Everything You Need To Know About Dynamic Email Content

dynamic email content
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What if you could create personalized emails without crafting a whole bunch of them? That’s the dynamic email content for you which is like a precious stone that shines differently depending on how you place it against the light. Poetic, but the comparison stands.

In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about dynamic email content: how it works, why you need it and when you’re better off without it.

What is dynamic email content?

The dynamic email content is email content that varies across subscribers according to a variable. It’s simpler than it sounds.

Essentially, you craft one email template for a mass email campaign but part of it looks different depending on the recipients. Usually, it’s about a piece of text, visuals or a call to action — parts you can customize.

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We create one email which kind of serves as a template. Segment 1 of our audience will see Version 1 of the email while Segment 4 will receive Version 4 of the same email. For example, if we think that Siamese cats buy more with a special call to action directed at them, that’s how we design it

To make dynamic email content possible you need a lot of data about the users of your product because with data, you can segment your contact list. Only when you’ve got this, you can plan mass email marketing campaigns that include dynamic content.

For example, if you can segment your contact list by location, this can be a great starting place. Say, your subscribers in New York and Seattle will receive different versions of the same email.

Key benefits of using dynamic content in your email marketing campaign

Dynamic email content is a part of email personalization because it places customers at the heart of everything. Marketers use dynamic email content to make their campaigns tailored to subscribers’ needs. So, here’s how it may influence your email marketing campaign:

  1. It improves the customer experience

Stats show that 72% of customers only engage with marketing messages if those match their interests and needs. No wonder — you can see this trend on social media platforms: you never know what you’ll see next on Instagram but most likely it’s something that interests you. Ecommerce is no different as the customers now expect content to be in sync with their wants.

  1. It increases engagement

That’s pretty easy: more relevant content = bigger chance of a click and a purchase. If you’re a cat owner and a pet shop sends you emails with special offers on cat products, you’re more likely to buy than if they sent you stuff for parrots.

  1. It saves time

This is big for email marketers. No more need to create multiple campaigns to suit all segments of your audience. Now you can craft one email, set a variable and roll with it.

Different types of email marketing dynamic content

Typically, dynamic email content is about one variable: a piece of text, a visual or a call to action. Let’s look at what you can do with these.

A piece of text

Imagine you want to give two of your co-workers a tangerine to make them smile. For some, it’ll be enough to put a tangerine on the desk and they’ll understand; for others, you’ll have to hand it over and explain what it’s for. Same offer — different approach.

That’s the analogy for when you tweak your text with dynamic email content — you change it depending on the recipient. Play with sentences or entire paragraphs to create a more targeted and personalized email for each subscriber. And don’t forget, you can also play with the subject line.

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It’s practically the same email and offer but the main text differs. The left one is for the laid-back cats who love a doze (don’t ask, just imagine we send emails to cats) and the right one is for attentive movie lovers

Visuals

Different visuals for the same product are a bit like billboard advertising across the city. You put a billboard here, a billboard there. Each sells the same thing but has a different image.

With emails, you can add 100% the same text but include different images and color schemes. If you think this makes the most sense and will drive conversions, go for it!

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Visuals highlight different emotions. For example, the same text can have different imagery and thus convey different emotions

Call to action

Toying with a CTA seems like the minimum amount you can do with dynamic content but it may be worth it. Play with the wording, colors or even email fonts on your call to action to see what results it brings.

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Like visuals, CTAs can set a tone with their appearance. For example, a red CTA with a more pronounced font may be more appealing for some of your subscribers

What you need to make dynamic email content work

Let’s wrap up what you need to get a campaign with dynamic email content going.

  1. Gather the necessary data

First you need to know your subscribers to plan any strategy on segmentation. You’ll have to collect this info when building your email contact list. No secret sauce here — here are some common starting points to help you pick out the segments in your audience:

  • Demographics: age, sex, education, employment status, income level.
  • Psychographics: interests, beliefs, political views, hobbies.
  • Customer behavior: past purchasing history, website activity, email engagement.
  • Subscriber preferences: what type of content people sign up for when giving you their emails.

But don’t just get stuck with it. Get to know your customers more if you can. Know your product well, too, and your customers’ lifecycle. The more you know, the more you can customize dynamic content and make it personalized.

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According to this statistic, the most common data points for personalization are location, past purchase history and demographics. Source: VentureBeat
  1. Pick a variable

After you’ve collected the right data, you have to decide on the dynamic part of your email. What is it that you want different subscribers to see?

Don’t try to change all the blocks — it’ll just start to look like a totally different email campaign. Only pick the blocks you need. Resist the urge to make the most of email templates and use every customization tool available.

  1. Choose segments

Now you have to pick segments among your subscribers to decide who gets what version of an email. Segmentation helps create more personalized messages, it is basically sending the right emails to the right people.

You can segment by age, gender, location, behavior and pretty much anything else we’ve listed above (even the Zodiac signs if your subscribers believe in astrology — or just for fun).

Segmentation long precedes dynamic content and begins at the stage of gathering data. Use website registration forms, analytical tools (Google Analytics, for example), surveys or past purchase history to know more about your subscribers and spot segments.

  1. Use tags to make your content dynamic

In Selzy, you can use merge tags as variables to segment your audience. Merge tags are unique pieces of information that correspond to user data stored in Selzy. When you send a campaign, our ESP replaces the tag with the corresponding bit of data. It can be your subscribers’ names, contact information, links, dates. 

You can also use system tags or create customized ones — meaning you can pick any variable you want for your email marketing campaigns.

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At the most basic level when you write personalized emails, you don’t have to write each subscriber’s name. Instead, use the merge tag {{Name}} and the system will pick the name that corresponds to this email address

On a more advanced AMP level that requires help by a developer, dynamic content adapts to a subscriber’s behavior. Subscribers receive emails with dynamic blocks that reflect the previous interactions with the product. For example, if you buy sunglasses online, the confirmation email may contain relevant related products.

  1. Create an email and set up a campaign

Craft an email and use it as a template for dynamic content. Finally, set up a campaign and measure its success.

Examples of using dynamic content in email marketing

As shown above, demographics are one of the most common ways to personalize. See how Adidas sorted by gender in their email marketing campaign. Rather than create multiple templates, they crafted one email and made the visuals change depending on who gets the email.

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Female subscribers of Adidas received emails with Rita Ora modeling for their collection while male subscribers saw Pharrell Williams advertise polka dots outfits. Source: Really Good Emails

Location is also relatively easy to find out because people buy online a lot and include their delivery address. Here’s Puma’s policy on dynamic email content after the pandemic: they attached a map with their nearest stores in a subscriber’s city. As everyone was walking out of the lockdown, Puma sent a reminder about where they can be found in the streets.

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Source: Litmus

Past activity and preferences are also good options for dynamic content. The best thing here is that automation does all the job for you. Again, this is only possible if you gather user data.

Streaming services like Netflix or Spotify build their email policy around this factor. By knowing what you’ve already watched or listened to, they can make recommendations for what to try next.

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By knowing I’ve listened to Frank Zappa, Spotify offers me… more of Frank Zappa!

Here’s perhaps the most curious example of dynamic email content but one that makes a lot of sense — segmentation by device

Topshop sends exactly the same email but for one small thing — the link to an app store as a call to action.

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Android sees this email with a link to Google Play while iPhone users see a link to AppStore. Source: Litmus

Potential issues with dynamic content

So far, we’ve listed the virtues of dynamic email content and how to get the most out of it. And yet, not every company uses it in their marketing campaigns. You may be perfectly fine without it and here’s why.

  1. Gaps in data may kill the enterprise before it gains momentum

To see dynamic content implemented, you need a lot of data and it’s not always possible to have that. Data on users is often irregular with lots of crucial information missing. If this is your case, perhaps you’ll want to play it safe and try dynamic email content later, when you have the data.

  1. It’s not an option if you want to compare campaign results

Since an email with dynamic content is one email, your ESP sees it as one campaign. As a consequence, you can’t track how different segments of your subscribers interact with their versions of the email. You may see improved conversions but still not know which email version brought that about.

  1. Dynamic content is not magic

Dynamic content is merely a tool in the email marketing world. Using it won’t automatically boost your engagement rates and conversions or make the customer experience better.

You have to work hard on all aspects of your email marketing strategy and spend more time on it (especially at first) to give your subscribers what they need. Lots of brands don’t use dynamic content but still manage to do fantastic email marketing.

TL;DR

Dynamic email content is the type of email content that changes across subscribers. It’s similar to personalized messages, only you don’t need to create multiple campaigns — you need one email and certain variables in it.

Subscriber data is a must for dynamic content. Without the knowledge about the users of your products, there’s nothing to customize.

Dynamic email content helps brands save time while the recipients receive targeted content and are encouraged to interact with the product for longer.

However, dynamic email content is an enterprise that won’t suit all. It has drawbacks  and not every company needs it. If you can drive conversions and close sales through email marketing without dynamic content, so be it. After all, dynamic email content is just a tool.

Go on, tell us your experience with dynamic email content!

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