When it comes to email marketing, email marketers love to throw around big terms that make us sound smart and make it seem as though we’re on the cutting edge of all the cool technology and marketing trends. No doubt you’ve heard terms like personalization, throttling or dynamic content. But really, what is the difference between personalization and dynamic content anyway?
The biggest misnomer about personalization is that we’re simply taking a person’s first name and inserting it in the subject line or within the body of an email as ‘Dear So and So’. Although this is a basic example of personalization, it can truly be any element within your database that is unique to that recipient. Personalization, in its basic form, is really using any detail you may know about a person to append into the email body or subject line that is specific to that individual. This can be the town or city they reside in, their birthday, their pet’s name, or if they have bought a specific product from you in the past. The more you know about an individual, the more you can personalize the email to tailor to their personality, which increases the relevancy of the email. Almost every email service provider will have basic personalization capabilities in order to insert any single element of your database into the email.
Dynamic content is a tool in which large elements of the email creative are changed based on complex rules. The content within the email is in fact dynamic based upon criteria determined within your database. The beauty of dynamic content is once set up, only one email needs to be sent, but may render in dozens of different ways depending on the rules you have specified. Not every email service provider will have dynamic content capabilities. Traditionally larger top tier providers will have more sophisticated capabilities, along with an easy to understand interface to set up the dynamic content.
Let’s look at an example: A fitness chain with 20 different locations wants to send out one email for an offer of free first month membership. They would also like to direct people to the location that is nearest to them geographically by highlighting the address, picture, and unique link directing to that specific locations’ website. Instead of sending twenty different creative’s and segmenting the list in twenty ways, this can be easily accomplished using dynamic content rules and simply sending one email.
The graphic designer or email marketing manager will need to design the email in such a way that one block of HTML can be swapped out for another leaving the remaining template in tact. A small block of code will need to be created with all the different elements and loaded into the dynamic content interface you utilize with your ESP. Next you simply need to map out your rules to insure the right content is displayed to the right people. Some ESPs will have a comprehensive testing screen that will allow you to preview the email and apply your different rules to make sure the content is displaying correctly.
Both personalization and dynamic content are tools within the email marketers toolbox which allow you to create messages that are a little more relevant to the recipient. We all know relevancy has become more and more important as technology becomes more sophisticated. Also remember – personalization and dynamic content are only as effective as the quality of your database and the information you know about your recipients. Maintaining a complete and up to date database will allow you to utilize personalization and dynamic content to the fullest.