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What is Dynamic Email Content?

by Sarah O'Neill, on 8 October, 2021

He swaggers in, everyone turns. He orders a drink. It comes in a coconut with a sparkler. Three women faint. He winks. The room gets a personalised email based on their current location. "Wow", the bartender says. "That's some dynamic email content".

Fail Season 2 GIF by The Lonely Island 

For every dollar spent, email marketing makes about $57 back. 74% of marketers say customer engagement is increased by targeted personalisation. Personalised emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates. So what do you get when you combine all these money-making techniques into one?

Also known as AMP emails, dynamic email content makes sure there's no 'one size fits all' approach when it comes to creating emails. 

In basic terms, dynamic content refers to any email content that changes based on a subscriber's personal data; location, age, gender, behaviour, interests etc. etc. 

It's all about getting the right content, to the right people, at the right time. So, you can create separate versions of the same email, with unique messages for segments of your audience. Think one email, different content.

Andy Samberg Reaction GIF

This means getting different personalised sections of an email or newsletter to different parts of your audience. Everyone receives the same subject line, similar content, but they'll get a different, personalised message. So, if you're a clothing store with an audience in Sydney, and another in London, you might want to change the promotions on umbrellas and sunhats accordingly. 

All of this leads to your reader receiving pieces of content that speak directly to them

Plus, the level of personalisation, or integration, can change from simple to complex. In fact, Vero's Chris Hexton defines three levels of personalisation depth, with:

  1. Basic customer merge tags. With merge tags, "Good evening, , I've been expecting you" becomes "Good evening, Mr Bond, I've been expecting you."
  2. Collect and insert on-site data. From your app or website, into your email service provider, via an application programming interface, the data you collect can be used to track events and behaviours as users browse. Based on this, you can then send them the right content when messaging. 
  3. Pull data from your own database. Sometimes data isn't available in this real-time way. By connecting an external API to your ESP, personalisation can be kept timely. When a user views something on your site, this event can be recorded. So think, they've browsed, they've added it to their basket, they've gotten distracted and gone to get a Pot Noodle. You can then send an email to remind them of their potential purchase, alongside other suggested items. These can be personalised to their city, so the pair of trainers they were looking at, with their matching London-relevant umbrella. 

An easy way to start is by using demographic data to engage your audience. But it's worth considering a number of different parts of your customers' personalities and behaviours, including:

  • Demographics; age, gender, job title.
  • Firmographics; Industry, location, services, number of employees. 
  • Behaviour; links clicked, products searched and purchased, conversion rate
  • Psychographics; lifestyle, interests, approaches.

Once this has been collected, and used to segment, you can use this collected data in a few ways. This might be related to a customer's:

Interests. Say your customer is clicking on hat-based umbrellas. You know the ones. Little propeller on top, even. You wouldn't start sending them recommendations for hand-held products. So, focusing on interest would involve sending them hat-based content on a regular basis. 

Location. Think language, dialects, slang, seasonal needs, local holidays. These all have to be personalised to create a bond between brand and customer. 

Persona. Is your customer a high-flying business tycoon? Are they a cattle farmer? Are they a parent? How will they use your product, and do they even know about it? Do they like Jazz? 🐝 These questions have to be answered before you know what content they'll respond to. 

Lifecycle. Where is your customer in the buying cycle? What offers are going to be most effective at this point? How many emails have you already sent? This is all about sparking engagement, continuing engagement, or reigniting engagement. 

What are the benefits of dynamic email content?

Well, relevant emails tend to drive 18X more revenue than broadcast emails. 

Dynamic email content has a number of different benefits, all leading to your subscribers receiving an experience which is modified and relevant. So, that might be through images, offers, and even CTAs. But the benefits are varied, and can include:

1. The ability to share exclusive content. Dynamic content means you can handpick certain parts of your message for a particular group. Loyal customers can be sent email coupons, paying subscribers can be sent bonus content, and inactive customers can be tempted back with a discount code.

2. Better customer experiences. By customising email content based on customer identity and behaviour, you can provide custom experiences in a way that traditional personalisation can't.

3. Improved click-through rates. When someone receives content that is particular to them, they're more likely to read and click through. For example, AAA Ohio, a membership service based in the automotive, travel and financial industry, found that personalising their emails helped increase their customer engagement. To increase the reader's desire to travel, the company displayed real time weather of different locations, like the Caribbean. AAA Ohio found that their CTR improved by 21% using this technique. 

What are the common mistakes in dynamic email content?

  • Using the wrong data. This is a big one. Make sure your data source is accurate and trustworthy. Plus, give your customer the ability to update their information, to make sure it's still applicable. 
  • Overuse of multiple content types. Including multiple content blocks in your emails will distract from the effective personalised content. So, it's best to keep it stripped back - one or two dynamic content blocks per email.
  • Over personalisation. Don't be creepy - that's the main aim. You can gradually build the amount of data you use as you build the relationship. 

Examples

1. Location - UNIQLO

The marketers at UNIQLO designed their dynamic content around their subscribers' location. They could then offer specific product recommendations, based on the weather forecast.

2. Behaviour - GasBuddy

GasBuddy shows how personalised an email can be, through using dynamic content. 

The company shows how fuel efficient the customer is, compared to other drivers in their area. Plus, they'll receive information on their average speed, and offer tips for improvement. It's both gamified, and personal. Win-win. 

3. Offers - Cosy Earth, Jaybird, Bespoke Post

New and returning customers should be treated differently. But they both need to be encouraged to make a purchase, and repeat purchase. Using dynamic content, you can reward loyal customers, maximise average order value with profitable customers, and tempt new customers. 

Cosy Earth, for example, offers customers a special code on their first purchase:

Once this relationship has been built, you need to keep it going. So, during the retention stage, brands need to keep their interest. 

Jaybird, a wireless headphone seller, creates a relationship between themselves and their customers by promoting themselves not just as the product, but as an extended experience. For example, they sent loyal customers an email to download a music app that would be compatible with their product. 

Sometimes subscribers will go quiet after an initial coupon code, or after they've received the information they came to your company to find. In order to reignite their engagement, Bespoke Post asked customers to define what they want to see from their emails, in order to customise their experience better in the future. 

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