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What Is Dynamic Content in Email Marketing and Why Do You Need It?

Dynamic content allows you to adjust your communication depending on who is reading your mail. It is a powerful marketing tool that allows you to increase your average revenue per user (ARPU).

What Is Dynamic Content

It All Starts with Customer Segmentation

Customer Segmentation means dividing your customer base into different groups. Basic customer segmentation includes demographical segmentation (such as age and gender) and geographical segmentation (e.g. which country the customer is from). Most of the more advanced segmentation is based on behavioural groups. The heavy occasional spender may be in one group, while the frequent more modest buyer is in another group.

Without customer segmentation, your options for using dynamic content are limited at best.

The Use of Dynamic Content

With dynamic content, you can adjust your communication based on the specific customer group. You could, for example, promote a certain ebook to younger customers, while offering the same physical book to older customers. Dynamic content allows you to put to use what you know about your customer and approach him with the offers most relevant for him.

Where in My Email Can I Use Dynamic Content?

Everywhere! Below are some examples:

  • Subject line: you can display different subject lines to different customer groups. Even using the customer's actual name instead of just using "Dear Customer" gives a more personal impression. It will also help to bypass spam filters.

  • Visual: display a different banner for male and female customers, for example.

  • Text: promote different products to different customer groups.

  • Buttons: use call to action (CTA) buttons with different texts or even different colours for different customers.

  • Links: change the landing page you send your customers to depending on their preferences.

You can get pretty creative with dynamic content. Make sure, however, to be aware of the limitations of your email marketing provider. A lot of providers will not allow you to send something to one sub-group and nothing to the other subgroups. If you send a paragraph of text to one sub-group and leave this empty for the others, this will likely result in ugly whitespace in your email. You can get around this by writing different text blocks for different customer groups or by sending two separate campaigns.

Advanced Dynamic Content

As more and more marketers discover the value of dynamic content, the possible applications also grow rapidly. Advanced examples of dynamic content include listing the stock of a listed item and showing the number of people who already took advantage of a certain offer.

These advanced forms of dynamic content tend to require technical implementations that can be quite costly, however. Although usually worth the investment, they may not be a priority for smaller companies. A more achievable example of advanced dynamic content is to display a countdown timer urging customers to make a purchase before an offer expires.

Arbitrary Dynamic Content

You can also use dynamic content arbitrarily. This can be handy when performing A/B testing. When A/B testing, you want to compare the effect of two different approaches to find out the best approach for future use. You want these results to be as neutral as possible to exclude other factors.

If you send a different campaign to your male and female customers and one campaign performs better, for example, you are unable to tell if this is due to the campaign or due to the gender of its target. That is why it is important to use arbitrary segmentation instead, e.g. based on the first letter of your customers' names.

Dynamic Content or Separate Campaigns?

The choice of using dynamic content or separate campaigns is largely based on two factors:

  1. Efficiency If you only want to make a certain part of your email, dynamic content is probably the way to go. If you want to make every single part of your mail different for two different target groups, it would be quicker to just send two separate campaigns. Are you the only person taking care of your company's email marketing? Then it is not going to take you very long to get a feel for the more efficient method for any given situation. If not, make sure to discuss the different options with the relevant stakeholders.

  2. Analysis of KPI's The goal of communicating differently to different customer groups is to increase your ARPU. It only makes sense to analyze your campaign to make sure you actually achieved this goal. Depending on your email marketing service, analysis between different sub-targets of one campaign may be a lot more difficult and time-consuming than comparing two separate campaigns.

Regardless of your choice, don't take dynamic content too far. Each target needs to have enough customers in it to be worth the effort of creating additional content.

Dynamic Content Is a Must for All Serious Marketers

To get the most out of each individual customer, you need dynamic content. You may be able to get by and emulate the effects of dynamic content through sending several campaigns for a while, but this will only get you so far. If your email marketing service does not offer dynamic content within a single email, you may want to consider switching to a service that does.


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