give them a reason to stop.


Oracle Bronto arms high-growth retailers with sophisticated marketing automation to maximise revenue opportunities. The Bronto Marketing Platform powers personalised multichannel content that generates the higher engagement needed for retail success. Keenly focused on the commerce marketer, Bronto continues its longstanding tradition as a leading email marketing provider to the global Internet Retailer Top 1000 and boasts a client roster of leading brands, including Euro Car Parts, and OKA.

For more information, visit

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on