Dynamic content drives success of email campaigns
There is a major trend gathering momentum in email marketing right now; smart marketers are increasingly moving towards the use of dynamic communication - the most rapidly growing and compelling area of e-marketing.
This is where the marketer listens to what the recipient is saying, whether directly or through observed activity and targets messages accordingly
What is dynamic content?
It basically means bringing together a combination of email content, user preferences and business rules to create a customised message for each member of your database. This combination defines what content the recipient or groups of recipients will receive.
It may sound straightforward but this is an involved process requiring HTML skills and more time to plan and prepare than you would expect from a standard email message.
However, it does mean you can make your customer relationships even more personal.
Think beyond a name or salutation; instead you can create a single email template that serves up unique content to each recipient based on their own preferences.
Upping your game in this way, sending more effectively targeted emails, will generate a better response, offer sustainable increases in CTR (click-through rate) and reduce the cost-per-click.
Benefits of dynamic messaging for marketers
• increases productivity and reduces time spent on producing multiple campaigns
• generates loyalty, anticipation and increases retention rates as customers feel more valued when receiving personalised communications
• increases leads and revenue by delivering highly relevant and personalised content that increase the likelihood of conversion.*
Benefits of dynamic messaging for customers
• customers receive information and promotions specifically related to their interests
• customers don’t receive communications about topics they are not interested in
• customers are able to locate the relevant products and services on your site faster
How does it work?
Before you can generate a dynamic message it’s useful to understand the techniques necessary to create the communication.
There are four basic customisation techniques:
Divide your list into segments and send each segment a different message.
We’ve all been doing this for years with direct marketing so there is nothing groundbreaking about this technique. However it’s a simple technique that shouldn’t be underestimated!
It loses its edge though as cost and complexity increase geometrically with the number of segments required. Therefore, alone, it cannot be used for true one-to-one communication.
A top tip is to still maintain separate lists, in order to make reporting clearer, but segment those lists where possible.
2. Variable substitution
Fields are placed in the message template representing recipient attributes and are substituted differently for each recipient.
Although it’s of great value it is all too often only used for cheesy salutations like 'Dear John.'
If you are going to think outside the box try using it for purchases and transactions; profile attributes ie vertical industries, age, gender etc; relationships (customers, resellers, partners); or contact preferences.
3. Conditional blocks
Blocks are unique in the sense that there is a logic statement behind them, a piece of 'what if' code. It can be used to personalise the email based on individual preferences or any other attribute you may hold.
An example of this would be for you to promote a particular event, yet only to those people you deemed could practically attend your event based on a particular address profile.
4. Content insertion
This is really a variation of variable substitution, however the main difference is that rather than supporting an insertion of a block based upon a recipient's attributes, complete sections of content are placed into the email template such as whole paragraphs, phrases and images.
The system then has to do two things - insert the content according to the business rules and then manage any conditional links within the content that is being inserted, therefore creating customisation within customisation.
This is necessary not only to perform personalisation within a dynamic section but also to track click-through rates within inserted content, an essential capability. For example, a message might contain one of 15 different opening paragraphs based on account history, with each paragraph referencing specific purchases and linking to a variety of locations.
With this technique there is no limit to the number of individual messages that can be created. It does however have two problems: firstly it is significantly more technical and secondly it separates the message from the content.
Though this may not sound particularly significant it lengthens the production process. Content must be created, proof read and approved out of context, something people can find very difficult to achieve well.
All four customisation techniques listed above can be used in conjunction with one another or as stand-alone processes. Items 3 and 4 are more commonly used together.
By using dynamic content to tailor specific elements of your email marketing to the preferences, location, past behaviour or other personal attribute of each recipient you will not only improve results but also prevent list fatigue and reduce the number of unsubscribes.
*A 2003 JupiterResearch study reported results from dynamically personalised email messages were four to eight times better than those from static campaigns.