Enabler provide best practice advice around utilising HTML email templates within your email marketing software for B2B and B2C communications, from a multi award-winning email agency.

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Plug in, crank the dial and listen up, as we take a look at the power of Google’s new AMP for Email.

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) launched in 2015 by Google was developed as an open source framework to speed up mobile web, to cut out or bipass all of the code that slows down page load and performance, and supply faster, smaller alternatives to the code, mainly via JavaScript.

As of February 2018 AMP is available for email, under the catchy (if unimaginative) title “AMP for Email”.  According to Google, this is so “developers can create more engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.” It will allow the user to submit forms or surveys, check flight details, change a booking, get the latest news or search, select and purchase an item without even leaving the email. Basically Google doesn’t want you to leave the inbox if it’s not necessary, reducing the user journey from A to B.

Divided we fall

However, AMP for Email has caused a divide, with the majority wanting to pull the plug entirely.  AMP for Email brings new opportunities for marketers, offering their clients interactivity, increased performance, and improved email accessibility. Which sounds great, but ‘wiring’ your emails for AMP is not that straightforward.

There are initial concerns around security, as Google’s AMP for Email requires the injection of JavaScript to run those carousels and shopping baskets, and the use of third party integration could potentially raise unforeseen vulnerabilities.

Another concern is that Google just wants more control over people’s data, deciding how a process should work regardless of any current, tested, custom version. Imagine a retail store has developed its shopping cart process best to suit it’s clients needs, AMP for Email will not necessarily use this same process. What kind of impact does that have? Will the client lose faith with 2 processes? Will the website suffer from lack of driven hits and missed sale opportunities?

Lastly, when Google mentions interactive and dynamic content within email, are they possibly talking about Google Ads?  It’s very likely that Google will use this opportunity to push their Google Ads through AMP for Email. Hopefully we won’t end up with emails resembling bad 90’s style websites.

We also have to consider if AMP for Email is even necessary? Is this a revolutionary kick start to interactive email or is it over complicating what is meant to be a simple process.

“It’s like someone who sells bottled water telling you your tap runs too slow.”
– Devin Coldewey

The Light Show

Let’s have a look at some of the code, here is a basic layout for an AMP Email:

Doctype required declaring the html to be ⚡4email (“ampforemail” also accepted)
<!doctype html>
<html ⚡4email>
<head>
<meta charset="utf-8">
<style amp4email-boilerplate>body{visibility:hidden}</style>
<script async src="https://cdn.ampproject.org/v0.js"></script>
<style amp-custom>
.emailbody {
padding: 16px;
}
.helloworld {
font-family: sans-serif;
color: red;
font-size: 24px;
padding-bottom: 8px;
}
.images {
max-width: 100%;
}
</style>
All CSS to be included in <style amp-custom> tag, as above.

</head>
<body>
<div class=”emailbody”>
<div class=”helloworld”>
Hello, world.
</div>
<amp-img src=sample.jpg width=300 height=300></amp-img>
Components like the img tag above, adopt the amp name.
</div>
</body>
</html>

There are also a number of components that have changed:

 If you want to have a go, you can double check your code with an AMP HTML validator.

The Output

This is not the first time Google has pursued email interactive products.  In early 2010 they Beta tested “Enhanced Email”, “Google Wave” and “Google Grid”. All with not much success and were dropped after a few months.   Interactive email could be the new era, and even if AMP for Email is not the right step, at least it is a step toward the future advancements of email.

Are Google pushing the boundaries of the inbox, or just trying to take it over?
But then who better to trial these new concepts than Google, perhaps if Apple or Microsoft adopts AMP for Email we will see further developments and testing.

 

“All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.”
– Adlai Stevenson

AMP for Email is in its early days, the full working version won’t be pushed out until later 2018, and there’s still a lot of unanswered questions regarding security. Some are excited, most seem to think it’s a bad idea. Lets just hope it’s a plus for the world of email.

For more detail on AMP for Email you can see a recording from the AMP conference 2018: A New Frontier for AMP. Or, if this has piqued your interest, hit me up on Twitter –@Dipper2009 #emailgeeks.

Email marketing has undergone some fairly dramatic changes in the past 10 years, both from a strategic and technical standpoint.  Gone are the days of sending mass emails to your entire database which include generic product pushes, which are about as inspirational as the ‘one size fits all’ label on a piece of clothing.  One of the driving forces behind this change is that it  is now commonly accepted by marketeers that segmentation and personalisation of email campaigns are the ways to drive higher ROI, brand awareness and loyalty.

So how do we make sure every email we send is tailored to the personal needs of our customers?  We believe there are three things that have to be in place for this to be achieved:

  • Knowledge about your customers – Without understanding your customers, how do you expect to give them relevant content?  How do you determine what is relevant to them?

  • Data – How do you implement the right email strategy without the correct data in place?

  • A fantastic ESP (Email Service Provider) – that enables you to implement and successfully deliver a decent targeting strategy. (See Enabler’s functionality to see how it could do for you)

 

 

Knowledge About Your Customers

Your customer knowledge can come from your existing databases looking at the data that’s been gathered from previous customer activity (i.e. through forms, surveys or events), or it could be gathered from the customer’s email behaviour (opens, clicks, unsubscribes). However, even if you are starting from scratch, there are ways that you can build up a picture of your customers.

When it comes to using your customer knowledge to create effective email campaigns, we would highly recommend a personas led approach,  where you create profiles describing a particular group of your target audience based on their shared interests.  Grouping together these valuable pieces of customer information, such as challenges, goals, needs, pains and responsibilities, will help you create a ‘character profile’ which you can use to tailor your marketing so that you offer a personalised, valuable service. This information goes beyond normal demographic data and provides real insight into the customer’s life. If you want to enhance your understanding of your customers, check out one of Pancentric Digital’s Design Thinking workshops.

 

Data

Having the data that enables you to achieve your customer personalisation goals is imperative. For tips on how to acquire data click here. If you want more information on how best to retain your current customers try this one. However you decide to get your data in place, we’re going to assume you have done a great job of it, and skip ahead to the part everyone is waiting for….’How do I turn my data into relevant, personalised emails for my customers?’.

 

 

Dynamic Content

Dynamic or ‘Conditional’ Content allows you to use your customer data to create one email that displays different, unique content to each individual email recipient depending on their customer data. As the marketeer, you set pre-defined rules based on your customer data, so the customer only sees the email content that matches their data. Without this in place, you would have to create multiple emails with every possible content variation of based on your customer profile data (which is messy and time consuming) or just bulk email everyone with one message (which isn’t personalised and far less effective).

Sounds a bit abstract, right? So let’s look at a live example coming to us from the insurance industry. Full transparency here, the example we’re going to show you is an Enabler client, but they are using dynamic content in exactly the right way, so are the perfect example of how you should use dynamic content.  The company in question are Petplan, and we will take you through some examples of how they have used conditional dynamic  content successfully in their automated quote and buy email campaigns.

Below you will see an example of one of PetPlan’s emails with elements of the conditional code sitting within the template. From first glance, it looks like a fairly messy, basic template, however I’m going to show you just how clever this template really is.

– Email Template with Dynamic Conditional Content in Place –

Everywhere you see the phrase {conditional:xxx}, is a section of the email that will change based on the customer it is being sent to. This means, as soon as this email gets uploaded into Enabler, all those sections will look completely different and, most importantly, 100% personalised for each individual customer. Conditional elements can comprise of text copy, images, or a combination of the two.

Secondly, wherever you see {recipient_x_number}, that part of the email will also change to include a personal detail about the customer. This could be anything from their policy ID number to their name (or in PetPlan’s case, the pet’s name. )

Now let’s take a look at what that email would look like for a customer. (For the purposes of this, we have set created a fake customer within the Petplan system).

– Email Template with Customer Data Controlling the Dynamic Content –

As you can see, this looks like a totally different email. You will notice that images and copy have sprouted in all areas of the email, causing the look and feel of the email to change.

Let’s walk through the different elements which change based on the dynamic conditional content set up within the backend system of Enabler:

  • Images – the co-branding logo, pet image, roundel, and plan details all change based on customer information.

  • Alt text – the copy sitting behind each of those images will change based on the image itself, providing a fallback option if the customer has their images set to not display.

  • Lists – the ticks and bullet points in the two lower sections all change based on customer information.

  • Copy – there are too many instances of these to point each one out, but everything from the pets name, down to whether a sentence says ‘need’ or ‘needs’ changes based on customer information.

  • Terms and conditions – depending on the co-branding on the email, an extra paragraph will feature in the terms and conditions of the email. This will not be visible if co-branding is not in place.

  • Cover section – this whole section changes depending on which plan the customer has chosen. For this example, I have not chosen a plan, so I’m seeing all the options. However, let’s assume I had chosen the Covered For Life® 12k option, it would look more like this:

The best part about conditional content within Enabler is that you have a fallback option. This means if for some reason not all the data is held about the customer, (for example they are not sure which plan the customer has selected as in the example above) they will see a default view. This can be carefully chosen depending on what next step we want customer to take.

 

Benefits of Using Dynamic Content

Aside from the massive time saving benefits from an email deploying perspective, this style of email set-up will also save time in the future. Imagine having set up one template per customer variation. Not only would you be wasting time creating and testing all those emails, but when it came to updating them, you would also waste a lot of time. Even if you had one line of copy to change in each email, you may have to do it upwards of thirty times. In these conditional templates, you make the change once, and can then generate mass tests from the one template. Similarly, if you need to add something new to the emails, you are doing it once, rather than across a large number of templates.

Petplan are really at the forefront of creating dynamic templates, both from a strategic and build standpoint that put their customers first. From an agency standpoint, this is something we love to see, and the templates are also great fun (for an email nerd anyway) to put together.

However you choose to do your conditional content, make sure your data is in place, you have a great ESP solution in place, and you fully understand your customers before starting to build.

If you are interested in following in Petplan’s footsteps and bringing your email campaigns into the future but your current ESP doesn’t provide the necessary functionality, why not switch to Enabler.

As email marketers, we are always trying to find the best ways to make sure our emails are the very best they can be.  Gone are the days where you could send a test email to your inbox, sign it off and send it out.  Now more than ever, we have to be extra vigilant with our emails, making sure get into our customer’s inboxes, and that they look good when they arrive there. But with so many tools available and more cropping up all the time, how do we separate out the good from the… not so good. Luckily, the Enabler team are here to provide you with our expert opinions on the tools on the market now.

Our Top Five Email Tools to help you get the most out of your campaigns:

 

1). Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is design software that falls under the Adobe Creative Cloud – which means if you already have a creative cloud log in, you can access all of your assets and imagery from inside Photoshop. The programme itself is very intuitive and provides a host of different ways to achieve your goals. It enables email designers to produce beautiful creatives and maximise their potential.

Adobe are always updating the product (you can check out their update timeline here). Photoshop allows you to work across desktop and mobile devices to create the best looking emails you can, making it probably the best software out there for creating great email design.

Price-wise, you can get the full 20+ creative desktop and mobile apps in Adobe Creative Cloud for £45 per month or you can just go for Photoshop which is £17.15 a month.

View the full breakdown of pricing here.

Photoshop is a creative tool we highly recommend investing in if you want to create visually stunning, engaging emails that drive clicks.

 

2). Adobe Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver is a fast, flexible coding engine designed to give developers the freedom to code emails that look brilliant on any size screen.  Dreamweaver is extremely intuitive, and is a suitable choice for any email marketer, whether you are new to coding or have years of experience.  The coding engine offers code ‘hints’ for new users and works with the developer to keep code clean, reduce errors and improve readability.  It has three main view screens, code, design and side-by-side.  This is incredibly useful as it allows you o see how your code is affecting the design.

A new feature we love is ‘snippets‘.  Snippets are sections of code (e.e. headers, footers or images with text) which you code once, then save for use later.  When you next have a template that needs that snippet in it, you can easily drop it in, making development faster and more accurate.

Dreamweaver has the same pricing structure as the rest fo the Adobe Creative Cloud, so you can own it for just £17.15 a month.

 

 

 

​​3). Litmus ​​

Litmus is an email testing tool which allows you to check how your emails will look across a wide variety of email clients and apps.  The main thing we love about Litmus is that it saves you from having to create test email accounts across all email clients, allowing you to test everything in one central place.

You can test everything from link tracking to email load time.  They even have a section of the tool called ‘checklist’, which is essentially your pre-flight check before sending your email.  It will help you catch broken links, optimise loading speed and check how your email works with images on and off.  This section is fantastic – especially as it allows you to choose which browsers and clients you want to see.  It covers desktop, mobile and tablet – we couldn’t recommend it more.

Litmus also has its Community Area, where you can ask questions to hundreds of other developers and share in each other’s  experiences to make your emails even better.  They also produce emails themselves which keep you up-to-date with the latest email trends.

Litmus does offer a free 7 day trial, but after that prices range from $79 a month to $399 a month (for the Brits out there, that’s approx £63 – £320 a month).  They do have a pricing option where can tailor your package, so it only contains what you actually need; like an email pick’n’mix.

 

 

 

 4). Send Forensics

Send Forensics is an email deliverability tool that focuses specifically on making sure your emails hit your customer’s inboxes. It’s very advanced, and works to safeguard your email reputation and boost engagement.

You can run a free email deliverability test that will score your email and tell you the percentage will end up in spam, however to get the full features it costs $49 a month.

Once you sign up to the full features version, the software not only gives you a deliverability score, but what elements of your emails are trigger spam – whether its due to your content or the technical makeup of your email, for example if there is no SFP set up.

(Here’s some tips on avoiding spam filters)

It will mark your vocabulary and copywriting, judging words you’ve used and highlighting any negative one that are hindering your deliverability, and offers you alternative phrases to use instead.  It also highlights any positive keywords to demonstrate the phrases helping your email deliverability.  Send Forensics will even rate your copywriting tone of voice in determining whether you are being overly promotional or conversational in your tone.

 

One of the really standout aspects of Send Forensics are all the technical checks it undertakes when examining your email.  Not only will it check the image:text ratio, and inspect the quality of the links you provide, it will also dive under the skin of your email set-up, domain authority and IP address to check your sending reputation, noting any sites that have blacklisted your IP or technical problems that might be hindering you reaching the inbox.

All this might sound very technical, but Send Forensics is anything but.  The software is exceptionally user friendly, and offers advice on how to undertake any actions it suggests, making it an ideal solution for email newbies.

5). Email on Acid

Email on Acid is another email testing tool that will help you make sure your emails look great across devices and clients.  It provides coding tips and marketing guides via their blog, and also has a forum where you can post techniques and questions to other email developers – however if this is one of your main uses, we would probably recommend going with Litmus as they tend to provide answers faster.

It comes in cheaper than Litmus at $45 – $295 per month, however unlike Litmus they don’t provide a custom tailored option, meaning you have to take everything in each package.  Both LItmus and Email on Acid’s basic package come with one user, but Litmus’ most popular package comes with five users, whereas Email on Acid only has the one user account.  E

Email on Acid is a cheaper alternative if you are a small business with only one users, but if you’re a bigger business, definitely opt for Litmus.

Say the words “Build me an email” to a developer and watch the expression on their face drop. Yes, HTML emails are old school, but there’s no need to don a loin cloth and start chipping out code from a stone tablet.

Email has come on leaps and bounds within the last few years, and with open rates frequently increasing on mobile devices, there are a few tips and tricks you can use for responsive emails.

 

Here are a few favourites to keep you building successful, responsive emails:

 1). Keep inline

If you have tried building an email before, you have probably heard of this one. This is basically adding any style changes you make to the containing table of your content.

For example:

<td style=”font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:11px; color:#000000;”>Hello World</td>

The main benefit behind using this styling is that some email clients will strip out embedded CSS in the <head>, leaving your email with as much style as socks and sandals.

Email developers have already started trialing emails with no inline CSS, which are not 100% foolproof yet, but with a large percentage of global email clients supporting embedded CSS, there is hope for cleaner emails in the future.

 

2). Query your media

Let’s say you want that image smaller, or a different font for that block of text, or you need that column to stack on mobile… not a problem! Media query to the rescue.  Media queries are the CSS3 commands that allow you to change your viewpoint depending on your screen resolution,  meaning that your imagery and content will display differently on different devices… thus making your content fully responsive.

Within the <head> of any email there will be a minimum width set, for instance 480px which will control and sometimes constrain how your media is displayed.  But, if you add a media query to your style command, any styles that you set within that media query will take over when the screen resolution drops below the minimum width.

For example:

<style type=”text/css”>

    body {width: 680px;  background-color:#000000;}

    @media only screen and (max-width:480px) {
        body {width:100% !important;  background-color:#ffffff !important;}
    }

</style>

This means your image can be any size, the font family can styled differently for each resolution, and you can stack your columns all day long. Happy days!

 

3). Stacking

 We briefly mentioned stacking columns in the last tip.  As you’d expect, this coding command allows you to stack columns on top of one another by setting them as .stackonmobile {display:block;} for mobile. This coding tip helps with mobile optimisation by making sections of your email more visible and legible on smaller screen resolutions, instead of trying to squash them into one column.

The default for stacking was left to right for a long time, however more recently we can now reverse stack, by setting the containing tables text direction as right to left.

For example:

<table width=“600” dir=“rtl”>
    <tr>
        <th width=“300” dir=“ltr” class=“stackonmobile”>World</th>
        <th width=“300” dir=“ltr” class=“stackonmobile”>Hello</th>
    </tr>
</table>

Note that we need to redirect the sub-tables back to left to right for text alignment. Also the html layout will be reversed, right column first, which is why ‘World’ is before ‘Hello’ in the example above.
Also note that we have used <th> instead of <td> for Android compatibility, as they dropped the use of display:block on td’s.

 

4). Min vs Max

With screen resolutions getting bigger and bigger, is it a good idea to make our emails wider?
When I started in email builds (back in the dark ages of blackboards and chalk written HTML), the width was 585px. This slowly grew to a standard 600px, which seems to still be the acceptable size. Most of the emails we produce today are anywhere between 600px & 720px. Occasionally a 1000px email rears it’s oversized head, but these are usually for big occasions with large hero images for impact.

What we need to remember is that emails will still be framed by the email clients furniture i.e. the inbox list, the search and edit tools, sender details etc. So an oversized email might end up stretching beyond the width of the screen, which results in an ugly horizontal scroll bar at the bottom… and nobody wants that.

So remember, size does matter.  Always aim for the optimal image size depending on the platform or device being used to ensure your emails remain mobile responsive.

 

5). Bring it to the Table

With email development, it’s all about the tables. Below you’ll find an example of an email HTML table.

Example:
<table width=“100%”>
    <tr>
    <td align=”center”>
        <table width=“700”>
            <tr>
            <td align=”center”>
                <table width=“100%”>
                    <tr>
                    <td align=“center”>Hello</td>
                    </tr>
                </table>
            </td>
            </tr>
        </table>
    </td>
    </tr>
</table>            

The first outer table is set at 100% width to ensure the table is centred within the main body of the email itself.  Then the body table is set at your desired email width (i.e. 700px as above) with a 100% media query class.  By setting the tables within the body to 100%, this helps to ensure the content flows responsively when scaled down to a smaller screen resolution.

 

Handy tip: When building emails using tables, make sure you repeat your inline styles.  A table within a table will lose styling in some email clients, especially background colour and font attributes.
And another handy tip: Try and make sure you nest your tables, and avoid using colspans in your email code. Outlook has a nasty habit of ignoring colspans and rowspans, so nesting your tables will give you more control over your code, making you a happier developer.

 

6). A font by any other name

Be on the lookout in Outlook, your font might not be the font you wanted! 
Having a backup or fallback font within your email code is exceptionally useful to ensure your emails always look the way you want them to, even if the email provider doesn’t have your first choice font.

However… Outlook 2007/10/13 has other ideas, and will automatically apply their own fallback font or Times New Roman. Even if you set fallback fonts in your code, Outlook ignores them. Cheers Outlook.

But wait, there is a fix.. phew!
<!–[if mso]>
<style type=”text/css”>
    body, table, td {font-family: Arial, sans-serif, Helvetica !important;}
</style>
<![endif]–>

Drop this code into the <head> of an email and Outlook will pick up the web safe fonts first, so you can safely steer clear of Times New Roman.
Font-astic!

 

7). Does my article look big in this?

A bit of extra padding never did anyone any harm, but adding Padding and Margins to your table styles could harm the way your email looks, as some email clients might ignore them.

Spacer images used to be the way to use padding in emails. Developers would use transparent 12px x 12px gifs and fit them into every nook and cranny of their emails… sounds tedious doesn’t it?

Luckily there is an alternative which is much more efficient to implement, and works across all email clients successfully… A non-breaking space (&nbsp;) – just add font size, line height and a width/height depending on the space you require:

 

<td style=”font-size:20px; line-height:20px;” height=”20″>&nbsp;</td>

So now your emails and tables will always be lean and evenly spaced…no padding required.

 

8). The (Alt)ernative

 When your emails load quickly, you get to display every image and aspect of you email in all its glory. But what happens when you’re a slow connection speed or your email client is blocking images by default?

You could end up with empty spaces where your images used to be, but hopefully you will see the Alt text – the alternative text that’s displayed when an image can’t display.

Some email clients won’t load images automatically, so without any Alt text you could get a blank looking email. 🙁

Example Alt text:
<img src=“images/hello-world-title.jpg” width=”200″ height=”40″ alt=“Hello World”/>

Another alternative is to actually style your Alt text so that it’s less bland if it gets displayed. Add a font-family, font-size, font-colour or text-decoration, so you try and match the image style, and get your email looking good if the images don’t load.

Example stylised Alt text:
<img src=“images/hello-world-title.jpg” width=”200″ height=”40″ alt=“Hello World” style=“font-size:16px; font-weight: bold; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; color:#ffffff;”/>

 

9). Hamburger to go please

Now that emails have further CSS3 support, it’s allowed many developers to start introducing some great responsive features to their email code.

The Hamburger Menu (so called because it looks like a little burger between a bun) is one example of this.

Those long menus on an email don’t need to be stacked half way down your mobile screen anymore, they can be tucked away neatly in a clickable, drop down menu, making your email more mobile-friendly and more visually appealing.  Just need the fries to go with it now!

 

 

 

10). Give yourself a fighting chance

Make sure you are putting yourself in the best possible position for email building. One of the ways you can do this is to get the right software. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a list of our favourite email development tools, from design right through to deployment.

Check them our Email Tools blog and start getting the best results out of your emails.

Whatever you do, keep experimenting with your HTML/CSS emails, even if you end up with Frankenstein’s monster there might be a small part that works really well, or another that will give you a further understanding of where to go next.

Happy coding!

Email is constantly evolving. As email marketers, part of the fun of what we do is exploring new ways to engage audiences with email. It can also be a struggle at times. Email inboxes are increasingly crowded with promotional emails as more and more companies use email to communicate.

To help the end user, organisations like Google have customised their inbox layouts to include the segregation of promotional emails from the primary inbox, social media emails and general updates. These updates make it trickier for your emails to get noticed in subscriber’s inboxes, so it’s important to make your campaign attention-grabbing. One of the best methods we’ve seen over the years is by introducing dynamic content into email campaigns.

Dynamic content is essentially using what you know about your customers to provide them with content that is relevant to them. This can be anything from knowing the gender of your users and using the information to show them female/male specific products, to using birthday information to create a personalised birthday message for them each year. This technique allows you to send highly targeted information to your subscribers, and the best part is you can do it all through one email.

What are the benefits?

Higher levels of engagement
It might seem simple, but it also makes a lot of sense. Why would subscribers be interested in your campaign if it’s not relevant to them? To engage people, you need to provide content they find useful or enjoyable (or hopefully both!).

Saves time
Before dynamic content existed, companies would spend unbelievable amounts of time creating separate emails for the same campaign. It was the only way to do it if you wanted to try and personalise. Now, the only bit which takes any time is the creation of the main email and then positioning your content in a dynamic setting.

Shorter emails
This might seem like an odd one but many users don’t actually scroll all the way down to the end of an email; they scan for a couple of seconds and if they don’t find what they want they close the email. Goodbye to your click thru rates. Dynamic content enables emails to be shorter as you’re not trying to squeeze everything into one email in the hope that everyone on your database will find something interesting.

It’s technically interesting!
One for the front-end nerds out there. Dynamic coding is pretty fun (this is system dependent, of course). We’re very lucky with Enabler because it makes coding really easy to do. Enabler, like some other systems, will allow you to view the email in situ as anyone in your database would. This means no messy test emails, and no time wasting!

How can you get started?

The number one thing you need for dynamic content to work is information about your subscribers. There are lots of types of data you can use to make it work and you can even be inspired by your data:

Behavioural data – what have your users done before? What have they bought or read? When they were last on your website, what caught their eye? This data is incredibly useful when planning your campaigns. It can allow you to distinguish marketing to your leads and to your existing customers. It can influence what call to actions you use, where you use them, and other content placement decisions. It can also be used to influence pre-emptive emails based on previously purchased content.Groupon

Transactional data – what did your customers spend their money on? How often do they do this? Are they abandoning their baskets at checkout? Transactional data gives you incredible insight into the buying potential of your customers. Using this information, you could send reminder emails to customers who have left products in their baskets, remind customers of special offers based on content they’ve viewed, and provide buying recommendation emails based on previous purchases.

Demographic data – what gender or age are your subscribers? Where are they based? Knowing a customer’s gender can be really useful for something like fashion based emails, knowing their location can help with events promotions or deals in shops local to them. One of the best examples I’ve seen of this is Groupon:

They send out daily emails which are targeted by region. All the offers in their emails actually contain deals which are near to the post code I provided them with, and the copy reflects this. Check out this ‘Afternoon tea for two’ offer (right). It tells me how far from me it is, what the discount is, mentions the word Londoners and it really pushes the personalisation of the email in the top banner.

If you want to take all of this a step further, once you have completed your dynamic campaign you can also do some reporting on the campaign to find out what worked, then tailor your next campaign based on this information. Remember, with all of these options, testing is key.

The final checklist for dynamic content success

1. Accurate data – there’s no point trying without this. Why use information about your database if it’s not correct?

2. An Email Service Provider that supports dynamic content (if you want more information about Enabler, get in touch)

3. Knowledge of your customer database – what sort of targeting do you think will work on your list? For fashion brands, the key one is gender, for insurance we’re looking at regions and preference based sending, but what will work for your brand?

4. Testing – keep trying new things, A/B test to your hearts content. Never stop testing your email campaigns!

In today’s market, there is no better way to improve results of your campaigns than through dynamic content. Dynamic content is to the email marketing world what Dumbledore is to the wizarding world. Pure brilliance.