What is dynamic content and why should you use it in your email marketing?

Dynamic content is an easy way to make your emails more personal and relevant to your audience. Here’s why it should be an essential part of your email marketing campaigns.

Dynamic content isn’t a new thing, but until recently it’s not been a key feature of many marketeers’ email marketing toolboxes. However, as we look for more ways for our emails to stand out and appeal to our audience at an individual level, dynamic content has sprung up as a bit of a previously unsung hero.

In simple terms, dynamic content is made up of images, text, buttons, or links that are displayed – or hidden – in your email templates, depending on the behaviour, preferences, or interests of your individual audience members. It’s opposed to static content, which is content that is displayed to all your email recipients.

Although there will likely always be some static content in your marketing emails – such as your headers, footers, and even certain images – making use of dynamic content in your email can make your content more personal. It can also help move your audience closer to your key conversion points, especially when they’re time sensitive. How? Let’s take a look at how dynamic content works – starting with the problems created by not using it.

The problem with static content

Let’s say we’re going to create an email that links our audience to a website with offers that are available in their geographical region. To keep things simple, we’ll use the UK as an example, with its four individual countries.

If we were only building our email with static content, this is what the offers section of our email might look like.

Example of only using static content when building an email

Of course, the problem is this method is that it’s both visually messy and not particularly mindful of our audience. Naturally, someone is Scotland has no interest in deals available in Northern Ireland, or really, anywhere that’s not Scotland.

Without using dynamic content, another option for making the links relevant to our audience would be to create four separate emails for each of the countries, and then deliver each email only to recipients in that country. The only difference between each of the emails would be the offers button. For this method to work, before sending, we’d need to filter our list four times, narrowing each down to only include users in each respective country.

While this approach would make a better experience for our email recipients, it has the downside of creating additional headaches for us managing the campaign behind the scenes. The problems stem from the fact that we would be creating and launching four separate campaigns, when really, it’s only one campaign. When it’s time to report on the campaign, we would have to collect and then analyse four sets of campaign analytics to see the full picture and measure its performance.

Thankfully, dynamic content offers the best of both worlds – a truly relevant experience for our customers, and easier management of the campaign itself for us.

How to use dynamic content to get more from your data

Dynamic content is great for making sure our email’s content is relevant to our audience while taking the pain of managing a complex campaign away for us.

Happily, most email marketing platforms make setting up dynamic content really easy using their drag & drop editors – we’re using mmunicMail in this example.

Sticking with the regional offers example above, we’d start off by creating our email with all original four buttons, linking to the respective webpages. However, this time we’re going to label all the buttons as “View offers.”

Setting up dynamic content blocks by first laying out all the different types of content

Next, we use the dynamic content filter option to set the display conditions for each of the buttons. So for our button that will link to offers available in Scotland, we’ll set it so that the content only displays for recipients whose country is Scotland. Makes sense, right? We’ll need to do the same thing for our other three buttons, filtering them to display only for recipients in their respective countries.

Setting dynamic content display conditions - filtering criteria

And it’s as simple as that! Once the email is delivered, our recipients will only see the button that is relevant to them. The other three buttons will be hidden.

Other uses for dynamic content

In the example above, dynamic content has helped us to bring our audience closer to a conversion point by removing unnecessary steps in an online shopping experience. Other uses of dynamic content can help boost engagement rates by filtering out content that would be irrelevant to our recipient.

With this in mind, here’s some other ways you might use dynamic content:

  • Adding multiple language versions of your email body text (to save relying on auto-translation services).
  • Displaying specific news articles based on a recipient’s interests or tags.
  • Tailoring offers or content based on basic demographic information (such as age, marital status, location, gender).
  • Reveal exclusive content in your email, depending on the recipient’s engagement with your previous emails – akin to loyalty rewards.

Things to watch out for

Unfortunately, as with all good things, using dynamic content does come with some “gotcha” moments. Here are some key things to bear in mind when thinking about using it:

Plan how you’re going to test your dynamic content

Testing emails that use dynamic content is intrinsically more difficult, as you’ll want to be able to check all the different variables in your email render correctly for each of your target recipients. To do this, you’ll likely need to set up a range of testing email addresses that reflect each of your variables.

Your options for using dynamic content are limited by your data

It might sound obvious, but before we can display or hide dynamic content based on our recipients’ information, we need to capture that information in the first place. By this, we mean that if you limit your data capture to email address only, you probably won’t be able too get many options for personalising your emails using dynamic content. The richer your data about your subscribers, the richer you can make your emails.

Unlocking dynamic content as a feature often comes at an extra cost from your email marketing platform

Unfortunately, many email marketing service providers restrict dynamic content to their higher tier packages or ‘premium’ versions. This means you may have to pay more to unlock these features.

For our part, we don’t believe in restricting the features of our platform depending on how much you’re willing to pay, which is why all mmunicMail accounts receive access to all our platform’s powerful features.

To find out more about mmunicMail and how to get started, take a look at our website.

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