The Body Shop and How We’ve Built a Simple Recommendations Engine Within ExpertSender

We all know that recommendation services are convenient and effective. They show which products are viewed and bought on your website, analyze this data and provide an easy-to-use list of products which are relevant to your subscribers.

The real question is, what if you really want to use the product recommendations in your email communication, but such services are outside of your budget, or a security policy doesn’t allow you to install 3rd party scripts on your website? Maybe you just need a temporary solution while the task for connecting the recommendation engine is stuck in your IT team’s queue?

The Body Shop really stands out here. It is a popular nature-inspired cosmetics brand which, at the time, did not use a full recommendation service. However, they realized the value in implementing more personalization in their email messages. When our local team in Russia started looking into this, it turned out that the Body Shop was already storing transactional data from their CRM inside ExpertSender.

This was just enough to bridge the gap between their hopes and reality.

The Body Shop’s Story

We built a simple, easy to use recommendation engine for The Body Shop in house. To achieve this, we needed transactional data from three data tables, one SQL template and a pinch of coding 😊

Based on the transactional data, we calculated the favorite product category for each individual subscriber. The end result was that it accurately matched the category from which each subscriber made the most purchases.

To get there, we’ve built a custom SQL template which combined the data regarding products, categories and dates when a given subscriber ordered, with information about top products from different categories.

At this point we had a list of product IDs. All that was left to do was to determine their details and insert them into the communication. That’s where our Dynamic Content language comes in handy.

What was the result?

The result was an email template in which The Body Shop only had to adjust the banner and label. Product placeholders were filled in with top products from specific categories, which were picked for each recipient individually.

Template view – this is how it looks in the system:

How it looks from the client’s perspective:

Use What You Have

Actively use your hard-earned data! If you store information about your customers and their purchases, it only makes dollars and sense to use it to make communication more meaningful.
Addressing subscribers by their names, or congratulating them on their birthdays, hardly makes an impact anymore. Knowing what they’re interested in and offering products that are relevant to them? That’s what grabs attention.

Not having a lot of data, or a full-fledged recommendations service shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams. Even a little data, put to good use can give you an edge and help you with in building real personalization with your communication. You’ll be surprised with what our Experts can do for you, so don’t be afraid to ask! 🙂

Written by
Jakub Konieczny
Business Analyst at ExpertSender
Likes soccer and snowboarding.
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