Clients and prospects are more than their email addresses. A savvy salesperson or business development individual would rarely approach two different prospects with the exact same pitch. By the same token, an effective email marketing campaign should never reach out to a wide variety of potential clients with a one-size-fits-all message. This is where dynamic content comes in.
Dynamic content refers to the inclusion or substitution of elements within an email that vary based on information about the recipient. This makes for a more personalized and targeted interaction. Take the data you’ve collected on your recipients and put it to good use.
Where do I use dynamic content?
Here are a few places to get dynamic:
- Interests. If the recipient has expressed interest in a particular product or type of content, tailor your email marketing to tackle those interests.
- Locations. Address local events or change the phrasing of your messaging to match a region’s dialect, humor, or seasonal needs. This will build a sense of familiarity and relevance, leading to an increase in retention.
- Title/Persona. Are you dealing with a C-level executive or the guy at the IT helpdesk? They’ll have very different approaches to your products, services, or content. One might want to know the bottom line, while the other might be interested in actionable tech advice.
- Lifecycle. Is this your first email to a contact, or your twenty-first? Not only might this change the level of familiarity with which you address them, but it will also change the sorts of offers you include. Early in the relationship, your calls-to-action might include clicking on a link to a whitepaper or article. Once you’re more familiar, you might want to offer a consultation or an invitation to a webinar that requires a higher level of engagement.
- Avoid over-gating. Managing gated content can be tricky. If you ask prospects to fill out a form every time they want to click through to your content, you’re likely annoying them or chasing them away with the threat of spam. Dynamic content allows you to customize this, so that contacts that have already filled out forms in the past get access without the gatekeeper.
Dynamic content types
There are two basic types of dynamic content:
- Variable substitution. This approach places fields in your email template that represent recipient attributes. Each field is customized for each recipient. Most of us see this level of customization daily, receiving bulk email that addresses us by name. This adds a personal touch and requires little work on the front end, but variable substitution only allows for fairly minimal levels of personalization.
- Content insertion. This is a similar approach to variable substitution, but goes deeper. Content insertion, like the name implies, enables you to switch out sections of content—phrases, paragraphs, even images—by inserting different content in different places within the text of your message. The function even allows you to create multilingual versions of content and send the appropriate version to recipients based on their location or preferred language. You can thoroughly customize your email based on the recipient this way, with even more customization available by using variable substitution fields within the inserted sections of content. An important factor to keep in mind when delving into content insertion is that, after all the customization comes together, the final amalgamated message must make sense.
Each piece of dynamic content must not only be created, but also proofed and approved. If you’re short on time or manpower, this could be a challenge. On the upside, you can reuse and repurpose much of the content in any one approach or campaign for others. When approached thoughtfully, dynamic content can actually reduce your workload. Content can be created that can be substituted into multiple campaigns at various stages of the recipients’ lifecycle (first touch, follow-ups to purchase, regional or industry-specific offers… the sky’s the limit).
Remember, dynamic content is more than just putting your friendliest foot forward. It’s not simply calling clients and prospects by name and letting them know they’re remembered. Dynamic content makes your content as relevant as possible to your contacts. Recipients can receive content specific to their interests, locations, and needs, and they won’t receive email irrelevant to them. In short, you won’t be spamming them. They’re less likely to feel like their inbox is being bombarded with junk, and you’re less likely to get flagged. It’s win-win.
Keep in mind that these are just the basics. There are other considerations—what vendors to use and the timing of your campaigns, just to name a couple. But the bottom line is that dynamic content helps foster loyalty and grow retention rates. Even better, dynamic content increases the likelihood of conversion and helps push prospects through the sales funnel—and, when it comes down to it, that’s what your email marketing efforts are all about.
About the Author:
Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge is a leader in rebranding firms to help them grow faster and maximize value. Lee can be reached at LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com or 703-391-8870.
Increase Engagement with Personalized Messages
Take a look at examples of great dynamic content and learn to change the way your subscribers see your emails.