How a Custom Product Feed Powers Personalization and Browse Recovery

Brian Krug, Senior Consultant, Professional Services

Brian Krug, Senior Consultant, Professional Services

Over the last few years, much of our marketing automation software’s advancement in functionality has centered around a critical element of your ecommerce marketing program – the product catalog.

Initially, configuring a connector and bringing your products into the Bronto Marketing Platform had some very cool, but somewhat limited functionality. Essentially, you could feed your full product catalog into the platform – and through some fancy footwork, you could tell us what product and attributes you wanted to include in your messages, and Bronto would make that wish come true with pre-built and custom templates. Saving you time, one product at a time.

More recently, we’ve taken that functionality to a whole new level. With Browse Recovery and Recommendations Premium (personalized product recommendations), Bronto has turned what had been a simple time-saver into the cornerstone of our most advanced functionality.

Many of our clients have used the product catalog to improve their Cart Recovery messages and fire off advanced API messages that are rich with product data.

Bottom line: Now is a great time to look at your brand’s product feed foundation.

Recycled vs. Custom Product Feed

In general, most users find they can accomplish their goals using the same feed they push out to other vendors or use for Google Merchant Center. So, we built our original requirements to allow that. Recycling an existing feed gives you basic functionality at no additional cost.

However, if you have your eyes on a future filled with personalization or browse recovery, you’ll want to keep reading to understand the significant value a custom product feed, or more refined approach, can provide. Simply put, a custom product feed can super-charge your revenue generation by optimizing your use of marketing automation.

As with all data tables in the Bronto Marketing Platform, we need a unique identifier for every entity. With the product feed, that is your product ID. From each product ID, we can connect to some standard attributes – title, price, sale price, image URL, product URL and so on. The standard rule is that if you want to include a product in your message, that product must be in your product catalog. Your account provides 30 pre-defined product fields and up to 50 additional, custom fields.

Advanced Product Filtering

In addition to displaying products in your messages, our Browse Recovery and Recommendations Premium apps allow any attribute in your product catalog to be used for advanced filtering.

For example, the simple attribute category can be used to recommend similar products (think furniture > kitchen and dining room > tables) or can be used to trigger a recovery message to reach a shopper who viewed a set of products in that category, say, four or five different times.

What if, instead of using that category, you could recover an entire style? By adding a different attribute to your feed such as “collection” or “lifestyle,” you can redirect Browse Recovery or Recommendations Premium to instead show off that amazing dining room set and keep your recommendation results limited to that collection.

Here are a few of my favorite product feed attributes, beyond the basics:

1. Availability – Isolate back-ordered and available products for inclusion or exclusion.

2. Availability date – Promote new arrivals.

3. Average rating – Sort your product results by rating, or only market crowd favorites.

4. Brand – Build the message around a specific brand for consistency.

5. Gender – Focus on relevant content for your users (male/female/gender-neutral)

6. Inventory threshold (minimum inventory) – Market only items that are in stock.

7. Keywords/features – Highlight similar types of products (e.g., weatherproof).

8. Margin – Focus your efforts where you’ll get the best return. For example, recommend only products above or below a certain profit margin.

9. Mobile image URL/alternate image URL – Use alternate images to ensure every message has the look and feel you want.

10. Parent product ID – This attribute relates or defines a group of variants (e.g., shirt sizes). Parent product ID is great for limiting or excluding variant products (e.g., T-shirt size) but must be its own item and an attribute of all variants, as you can see in this sample product feed:

11. Product category – This can be the end category or delimited category path.

12. Quantity – This is the quantity of the product you have on hand.

13. Sale price effective start date – This is the date and time when the sale price for this product will begin.

14. Sale price effective end date – This is the date and time when the sale price for this product will expire.

Strive for Complete, Relevant and Up-to-Date

Be sure to bring in the proper attributes, and remember: Your product feed should be as complete as possible – it must include your active products and the attributes that contain values for each of those products. Make sure that the attributes you bring in deliver the value you want. Remember, email optimized images, succinct product descriptions, consistent naming conventions and formatting all contribute to message quality.

Automate your feed to import, if possible, to keep the most up-to-date data in the feed. This will be very important if you want to use product recommendations in your messages. We recommend bringing in your feed one time each day on the hour following your feed refresh. If your inventory rapidly turns over, also consider using our REST API service to update your quantity attributes.

Ensure that you’re using consistent product IDs across all data points in your account. For example, the line-item SKU must match the product ID on your product feed and the product ID on your website. Applying these tips will ensure you get the most from your Browse Recovery and Recommendations apps.

For more information, check out these helpful resources in the Bronto Marketing Platform help documentation: Using Product Tags in your Messages, Include Product Data in Cart and Order Tags, and Recommendations Standard. Of course, if you have further questions, please reach out to your account manager.