Dynamic content in email marketing describes any email content that changes based on the subscribers’ data, preferences, and behaviors. With dynamic content, you can personalize specific aspects of an email—text, visuals, or calls to action—to target particular subscribers.

Email marketing continues to evolve.

In 1978, Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corp, sent the first commercial mass email to 400 prospective buyers. Seen as a novelty by recipients, the email generated $13 million in sales. This successful campaign showed companies the revenue potential of email marketing.

Fast-forward to today, and email is still a powerful marketing channel. For every dollar spent, email marketing generates about $57 for businesses.

But email today is different from the old days. Consumers get messages from their favorite brands every day, and their inboxes are flooded. Recipients can easily ignore your emails—leaving your brand with low open rates.

What if you could overcome sad, generic email blasts by jumping on the next trend — personalization? Just like the first email generated millions in sales, the first personalized emails are showing businesses their revenue potential. Dynamic content (or conditional content) in email marketing helps you build personalized experiences for your customers.

In this post, you’ll learn how to use dynamic content in email marketing — and see real-life examples of dynamic content.

What are the benefits of dynamic email content?

Dynamic email content adds value to your email marketing strategy by making sure your contacts see exactly the information they need.

With more relevant content, you can increase the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Here are three benefits of dynamic email content:

benefits of dynamic content in emails

1. Improve the customer experience

Customer experience statistics show that you need to put your customers first. Dynamic content offers an opportunity to cater to each customer. You can personalize email content to reflect a subscriber’s geographical location, interests, and purchasing history.

2. Save your team time

Dynamic email content helps your team create personalized experiences at scale. No more crafting separate campaigns for different audience segments.

Instead of creating a different email to talk to your leads, customers, and advocates, you can develop one email and switch the content based on the specific segment. This level of automation frees up your time to focus on email strategy, not repetitive tasks.

3. Increase campaign engagement

Your customers prefer to interact with content that speaks directly to them. With relevant content in your subscribers’ inboxes, they are more likely to open the messages and take action. More engagement for your brand means more opportunities to nurture relationships and sell products.

What are the different types of dynamic email content?

Dynamic email content is unique because you can make specific brand recommendations to your audience. You can point new leads to a landing page to purchase your product while directing your brand advocates to an upsell offer with a one-time coupon code.

1. Text

Marketers using dynamic email content for the first time usually start with text. It’s a simple but effective way to personalize your message to different subscribers. Text covers subject lines and paragraphs. For instance, if you’re a sports equipment brand, you can create a paragraph that speaks to basketball fans versus football fans.

2. Visuals

Your email content may include images, videos, or GIFs. You want to add visuals that resonate with each subscriber. When selecting a visual, think about what emotional reaction you want from the recipient.

3. Calls to action

The purpose of a call-to-action button or link is to grab your subscribers’ attention and to encourage them to take action. Customizing calls to action helps boost your click-through rate—leading to more sales for your brand.

How dynamic email content works

Creating great dynamic email content means going above and beyond for your subscribers. Customer experience expectations are already high, so your team must find new ways to delight your audience.

The answer: delivering personalized content to your customers.

Step 1: Collect Data 

In order to personalize your email marketing with dynamic email content, you will need access to customer data. You can collect better customer data in three ways:

  1. Customer interviews — Speak directly to your customers about the outcomes they’d want from using your product or service.
  2. Customer feedback — Give your customers other ways to interact with you such as email marketing data (opens, clicks), your sales CRM, surveys, quizzes and website live chat. 
  3. Community research — Aggregate review data from major platforms and look up important keywords on social media platforms.

Learn more: Read our guide to identifying the needs of your customers.

Step 2: Segmentation

Customer segmentation plays a key part in personalizing your dynamic email content. Your goal is to group subscribers in a way that will increase your email engagement.

Using the customer lifecycle is beneficial when determining your customer segments. The customer lifecycle describes the stages consumers enter when they consider, purchase, and remain a loyal customer of your product. It shows you how to engage with customers in the buyer’s journey.

customer lifecycle for dynamic content in emails

You can create customer segments that match the customer lifecycle. Here are some recommendations for your business:

  • Reach & Engage: Focus on new visitors to your website. They may land on your site from a Google search, Facebook ad, or a mention from an influencer.
  • Nurture & Educate: Group new leads interested in your brand. These consumers want to learn how your product can address their specific needs.
  • Convert & Close: Seal the deal with eager consumers. You can send them personalized calls to action to get them to the checkout cart.
  • Support & Grow: Transform customers into brand advocates. You can delight each customer by emailing relevant product announcements and offers.

Step 3: Customize dynamic email messages for each segment

After selecting your customer segments, the next step is to decide how you will customize the email. There are limitless ways to target your subscribers with personalized content.

dynamic email content example

Consider the following four customization options:

1. Demographics

Using basic demographics is one of the easiest ways to customize your messaging. Here are a few examples of customer demographic information:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographical location
  • Marital status
  • Education level
  • Professional occupation

2. Psychographics

Psychographics targets a customer based on their beliefs, values, and interests. Depending on your business type, you may customize your message to fit their political views, hobbies, or food choices. You can collect this type of data through email surveys, website quizzes, or customer interviews.

3. Subscriber preferences

Your customers know what they want to see from your brand. So, ask them directly to choose the type of content they would like to receive.

You can give subscribers an option to express their preferences when signing up for your newsletter. Or you can include a link to a preference center at the bottom of your emails.

4. Behavioral data

Behavioral data looks at specific patterns made by a customer’s actual actions. You can customize an email to fit a subscriber’s past purchasing history, website activity, or email engagement. Understanding customer behaviors is an opportunity to recreate more positive brand actions.

How to add dynamic content to emails

Today, many customers want a highly personalized shopping experience with product recommendations, special offers, and custom services. With dynamic email content, you can nurture brand relationships and outshine your competitors. Macy Storm, a content writer at WebFX, agrees:

“Dynamic email content will help your business get more from your email marketing campaigns. You’ll create more tailored content that helps you earn conversions for your business.”

In ActiveCampaign, you can create dynamic email content within the email designer. Hover over any content block to display a gear button, then select “Make conditional” to begin.

email designer showing dynamic content in emails

Then, you will see a Conditional Content modal window. You can create multiple conditions to determine whom to share this specific content with. For instance, you can display content to subscribers in a particular country. Or you might show content based on a certain tag.

content modal showing dynamic content in emails

After setting your conditions, you can hover over your content block to see a pop up stating the conditions set.

content block showing dynamic content in emails

One content block can have multiple conditions for your subscribers to meet. Also, you can decide if your content will appear if all or any of the set conditions are met.

Common mistakes when using dynamic email content

Similar to any marketing campaign, dynamic email content is less effective when it’s implemented without a strategy. Work with your team to create a some baseline rules before using dynamic content in email marketing. Below are a few common mistakes.

Using inaccurate data

Dynamic email content works best when you have accurate data about your subscribers. You don’t want to make the mistake of sending dog-related pet toys to a cat owner. So, your team should do an audit of your customer data. You also can ask subscribers to update their email preferences.

Implementing multiple dynamic content types at once

With any new tool, you’ll want to resist the urge to try every feature at the same time. Teams make the mistake of changing every single content block in an email. Instead, you’ll want to focus on what content needs personalization based on the customer segment. Aim to change only one or two content blocks per email.

Failing to track metrics

Your campaigns must be measured to track the progress of your dynamic email content. You’ll want to analyze the click-through rates of different content blocks. That way, your team gets a better understanding of your subscriber’s activity and interests.

What are some examples of dynamic email content?

Dynamic email content creates a memorable experience for your customers. Here are some examples from brands to inspire your strategy.

1. Outdoor footwear retailer focuses on a customer’s occupation to send relevant content

Timberland sends dynamic email content according to its subscribers’ profession. This marketing email showcases multiple work boots for people with outdoor jobs. The products can withstand different weather conditions, making them ideal for construction and manufacturing workers.

Timberland example of dynamic content in emails

Source

2. Sports equipment company creates weather-related messaging

Brooks personalizes content based on the subscribers’ location and the current weather conditions. Their brand team uses a different image, text, and call-to-action button for hot weather and rainy days. It’s easier for consumers to see themselves using the product in their climate.

Brooks example of dynamic content in emails

Source

3. Online pharmacy engages subscribers using past purchasing history

Chemist Warehouse delivers replenishment emails to prompt customers to re-order products. The dynamic email content includes text and images of the product purchased along with other product suggestions and current pricing. Plus, the call-to-action button leads customers to a pre-stocked shopping cart.

Chemist Warehouse example of dynamic content in emails

Source

4. Membership community saves time

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) grew from a membership of almost 2,500 in 1984 to more than 235,000 members with 500 chapters. In the past, if RMEF wanted to send an email to a specific segment of its membership, their team had to pull a report from the database to get a list of the right email addresses. This complicated process resulted in a lot of wasted time and subscribers receiving three emails in a single day.

Now, the conservation organization easily sends targeted messages to their recipients based on their membership status. Non-members receive a call to action to become a member with an explanation about fees, while members see a call to action to donate. The RMEF team also saves time because they don’t have to create 10 different emails.

RMEF example of dynamic content in emails
RMEF saves time sending dynamic email content

Additional dynamic email content examples include asking subscribers to:

  • Reply to an invitation
  • Fill out a questionnaire 
  • Browse a catalog
  • RSVP to event
  • Fill out surveys
  • Take a quiz
  • Respond to comments
  • Browse images in email

How to combine dynamic email content with email automation

Dynamic email content and email automation is a powerful duo to deliver relevant content to your audience within an automated customer journey. Not only will your subscribers get personalized messages, but they also will receive your message at the right time within the lifecycle.

A good starting point is to use dynamic email content in your welcome series. Instead of delivering a generic welcome message to every subscriber that joins your newsletter, you can add customized content based on where they subscribed.

If they signed up after attending your latest webinar, you can include content from your presentation. Or if they subscribed while on a specific product page, you can add more details about the product in the welcome message.

You can replicate this same technique for your promotional, post-purchase, and re-engagement email series, too. ActiveCampaign makes it even easier with automation recipes. These are pre-built automation templates that you can import into your ActiveCampaign account.

automation recipe for dynamic content in emails

A Welcome Series Automation Recipe

Think of each recipe as a strategy for one moment of a customer’s experience. And with dynamic email content, you maximize your efforts to customize each moment for every subscriber.

Try Dynamic Content in Your Next Email Marketing Campaign

Dynamic email content delivers relevant content to your subscribers’ inboxes. With more personalized emails, you increase the level of engagement from your audience. Your team can nurture the brand relationship and close more sales for your business. Get fresh ideas on how to use this in your emails.