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Andrea Serventi
10 August 2017
Reading time: 5 min

How To Customize Emails Using Dynamic Fields

With a simple tag you can establish a one-on-one relationship with your recipients, taking full advantage of email openings and clicks. Everything about dynamic fields, from their possible uses to their configuration.

Let’s imagine welcoming a totally unknown client or, conversely, recognizing the client, greeting them by name, knowing what their job is, and which field they work in. Two totally different relationship dynamics that combine the physical and digital world.

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When it comes to customizing emails, segmentation is almost always highlighted, as it is fundamental for breaking your audience down into sections in order to send customized communications. But apart from segmentation, there is a world of additional customization that only a professional delivery platform can provide marketers with. In this post we will analyze one of these elements: dynamic fields, which are the variable element of an email that can provide a small but decisive incentive for customization.

What are dynamic fields?

Dynamic fields (also known as dynamic tags) are a feature that allows you to create special placeholder codes that you can use to customize messages. These placeholders are automatically replaced with recipients’ data during a message’s delivery.

More specifically, dynamic fields are elements inserted in square brackets (such as [name]) that the platform recognizes and replaces with the correct value for each single database contact.

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Using customizable variables is paramount in the world of services for all businesses who need to remind customers of appointments, the location of an appointment, or notify them of a change in time; they are also fundamental for all those businesses that must communicate booking numberspurchase codesproduct pickup dates.

Dynamic fields can be inserted into both the body of an email and its subject line in order to highlight a word, phrase, or brand. Copywriter Joanna Wiebe, for example, wanted to test the effectiveness of dynamic fields by carrying out an A/B test on two email templates: the first was with the name of her company in the tag’s [parentheses], and the other without. The first template had a 4% increase in openings.

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Going back to the email body, the dynamic field is a fundamental tool for customizing emails more finely. Not to mention that its use can also be extended to the world of SMS Marketing: with dynamic fields, you can customize text messages based on your contacts’ activities, interests, and master data.

In terms of customization, data collection is essential and must be carried out continuously as well as with the right tools. Refer to our blog post about this digital marketing topic for more information.

5 tips to consider

1.  Master data (and system data)

We’ve all received at least one email from a company that put our name in the body of the email. This is not the most innovative use of dynamic tags, but remains a must for email marketing. The mere fact that the sender has bothered to enter my name in the email can be a good incentive for opening the communication. But there are many more ways to leverage master data besides a customer’s name. For example, it would be helpful for a restaurant chain to send emails containing a reference to the city where the recipient lives. Here is a list of information that can be included in your emails thanks to dynamic tags.

First name
Last name
Email address
Telephone number
Residence (City/Region/Country)
Household income
Job title
Company information

In the MailUp platform, much of this information has the same name as the system fields, some is linked to recipient properties, and some is related to system settings.

2. Professional data for B2B

If you are a B2B company, you probably collect information on leads to enhance them with profiling activities. So why not use some of this data to customize email messages? Here’s an example: if you sell coffee makers and know the market segments your customers belong to, you can send the type of customized email that says: “We know how tough the world of [industry] can be. Can your employees count on good coffee to help them face the day?”. This is just an example, but it shows you how dynamic fields can give emails a greater degree of relevance. Here are other types of professional information that you can leverage with dynamic fields:

Company name
Type of business (non-profit, B2B, B2C, e-commerce, etc.)
Professional sector
Company size/number of employees
Website URL
Annual turnover
Business objective
Main competitor’s URL
Social media Information

3. Social media data

If your database contains recipients who are very present in social media and you know their profile names on various platforms, you can use this information to promote social campaigns or competitions. Here’s an example: “Hello [twitterusername], we’re launching a contest for our contacts who are most active on social media. We thought that you might be interested and we’d be delighted if you participated”. Below you can find some examples of information relating to social media:

Twitter Username
Twitter followers counter
Facebook page URL

4. CRM data

If, instead, your sending platform is linked to a CRM system, you could collect relevant information about your contacts’ behavior and activities from your website. You can convert this data to dynamic fields to mention their behavior and offer something that integrates that activity. Here’s an example: “On [registration date] you activated your free trial of the platform. You still have 20 days to exploit its potential: here’s an up-to-date guide for learning all the secrets”. There are an infinite number of opportunities for creating dynamic tags based on behavior:

Referral website
Date of the first (or last) conversion
Date of the first (or last) visit
Last opened/clicked email
Trial start date
Demo request date
Business contact date
Last item purchased
Name of assigned sales agent
Reference industry/business

5. Data on interests and preferences

Lastly, there’s the world of data relating to people’s interests. This is a large segment of the fundamental information in B2C. With profiling and landing page modules, you can ask your customers and prospects for some information to use to tailor personalized communications. Let’s take e-commerce as an example: Stitch Fix asks every new member to fill out a page with three tabs: Stats (body measurements), Fit (preferences i.e. slim, regular, skinny…), and Style (preferences i.e. business, casual, formal, night-out…).

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With all of this data, in addition to offering products in line with preferences, Stitch Fix can send emails with activated dynamic fields that show each user’s features. Here’s an example: “Hello [name], have you seen the new items in our new [cut] line of pants?”.

How to insert dynamic fields in MailUp

Once you’ve confirmed the data is present in a list of recipients, setting a dynamic field with MailUp is very simple. All you have to do is:

  • Open the message you are working on
  • Once inside the BEE editor, place your mouse at the point where you want to insert the dynamic tag
  • Select the item Merge tags from the toolbar, as shown in the image below
  • Choose the dynamic tag associated with one of your previously created fields on the platform.

An even faster way to do the same thing is by placing your mouse at the point of the text where you want to insert the tag and typing @: a drop-down menu will open that you can select the dynamic field from. This trick saves you several clicks and speeds everything up.

If your contact’s card doesn’t contain the data that activates the dynamic field, you can enter a default value. This is a good alternative that can serve as a necessary parachute, eliminating the risk of sending emails with a disabled tag. Here is where to find the default value field in MailUp:

  • Go to Messages Email and select the message you are working on
  • Click on Advanced settings
  • Choose Dynamic field default values
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If you want to set platform-level ​​default values and not just for single emails, all you have to do is:

  • Go to Settings Account settings > Recipient fields
  • Click on Actions next to the field you want to set the default value in, and select Edit. This screen will appear:
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From dynamic tags to dynamic content

As you may know, dynamic fields are just one of the tools available for defining campaigns. You can count on dynamic content for a broader level of customization: advanced marketing tools which, combined with filters, allow you to create customized newsletters and communications.

With dynamic content, you can dynamically change parts of a message based on who’s reading the email. The content can be text (the full name of the recipient), an image (different for men and women), a link (important based on who’s reading it), or an RSS feed (based on the contact’s interests).
With dynamic content, the same newsletter can have differentiated elements depending on whether recipients are, for example, men or women, clients or prospects, or in Milan or Rome.

Email is perhaps the digital marketing channel with the highest degree of customization. If you haven’t yet, come see for yourself: all you have to do is request a 30-day free trial, and you’ll have access to all of the MailUp platform’s profiling and segmentation features.

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Andrea Serventi

I was born in 1986 in Milan, where I graduated in Modern Literature and started writing for online newspapers, magazines and TV news programs. Having now converted to marketing and the digital world, I am a Content Editor at MailUp: I read, listen, collect ideas, and write about what email marketing is and how to use it strategically.

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