What is Dynamic Email Content? Definition and Examples

what is dynamic email content cover image with scrabble tiles

Every morning, your audience’s inboxes are flooded with countless messages. The vast majority, crammed with one-size-fits-all messages, are quickly swiped into the digital abyss. 

But in this clutter, there are those few emails that pause thumbs and spark interest — the ones that seem to speak directly to the reader’s needs and preferences. 

This is the magic of personalization. More specifically, it’s dynamic email content — templated emails whose content matches what the subscriber finds more valuable. Dynamic content lets you transform your message from just another drop in the digital ocean to a message that resonates. 

In this post, we’ll discuss what dynamic email content is and how it can help you turn the challenge of email saturation into an opportunity to truly connect with your audience.


Table of Contents


What Is Dynamic Email Content?

Unlike traditional emails that deliver the same message to every subscriber, dynamic content tailors what each person sees when they open the email. In a nutshell, it involves tweaking parts of the HTML code to show content that matches customer data and preferences.

Dynamic content is an essential aspect of personalization. It lets you target each subscriber differently without sending a different email for each. 

There are two types of dynamic email content.


Personalized Content Based on User Profiles

This involves tailoring parts of the email, such as the subject line or specific sentences, to align with information in a user’s profile. A common idea is to use the recipient’s name in the subject line and greeting. 

Once you add a merge field, your email marketing software pulls the data from each user’s profile and embeds the correct information before sending each email. 

Here’s how you can easily do this on our platform: 

Dynamic email personalization based on user profiles in Campaign Refinery
Dynamic email personalization based on user profiles in Campaign Refinery

Segment-based Content Blocks

These are HTML code sections within the email that vary for different groups of subscribers. You segment your list and send each segment relevant content. The segmentation strategy can be based on various shared characteristics among groups, like location, age, or purchase history.

Suppose you own an online bookshop and plan to set up an email marketing campaign for Christmas. But not all customers have the same taste in books. 

So, you can create a personalized book recommendation campaign. You keep all parts of the email the same and change the recommendation section based on previous customer purchases. It’s an efficient method to fine-tune your copy to get better results. 


Do You Need Technical Skills for Dynamic Email Content?

Implementing dynamic emails is simpler than many people think. You don’t need advanced technical skills. Basic familiarity with email marketing platforms is usually enough.

Most email marketing solutions include features like drag-and-drop editors, which let you easily create and customize your emails. These platforms also offer templates that you can use as a starting point for adding dynamic content. 

This means you can personalize emails based on subscriber data without needing to know complex coding or technical details.


Real-World Dynamic Email Content Examples

With the definitions out of the way, let’s consider a few examples of successful campaigns that use dynamic content.  We’ll give you practical insights and inspiration to help you see how you can incorporate dynamic content into your own email marketing funnels

TED Talks Tailored to Your Preferences

TED Personalized Email
TED’s newsletter with personalized picks

TED’s recommendations are an excellent example of dynamic content done right. Every week, the company sends a curated list of talks based on the user’s interests. So, each email newsletter is tailored to the recipient’s preferred topics, such as health, personal growth, society, and culture. 

This approach makes the content more relevant to individual readers, which means more traffic will land on TED’s website. 

Here’s why the email works so well: 

  1. Personalized content: The email includes talks curated to the subscriber’s interests, so each message feels bespoke.
  2. Clear CTAs: With explicit “Watch now” and “Read transcript” buttons, the email makes it easy for subscribers to take the next step.
  3. Data-driven: TED uses subscriber preferences to personalize content, which indicates a strategic approach to content delivery.
  4. Brand reinforcement: The campaign reinforces TED’s brand as a thought leader by providing valuable and insightful content.

Medium’s Curated Reads to Spark Your Day

Medium’s daily newsletter with a curated list of articles
Medium’s daily newsletter with a curated list of articles

Medium, the online publishing platform, takes a similar approach with its daily digests. The platform’s users publish more than 40,000 articles every day. No one can sift through that many titles to find something they might enjoy reading. 

So, how does Medium get people to interact with the content? 

It collects your preferences during sign-up and fine-tunes them as you interact with the platform. Then, it uses those preferences to send you a daily list of the top articles you might be interested in. 

Other than personalization, this dynamic content solution works for multiple reasons: 

  1. Topic diversity: Although the recommendations revolve around the recipient’s interests, the newsletter includes a variety of topics. So, there’s a high chance that the recipient will find something interesting. 
  2. Encourages discovery: The email format helps users discover new topics and authors, so they can expand their interests on the platform.
  3. Clear layout: The digest format has clear headlines, an email-friendly font, and vivid images that make it easy to scan and choose the articles you find intriguing. 

Personalized Paths to Giving Back

VolunteerMatch’s newsletter for volunteer opportunities
VolunteerMatch’s newsletter for volunteer opportunities

This is one of the best examples of effective email marketing, especially among nonprofits, which are notorious for bad email marketing practices

VolunteerMatch smartly uses dynamic content to recommend volunteer opportunities tailored to the recipient’s interests and location. The aim is to connect potential volunteers with causes that resonate with them and are conveniently accessible. 

By personalizing the opportunities, VolunteerMatch increases the likelihood of recipients signing up. This way, it supports its network of nonprofit organizations and fosters a community of active volunteers.

Why does this email work? 

  1. Personalized subject line: The subject line includes the recipient’s name followed by “we have 8 more ways for you to get involved with your community.” The phrase is clear and intriguing, so it’s likely to generate more opens and increase click-throughs
  2. Clear categorization: Divides opportunities by new listings and types, like group-friendly, to simplify decision-making.
  3. Prominent CTA: Includes a donation option for those who may not have time to volunteer, expanding ways to contribute.
  4. Visually appealing design: It uses a clean layout with color-coding for readability and engagement.

Tailoring Your Job Hunt with LinkedIn Alters

LinkedIn uses dynamic content in job alert emails
LinkedIn uses dynamic content in job alert emails

 

LinkedIn’s job alert emails target people on job hunts by sending them a curated list of relevant job openings across a geographic area. These emails simplify the job search process by pre-selecting opportunities that match the subscriber’s interests. 

LinkedIn’s goal is to streamline the job-hunting experience, increase platform engagement, and promote their premium service.

Here’s what’s good about the personalized job alert: 

  1. Clear and actionable: Presents job titles and companies in a clear way, making it easy to assess opportunities at a glance.
  2. Encourages platform use: Prompts users to apply through LinkedIn, keeping the job application process within the ecosystem.
  3. Promotes the premium service: Introduces the advantage of LinkedIn’s premium features, encouraging users to consider an upgrade.

Your SEO Scorecard with the Google Search Console

Google Search Console’s monthly traffic report
Google Search Console’s monthly traffic report

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free service that helps website owners monitor their site’s performance in Google Search results. 

The platform sends a monthly personalized performance report to website owners. While the previous examples of dynamic content focused on marketing or service offerings, GSC directly reports user-specific data, such as website clicks and impressions. 

The screenshot above only shows part of the report. The recipient also sees their top-ranking pages, most relevant keywords, and potential technical issues. The email aims to engage website owners by summarizing their site’s search performance and encouraging them to use GSC to improve their SEO.

Here’s what makes this dynamic email content unique: 

  1. Data-driven personalization: Shares specific performance metrics relevant to the user’s website.
  2. Action-oriented information: Provides data that users can act upon to improve their website’s performance.
  3. Direct relevance: Every piece of data is directly applicable to the user’s own website, unlike broader marketing content.
  4. Visually intuitive: Uses graphics and color-coded metrics to make the performance data easy to understand. 

ClickUp WrapUp: Unveiling Your Productivity Story

ClickUp Personalized Email
ClickUp Personalized Email

ClickUp, the productivity and project management platform, took a playful approach to data personalization with its “ClickUp WrapUp 2023” email campaign. The email invites users to review their yearly productivity on the platform. 

Unlike the straightforward analytics in GSC, ClickUp entices users with the promise of revealing their “productivity persona,” a fun, gamified twist on year-end summaries. So, technically, this campaign doesn’t use conventional dynamic content, but it uses personalization in a creative way. 

The goal is to increase user engagement by offering a personalized summary of their activity. I turned out to be a Gossip Queen because I used the @mention feature more than anything. 

Here are the reasons for this campaign’s effectiveness: 

  1. Engaging visuals: Uses bright, attractive graphics to draw attention and reinforces the brand’s colors. 
  2. Fun gamification: Adds an element of curiosity and mystery with the “productivity persona” concept.
  3. Year-end reflection: Prompts users to reflect on their accomplishments, which they likely achieved while using ClickUp. So, the campaign potentially reinforces platform loyalty.

Here’s a summary of real-world examples to illustrate the versatility and impact of dynamic content in email marketing.

PlatformHow it uses dynamic contentWhy it works 
TEDCurated talks based on interestsIncreased relevance
Higher engagement
Promotes discoverability
MediumTailored article recommendationsTime-saving
Enhances user experience
Drives traffic to the website 
VolunteerMatchLocalized volunteer opportunitiesIncreases matches 
Improves click-through rates
Encourages platform usage
LinkedInJob alerts based on user preferences and location Targeted job listings
Direct and actionable
Encourages platform use
Google Search ConsolePersonalized website performance reportsData-driven insights
User engagement
Improves decision-making
ClickUpYear-end summaries with a playful twist on user activityEnhances user experience
Increases retention
Use gamification 
Dynamic email content in action

4+5 Reasons to Integrate Dynamic Content into Your Emails 

Dynamic content is a powerful tool for creating meaningful connections with your audience. Rather than casting a wide net with broadcast messages, it lets you address your subscribers with precision and personal touch. 

This approach brings plenty of advantages to your email marketing efforts, including these ones: 


1. Higher Engagement

Dynamic content email is personalization at its peak. You send each subscriber exactly what they need. 

This will raise the chances of readers finding your content valuable. Instead of skimming and moving on, they’re more likely to click through, watch videos, read articles, and even respond to calls to action. 

Over time, users learn to expect that level of personalization and become more engaged because your brand consistently delivers content that matches their evolving interests. 


2. Better User Experience

Users interact with your brand in different ways. Sending them dynamic emails will show them that you care about their needs. They’ll see that you’re aware of and value every interaction they make with your brand. 

Plus, personalization through dynamic content helps reduce the noise of irrelevant content. So, instead of having to sift through a one-size-fits-all email, your users can immediately focus on what’s relevant to them, which saves time and reduces frustration.


3. Higher Conversion Rates 

A personal touch ensures that offers, products, or services featured in an email are relevant to the recipient. So, they’re more likely to respond positively and take your desired action. For example, a user who frequently browses romance novels is more likely to make a purchase if they receive an email promoting a Jane Austin book. 

Ultimately, by reducing the friction between desire and action, dynamic content makes it easy for users to make decisions


4. More Efficient Processes 

Crafting emails that cater to every individual customer is counter-productive and time-consuming. With dynamic content, instead of creating a separate campaign for each segment, you craft one for your entire subscriber base and change only parts of your email. This saves your team a lot of time and effort. 


5 Extra Benefits of Dynamic Email Content 

Let’s explore the additional benefits of incorporating dynamic content in your email campaigns: 

  1. Drives traffic to your website: Encourages recipients to visit your website or platform to consume the full content. 
  2. Data-driven insights: Uses interaction data to refine future email campaigns and ensures continuous improvement in targeting.
  3. Increases retention: Personalized and relevant content encourages subscribers to stay engaged over time, which translates to lower unsubscribe rates and better long-term relationships.
  4. Promotes discoverability: Helps subscribers discover new products, services, or content that they might not have found otherwise but are likely to be interested in.
  5. Encourages platform usage: By providing unique, user-specific content, dynamic emails increase the likelihood of subscribers relying on and returning to the platform or service.

Parts of Dynamic Email Content

Your customer data can help you customize your email content in a variety of ways. You can personalize just about any part of your email. 

The easiest and most common idea is to retrieve the recipient’s name from their profile and embed it into the email using a merge field. But your options are much more varied. Let’s go over a few ideas. 


Subject Line

A catchy subject line is key in drawing the reader’s attention and increasing open-rates. If it speaks to the recipient’s needs and preferences, there’s a higher chance that they open your email. 

Use this opportunity to give your readers a hint of what’s inside the email and how it can benefit them on a personal level. 

If a recipient recently browsed a specific product or service, mentioning it in the subject line can re-spark their interest. For example , “John, take another look at the gaming laptop you loved.” Tailoring the subject line based on the recipient’s location can also make the email more relevant. For example, “Special weekend deals just for our Chicago customers!”


Email Body

This is where you can get the most creative and deliver content fine-tuned to your subscribers’ preferences. You can send them welcome messages, product recommendations, tutorials, how-tos, guides, or thank-you notes, to show you care about them and bring them value. 

If you run a service-based business, you can provide personalized tips or insights based on the subscriber’s past activities. For example, a fitness app might send workout suggestions based on the user’s exercise history, or a financial service might offer tailored advice based on the user’s investment choices.


CTAs

No matter how engaging your body is, it’s nothing if it doesn’t lead to a follow-up behavior, preferably sales. You need to seal the deal with an enticing call-to-action link to make the email campaign worthwhile.

Writing a personalized CTA increases the chances of the reader doing what you want. When you have a good grip on your audience’s likes and dislikes, you know how to entice them to do your desired action. And it can be easier than customizing the other parts because you can go with the main body’s flow and ask the reader to do something related. 


Sign offs

Your email sign-off allows you to wrap the message in a consistent flow. Although it may be more rigid than other parts, you can use many customizing options to make it part of your dynamic content. The main body of the email can help you come up with a relevant sign-off. 


Visuals

Not every email consists of just text and copy. Many businesses, especially e-commerce brands, use visuals like images, videos, or GIFs to recommend products. 

You can also use infographics and videos to train and guide your customers. Sending customized visuals can increase your customer loyalty by heaps and bounds.  

Visuals can stir emotions in readers that texts can’t. Plus, they’re more appealing and easily noticeable. So, there’s a higher chance that your readers will engage with them. 


How to Create an Email with Dynamic Content

Dynamic content can be turned on or off depending on when/if you want to use it. Rather than having to type separate emails for everyone in your contact list, dynamic content allows you to change specific aspects depending on the group you’re sending it to.

  1. Collect data. 
  2. Segment your contacts. 
  3. Design your email template. 
  4. Create content variations for different segments. 
  5. Preview and test your email. 

Let’s consider each step in more detail. 


Collect Data

Personalization starts with data. It gives you everything you need to know about their preferences, demographics, behaviors, and activities. Depending on your business, different data may be relevant for using dynamic email content. 

For example, if you’re an e-commerce company, knowing what products each customer prefers is essential. But a business with a B2B strategy should know more about the audience’s industry or organizational structure to send them the right content. 

You can collect data in different ways and through different stages of the customer journey. The most common method is surveys. You can give your subscribers questions to answer when signing up for your emails or after making a purchase. 


Segment Your Contacts

Now that you have enough data, you should categorize your audience accordingly. First, you should decide on relevant categories for your business. Do you want to segment your audience based on their gender? Age? Shopping preferences? Or location? 

Here’s a rundown of the ways you can segment your groups and send dynamic content based on these segments. 

Segmentation criteriaExampleDescription
OccasionsBirthdaysHolidaysMilestones Season and weather Sending content or recommending products to celebrate a customer’s birthday or anniversary 
Customer DataLocationDemographics Customer behavior Recommending products or sending tailored content based on the customer’s location, gender, or preferences
Products Abandoned cartsPrevious purchasesPopular products Recommending related products based on previous purchases or popular products on your website
Different ways to segment your list

Design Your Email Template

You need a consistent layout that can adapt to different types of content while maintaining a coherent brand identity. The template will remain the same, but specific HTML elements will change based on the recipient’s data. 

So, your template needs distinct HTML blocks or sections to display the dynamic content. 

Your email marketing solution should give you the tools you need. Most platforms have text editors that let you send mass personalized emails using merge fields that pull data from each user’s profile. 

There are also drag-and-drop editors that allow you to assemble your email layout without technical skills. They’re ideal for creating modular designs and placeholder areas for dynamic content. 

Finally, your template should be responsive, meaning it adjusts seamlessly across different devices and screen sizes. If you’re using a template provided by your email marketing software, you probably don’t have much to worry about. But if you’re using a custom template, test it on multiple devices. 


Create Content Variations

Create specific content for each segment. Again, your email marketing platform plays a big role here. It should give you conditional content blocks that display based on segmentation rules

You also need a robust library where you can store and manage different content variations. 

Finally, consider whether you need to pull data from a different application or database, like your CRM or CMS. In this case, you’ll need integration capabilities or API access, and hooking things up might need a bit of technical expertise. 


Preview and Test Your Email

Before hitting the send button, make sure everything is working as intended. Check whether the dynamic elements are loading correctly. 

Also, test your content on multiple email clients and devices to ensure visual consistency. Once you’re confident that everything looks and functions as expected, send it out to your subscribers. 


Getting the Most out of Your Dynamic Email Campaigns

We’ve covered a lot of details so far, but there’s always room for fine-tuning.

Here are a few more tips to take your campaigns to the next level:

  • Personalize email preheaders: The preheader, aka preview text, is a short snippet that comes after the subject line when you view an email from the inbox. You can tailor the preheader text for an additional layer of personalization that can increase open rates.
  • Adapt to subscriber behavior: Continuously analyze how subscribers interact with your emails. Use these insights to adjust your content and keep it engaging. 
  • Refine your segmentation over time: As you collect more data, revisit your segmentation strategies. The more precise your segments, the more targeted and effective your content can be.
  • Experiment with send times: Experiment with different times and days to discover the best time to send emails.

Next-Level Email Marketing with Campaign Refinery

With your newfound understanding of dynamic content, the next piece of the puzzle is choosing a platform that makes personalization straightforward and effective. 

This is where Campaign Refinery comes in. Our platform simplifies creating and delivering personalized emails, with our simple but powerful text editor. 

But there’s more to email marketing than just personalization. At Campaign Refinery, we specialize in ensuring your meticulously crafted emails actually reach their destination – the inbox. Because an unread email is an opportunity missed.

Curious about how we do it?

“The Inbox Formula” is your window into our world of email expertise. Compiled from our extensive work with leading marketers, this guide is packed with insights for anyone looking to boost their email engagement. 

Here’s an overview of what you’ll learn: 

  • Proven strategies to ensure your emails land where they’re meant to — in your subscribers’ inboxes.
  • A no-fuss walkthrough of domain authentication protocols. These might sound technical, but we make them accessible and easy to implement.
  • Insider tips from the world’s top email marketers on scaling email volume without losing out on performance.

If you’re ready to enhance your email campaigns, “The Inbox Formula” is your next step.

Download “The Inbox Formula” Now! 

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