How to Get More Email Results With Custom Fields

Inboxes are fierce with competition. You need every edge you can get. So why not use one of the best email marketing techniques to stand out from your competition? Especially if it delivers emails that are more relevant and useful to your subscribers?

That’s what personalization can do. And while there’s plenty of information about why and how personalization works, I’m going to set the “why” of personalization aside for this post. For this post, we’re focused on the “how”.

Personalization can take a lot of different forms. But the most common way it’s executed is through dynamic content. It works like this:

  • You put a piece of code into your email message. For example, this is the code we use to insert someone’s first name into an email


  • That code tells the GetResponse system to access your contact list and pull the information from that field for each subscriber. So if I had signed up with the name “Athena”, the GetResponse system will insert that into the email.


Hello, [[firstname]]

Would become

Hello, Athena

Dynamic content can be embedded just about anywhere in an email message: The subject line, the salutation, the body of the email and the email footer can all show dynamic content. You can even format it so the capitalization looks nice.

Predefined and custom fields

In GetResponse’s system, there are two types of dynamic content fields: Predefined fields and custom fields. As you know from the title of this post, we’re focused on custom fields. But I’ll be referring to predefined fields throughout, and this post will show you how to use those, too.

Here’s a list of all the dynamic fields and what they do:

Predefined fieldsCustom fields
[[firstname]] – Displays subscriber’s first name (everything up to the first space in the name field).Country – Users choose countries from a drop-down list. If you want, you can define which countries appear on the list.  Just deselect the checkboxes in the Custom field value section first.
[[name]] – Displays a subscriber’s name.Currency – You get four currencies (USD, EUR, PLN, GBP) to choose from. You can set this to be multiple choice.
[[lastname]] – Displays a subscriber’s last name (everything after the first space in the name field… which might be an issue if someone uses a middle initial).Date – Users can pick a year, month and day.



[[email]] – Displays a subscriber’s email address.Date time – Related to the date field, but for hours. ***Take note: This field does not take into account a user’s time zone.
[[responder]] – Displays the campaign name.Gender – You get two choices: Female or male.
[[ip_address]] – Displays the subscriber’s IP address (and includes the same information as the custom IP field).IP – IP addresses are used to locate computers (and the people who use them) around the world.
{{CONTACT “message_from_email”}} – Displays your from field email address.Number – Just like what it sounds like. Numbers only. No commas, currency signs or anything else.
[[remove]] or [[change]] – display the link for unsubscribing and updating details.Phone number – Your subscribers will choose a flag icon so their country prefix is correct. When they enter the actual number, GetResponse will check it’s formatting to make sure they’ve entered a valid phone number.
[[view]] – Displays the link to on-line version of your message.Text – A regular text input field.
[[forward]] – Displays link to forward the message to a friend.URL – This field automatically verifies if the URL the user has entered is properly formatted or not.
Social Sharing:


[[facebook]] [[twitter]] [[linkedin]] [[pinterest]]  [[googleplus]] – These fields insert social sharing links that make it easy for your subscribers to share the email.



[[geo country]] [[geo country code]]  [[geo region]] [[geo postal]] and [[geo postal code]] – These insert geo-location data based on your subscriber’s IP address.


Please note: Most of the predefined fields don’t require you ask your subscribers for any additional information, EXCEPT for the [[firstname]],  [[name]], and [[lastname]] fields. If you want that information to show when you insert those fields, you’ll need to ask for your subscribers’ names on your signup forms.

A while back I wrote an entire post about the issues around including or not including a name field in your signup forms. If you’re interested enough in personalization to read this post, it’s probably a good idea to include the name field.

Did you know? GetResponse has a newly refreshed feature: a popups and forms creator. See what’s new and take it for a spin in a 100% free account.

What are custom fields?

Custom fields are a type of dynamic content field that can hold information you specify. Want to embed some dynamic content that doesn’t fit into any of the predefined fields? That’s when you would use a custom field.

Here’s an example of a lead generation form used by GetResponse that shows you where you could use custom fields.


Let’s walk through each of these fields. As I mentioned above, the first name and last name fields will be assigned to the predefined fields [[firstname]] and [[lastname]]. The email field will also be captured under the predefined field [[email]].

But then we’ve got “mobile phone”, “company”, “position” and “industry”. There are no predefined fields for that information. What to do?

Custom fields to the rescue. We can make custom fields for each one of those pieces of information.

I figured out a way to find out which fields are custom – by accident. I didn’t fill out the phone number field of the form correctly, but when the system showed me the “correct your information” page, it revealed which fields are custom.


When I didn’t format my phone number correctly, the GetResponse system showed me a page to correct it. That page also revealed which fields of the form are custom fields.

Now that we’ve cracked this open just a bit, let’s dive in and create a custom field of our own.

How to create a custom field

1) When you’re logged into your account, go to the top navigation bar, click “Lists” and select “Custom fields”.

How to access custom fields in GetResponse.

2) You’ll see this:

How to manage custom fields in GetResponse.

3) Click on “Create custom field” button and fill in the name field.

Don’t use capitalized letters or spaces. I’m going to create the custom field “company_position” from The Ultimate Holiday Campaign Guide’s form, so I’ll fill out the field with that. And because this field will hold data that is text (as opposed to numbers or a URL), I’ll choose that selection from the “Type” pull-down menu.

How to create a new custom field using GetResponse.

4) The format is “line of text”, so I’ll choose that option for the next part. Pretty easy so far…

How to create a new custom field using GetResponse – adding single-line text format.

5) I don’t want the form field pre-populated with any information, so I’ll leave the “default value” blank. Also, I do want people to be able to see this field when they’re editing their subscriber preferences. So I’m not going to check the checkbox right above the blue button.

It all looks good, so I’ll save the custom field. If I need to, I can go back and edit it again later.

6) There’s the new field on the confirmation page.

A new custom field has been successfully created and it's visible on the manage custom fields page.

7) Now when I go to add personalized fields to my emails, or to the forms I create, I’ll see the new custom field. Here it is in the form creator:

And here it is in the subject line personalization options:

Custom fields in the GetResponse Email Creator.

Not too hard, right?

So what can you do with this?

Now that you know how to create custom fields, what can you do with them? You’ve got two primary options:

1) Progressive profiling.

Progressive profiling is a technique used to minimize how much information you ask your subscribers for in the opt-in form. With progressing profiling, you keep the initial opt-in form short, but then circle back and ask for more information in later emails.

Here’s an example of that from Seamless. They’re asking subscribers to share birthday information. That’s a smart choice. Birthday emails tend to get very high engagement rates. And this email is completely focused on that goal.


Image courtesy of Return Path, from their blog post, “Using Email to Collect Additional Subscriber Data”.

Why do this at all? Because it lets you keep your signup forms short. That usually means the conversion rate of your forms goes up – but not always. However, at the risk of generalizing, the fewer the fields in your first opt-in form, the better. Especially if you can keep it below four fields.

2) Customize your email messages to your heart’s content.

You could add dynamic content with custom fields to any part of your email messages:

The video below can walk you through how to insert this personalization information:

What about you?

Are you using dynamic content in your emails? Got any results you’d like to share with us? Leave a comment – we want to know how it’s working for you.

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Pam NeelyPam Neely

Pam Neely has been marketing online for 15 years. She's a serial entrepreneur and an avid email and content marketing enthusiast with a background in publishing and journalism, including a New York Press Award. Her book "50 Ways to Build Your Email Marketing List" is available on Pam holds a Master's Degree in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University. Follow her on Twitter @pamellaneely.

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