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Open-Time Email Recommendations

How can I deliver real-time personalized email recommendations based on dynamic BlueConic customer profile data? Personalization with email recommendations via BlueConic CDPWith Open-Time Email Recommendations in BlueConic you can deliver dynamic, individualized content or product recommendations via email based on up-to-the-minute customer data.

Use the BlueConic customer data platform to send personalized recommendations to your email program. These recommendations are updated the moment your customers open their email.

Sending up-to-the-minute recommendations via email

With Open-Time Email Recommendations in BlueConic, you can email personalized product or content recommendations that update automatically when your customers open them. Here's how the open-time email personalization feature works:

  • Use BlueConic to collect items to recommend in a product store or content store using a BlueConic Product Collector or Content Collector.
  • Set up Open-Time Email Recommendations (see steps below).
  • Match customers' email addresses with their BlueConic profile. (Note that the email addresses used for the recommendations must be known in BlueConic.)
  • Choose recommendation algorithms that select items to recommend (up to 10 items).
  • We'll give you the HTML code snippet to paste into your ESP editor.
  • Send your email. The recommendations will update the moment your customer opens the email, even taking into account clicks, views, or changes that happen between the time you send it and the moment it's opened.

Follow the steps below to get started with personalized email recommendations that update upon opening.

Creating dynamic email recommendation sets

Here's how you can compose a set of up to 10 personalized, dynamic recommendations. Use the HTML code snippet you send to customers via your ESP (email service provider).

Create an Open-Time Email Recommendation connection

  1. Click Connections in the BlueConic navigation bar.
  2. Click Add Connection.
  3. A pop-up window appears. Enter "Open-Time Email Recommendations" in the Search bar.
  4. Click Open-Time Email Recommendations.
    The Open-Time Email Recommendations page opens. You can expand or collapse the metadata fields (favorite, labels, and description) at the top of the page by clicking the gray chevron at the top of the page.
  5. Enter a name for your recommendations set at the top of the page. This name is used inside BlueConic and isn't visible in the recommendations you create.

Configure your personalized email recommendations

In the left-hand panel, click Create Open-Time Email Recommendations and follow these steps, laid out in the import goal.

Note: This example shows content recommendations; product recommendations work the same way in BlueConic.

  1. Choose a BlueConic collector to gather content items or products to recommend.
    Recommendations in BlueConic are based on the products or content items collected by a Product Collector or Content Collector
  2. Select recommendation algorithms and filter rules that determine which items or products are recommended.
    Here you choose the rules that select recommendations (and optionally, fallback items) from available products or content items.
    How do I set up personalization with open-time email recommendations in the BlueConic customer data platform?
    Choose the number of items (up to 10 recommended items or products) and click the recommendation algorithm names (Breaking news, etc.) to select recommendation algorithms.
    How can I use personalization in BlueConic to send recommendations that update when customers open their email?
    Fallback items fill in any empty spots in your recommendations if the other recommendation algorithms or filters don't produce enough items for the space available.
  3. Design and preview the styling for your recommendations.
    Choose a template or customize the design that creates the image and title for each recommended item. Your email service provider (ESP) delivers the overall email message design; this step customizes the recommended item blocks. This preview shows a content recommendation block consisting of an article title with a background image from the content item.
    How can I preview email personalization using Open-Time Email Recommendations in BlueConic?
    To customize the template, click the select other link and choose from an example template (or create your own).
    How can I customize email personalization recommendation templates for BlueConic email recommendations?
  4. Identify how customers are matched between BlueConic profiles and your ESP. To match BlueConic profiles to email recipients, enter the ESP expression for your email platform from the list below. Note that you can match customers using any unique identifier, a profile property marked as 'unique identifier' such as customer ID, for example. The unique ID must be present in both BlueConic and the ESP, and your ESP must be able to personalize the email based on this unique ID.
    What are the email service provider ESP expressions for email platforms for BlueConic dynamic personalized email recommendations?
  5. Copy the recommendation HTML code block and paste it into the email message you send from your ESP.
    How do I create an HTML code snippet for personalization using open-time email recommendations in BlueConic?

Note: If the "utm_" or "bc_" parameter is included in an open-time email recommendation URL, that parameter will also be included in its tracking URL, allowing you to better track visits to that landing page—and any subsequent pages—and evaluate the effect of the recommendation. (This feature currently works for recommendations managed via the BlueConic REST API, JavaScript API, and the Export - Generate recommendations data processor.)

Testing your email recommendations

In some ESPs (such as Mailchimp), when you send a “test” email and then preview the message in the browser, recommendations will not be shown. This is because the ESP creates a test email subscriber for previews, and BlueConic recommendations require a user’s email or an identifier that matches a BlueConic profile in order to create and show recommendations.

If your product or content collector is empty, there will be no items to view in step 3. Choose a different product or content collector, or allow the collector time to gather items to recommend.

How does BlueConic choose personalized products to recommend in email recommendations using a Product Collector connection?

Learn more about content and product recommendations in BlueConic

Testing your tracking parameters

This connection supports adding tracking parameters to <a> hyperlinks in the mail snippet. To test this functionality:

  1. Pick one of the recommendations in the HTML snippet and make sure you already opened the image link. The connection expects and assumes the image link will be opened first. It might work incorrectly if you open the hyperlink first. This is because when the email is loaded it will load all images (same as opening the link manually) and only after that the receiver will click on the hyperlinks.
  2. Find the <a> tag and extract the link, which can be found in the href="<link>" attribute.
  3. Modify the extracted link to add tracking query parameters to it, for example: <link>&utm_source=mail&bc_type=marketing
    • Tracking parameters have keys that start with utm_ or bc_, other parameters will be ignored and stripped from the URL.
  4. Open the modified link in your browser.
    • It should redirect you to the product/content page and the URL should still have the tracking parameters you added.
  5. To test this one step further: Add a parameter that doesn’t begin with utm_ or bc_, such as test_. For example:
  6. These parameters should be stripped from the URL when opening the link in your browser.

Note: Some channels strip custom parameters from the URL on page load, and in this case, this might not work.

Adding the ESP expression for your email platform

To match customers between BlueConic profiles and your ESP, you need to add the ESP expression for your email provider. Use the table below to find the right ESP expression to use in Step 4 for matching BlueConic profiles to email subscribers on your ESP.

Email service provider (ESP) ESP expression Link to learn more
Acoustic %%Email%% Acoustic
Active Campaign %EMAIL% Active Campaign
Campaign Monitor [email] Campaign Monitor
Constant Contact $Subscriber.Email Constant Contact
dotdigital @EMAIL@ dotdigital
Higher Logic** %%EMAIL%% Higher Logic 
Hubspot {{}} Hubspot
iContact [email] iContact
Klaviyo {{ email }} Klaviyo
Listrak #Listrak\Email# Listrak (see page 149 of PDF)
Mad Mimi (email) Mad Mimi
Mailchimp *|EMAIL|* Mailchimp
Mailigen #[EMAIL]# Mailigen
Marketo** {{lead.Email Address}} Marketo
Omeda** @{email_address}@ Omeda
Oracle Responsys** ${} Oracle Responsys
PostUp [-emailaddr-] PostUp
Sailthru {email} Sailthru
Salesforce Marketing Cloud %%emailaddr%% Salesforce

** Note: For these marked email platforms, the email field name may be different.

Privacy management for personalization

The process of creating open-time email recommendations uses a BlueConic connection to the product or content store that holds recommended items. Connections can be added to Objectives, allowing for privacy management of the information that is being picked up. If you add this connection to an objective, it will only process the profiles of customers or visitors who have consented to at least one of the objectives the connection is linked to.



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