Archive for December, 2011

Continuing on from our post last week around personalising your email campaigns, I thought I would expand on this. This week we explore dynamic content as a way to enhance your campaigns, increasing the relevance and personalisation, by tailoring the content to specific recipients using dynamic content.

What is Dynamic content?
It is an element within an email campaign that changes from one subscriber to another depending on the data you have for them in your database.

In other words, it’s the perfect way to customise your email, improve the relevance of your content, and better meet your recipient’s individual needs. And it starts with knowing your recipients’ preferences.

In our Top Tips post we introduced preference centers.  They are a handy but often under utilised tool, that allows your recipients to update their own contact details, quickly and easily. This means you’ll obtain their correct email address, know which of your emails they want to receive, and what their individual preferences are in terms of content, frequency etc.

Once you have your preference centre up and running, and your subscribers’ details are all up to date, you can really start tailoring your campaigns to better suit each individual. So you can make sure its toys for Molly and tools for Ben and not the other way round!

So how do you set this up? What’s involved?


Well, dynamic content essentially comprises of two key parts:


  1. Dynamic content blocks
  2. Dynamic content rules


The first step is to create the different blocks of content that will swap out within your email. These blocks are called Dynamic Content Blocks. This is where you would create dynamic content block 1, named ‘Tools’, and dynamic content block 2, named ‘Toys’.

Once you have created the different blocks and filled them with juicy content, the next step is to create and manage the rules that will pull the content into your email.

Once you’ve set up these rules, and put the dynamic content links into your email, the best way to test this and see that the right dynamic content is pulling through for the right people is to test. If you’re using the SmartMail PRO platform, we recommend you use the ‘Live Test’ function, which allows you to send a mock live send using your real data, but to yourself, not the recipient, so you can cross check your data against what is pulling through in the email to ensure that Ben is getting tools and not toys.

If you would like to talk more about what dynamic content can do for you, contact us at support@smartmailpro.comfor some expert advice.

Dear {first name} – think before you personalise.

This week we continue on from our ‘Top Tips’ post from last week, and discuss clever personalisation of email campaigns.

If you’ve been subscribing to email marketing campaigns for any length of time you’re probably familiar with personalisation. Done well, it can feel like the sender is reaching out to you and you alone, calling you by name and making you feel special by offering relevant content or offers just for YOU. On the other hand, some personalisation can look like it’s straight out of the spammer’s text book. And that doesn’t make you feel very special at all.

Personalisation isn’t a good or bad thing in itself. But when it gets misused for the sake of an extra open or click, it can have a negative effect on your campaigns. In these instances, it generally becomes less effective over time. And it can allow us to think that we’re creating “personal” emails when really all we are doing is just merging a name into the message.

A truly personal email is one that addresses the subscriber’s needs, desires, fears, preferences and other aspects of their lives, and gives them something tailored to them. Click here to see our earlier posts about preference centres.

Truly personal emails look at things like:

  • Which emails an individual subscriber has opened and clicked through from in the past
  • Where on your site they visit
  • How they originally found you and what inspired them to sign up to your list
  • Where they live geographically
  • Whether they like weekly digests, monthly updates, or daily emails
  • When their birthday is so you can send birthday emails
  • Their travel preferences so you can send them relevant updates
  • And many more options

A lot of this isn’t typically considered personalisation – it falls more under discussions of segmentation and targeting which leads us into dynamic content (which we’ll discuss next week).  But I think it’s worth considering that relevance and personalisation are somewhat interchangeable when we think about it from the subscriber’s perspective, and not our own. A relevant email is personal, and a truly personal email is relevant.

So does personalisation really work? Have some people gotten too lazy or too cheeky with it? Some people would argue all personalisation is good personalisation, it all drives up open rates. Done well, yes I agree.  But it would need to be tested to see how effective it was for your campaigns and whether it had any effect on open rates. The other side of it is, are we all about open rates? Or do we think it matters more that we connect with the recipient and create engagement, and an email that people enjoy reading? (We do)

And while merge fields are great for pulling through small snippets of information, such as First Name, Account Number and Email Address, Dynamic Content is used for more complex arrangements.

Next week we look at how you can use dynamic content to further enhance personalisation to customize content depending on your recipient’s preferences/interests.


Carrying on from last week’s post about the best tips for your Christmas campaigns, we came up with many more top tips we wanted to share so here are our top 5 tips for right now:

1)       When is the best time to send your campaign?

What we often say to clients is that your audience can influence when your send an email, i.e. Whether it is B2B or B2C, Gen Y or Baby Boomers, Mobile or Desktop, people who work in an office or people who work on the road.

If you want to test the best time to send to a particular audience, use the open rates as a guide, and test the same email across different times and dates over a period of time to see if there is a more definitive best time. 

2)       Get personal and let your customers speak for you

Giving your emails a more personal feel so that they grab the recipient by their name (literally) leaves a great impression that can’t be underestimated.

And go further by giving your recipients personalised content. Try incorporating customer voices into your messages, by including peer reviews, testimonials and comments into your emails. Having your customers talk about your products for you instantly humanizes your brand in a way that even the best promotional copy can’t match.

3)       Surveys, Forms and Clickthroughs

Clickthroughs are a great way to find out what content in your emails your recipients like reading more about – obviously the higher the clickthroughs the better. Use clickthrough reports to see what was popular and then tailor content and links accordingly in future email campaigns.

Take it that step further by including forms and surveys in your emails. They are a great way of asking for more information about your subscribers, for example what they are interested in and what they would like to see more of in your campaigns, that way, you know what they want and you can send more relevant emails, which drives up open rates. After all it’s all about engaging your audience, so give them what they want!

4)      Preference Centres

On the subject of finding out more about your subscribers, preference centres are a great way of getting to know your subscribers better by asking specifically what they are interested in. You can also use it to offer them a way to update their contact details and preferences, so you know you have their correct email address, and you know whether they want that weekly digest or just a monthly update.

Have these tips given you food for thought? Send us your own best email marketing tips!
You can submit them to us at Your tip might even get featured in a future blog post!