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Marketers know customers don’t just crave personalized content — they expect it in the business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) brands with which they interact. In fact,

  • 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that personalizes experiences. 
  • Organizations using advanced personalization generate 17% more revenue through their campaigns.
  • 71% of consumers feel frustrated with impersonal experiences. 

When trying to execute highly personalized email campaigns, however, marketers encounter many barriers. More than 40% of marketers cite a lack of resources — time, people, and money — as a significant challenge.

Additionally, more than 90% of marketers identify marketing as critical to their company’s overall success. In 2022, over 40% of companies plan to increase their investment in email marketing. Dynamic content automation is finding its moment to shine. 

Dynamic content automation combines data, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to create incredibly personalized, consumer-directed touchpoints. It enables marketers to integrate dynamic content templates into an email’s code. This allows them to seamlessly track on-site activity and subscriber behaviors, leveraging the data to instantly recommend personalized products in emails customized to subscribers’ unique needs.

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With an increased reliance on email in marketing, it has become critical for revenue generation that companies use highly targeted, personalized marketing initiatives and programs. Customers base their purchase decisions on brands able to provide them with connected experiences whenever and wherever they want. With the tools to leverage comprehensive data and dynamic content, marketers are better equipped to predict what their buyers want in specific scenarios.

Dynamic content automation pulls the latest data from a company’s CRM, product feeds, customer demographics and more to automatically generate email variations from a single HTML tag, transforming how marketers create 1-to-1, individualized subscriber experiences. In short, this tool enables marketers to truly get the most out of their email programs.

What is dynamic content automation?

Dynamic content automation — sometimes called “adaptive,” “smart” or “real-time content” — allows marketing teams to use a combination of data and customer segmentation to dictate what specific, personalized content to display for individual subscribers.

Using HTML tags, email marketers can apply the most up-to-date data to personalize content for each subscriber based on:

  • Past purchase behaviors
  • Popular items
  • Similar content
  • Products viewed by similar shoppers
  • The most-viewed products or content by all visitors
  • Top category, top in category, or top purchased products and services
  • Products frequently purchased together

With dynamic content automation, marketers can automatically highlight content, products and services that resonate with similar audiences in real-time, supercharging the subscriber experience, increasing conversions and impacting revenue.

This strategy uses two different types of dynamic content: Variable and content insertion. Variables often include more basic personalization, showing different versions of the same variable for each subscriber. It might use a “first name” or “company name” field in an email, for example.

Content insertion, on the other hand, is more powerful. It allows marketers to insert sections of content, either text or images, based on subscriber data. They can create multilingual versions of emails — and swap content or images according to a subscriber’s preferred location or language. Any known data about a certain segment of subscribers, for example, age, gender, location, other demographics or interests, can also inform the content in a message. If a customer fills a cart but doesn’t check out, these emails work for abandoned cart reminders.

Another possibility? Offering proactive product suggestions based on previous purchases.

Regardless of what type of dynamic content you choose, the content and images you send via email can be informed by a wealth of data, like subscribers’ loyalty program status, preference center data, previous interactions or other account information. Other options include using geolocation targeting based on CRM data — like fast food or convenience stores closest to the zip code in an account profile — or if/then rules based on CRM or CDP data — like currency indicators based on profile location or language data.

Content automation challenges

Using dynamic content automation is not without its challenges, however. It isn’t always easy to create or update content without paying for a professional service if a company lacks the right technical expertise. 

Another challenge? The risk of brand damage, loss of subscribers, or missed ROI when emails contain personalization or content errors, which may leave subscribers concerned the brand doesn’t know or value them. Broken links in content variations can result in frustrated subscribers and lost business. 

While customizing content based on demographic identifiers can create great experiences that truly resonate, when brands get it wrong — like suggesting a Boston-based activity to someone who lives in Philadelphia — the email won’t produce the desired results.

The same goes for recommending products based on past purchases. It’s a great way for brands to boost revenue by solving subscriber needs — or making recommendations subscribers didn’t initially consider, but broken content holds zero value and can result in low conversion rates or, worse, unsubscribes.

Dynamic content is an incredible tool for creating unique, personalized email experiences, but it is not easy, and effectively adopting it can pose a whole other set of challenges. It is time-consuming to manually create and test many personalized versions of an email without automation. Without data integration like a CRM, it is hard to keep product, inventory, content feeds updated. 

Because automated content often requires a lot of technical skill, companies may need to outsource or have dedicated internal development resources. Outsourcing dynamic content, however, can reduce control or visibility into how the process works, may require significant hand-holding, and creates potential testing roadblocks before launching a campaign.

Best practices for dynamic content

When done well, dynamic content automation enables marketers to execute strong, personalized email campaigns driving engagement and conversions at scale. Keep the following best practices in mind as you develop your content strategy.

  • Define and prioritize your marketing goals and metrics.  
  • Ask questions to determine whether your email messaging resonates with your target audience. For example, does your content build upon itself? Have you engaged recipients with an authentic interest in that content? Are you tracking open, click and unsubscribe rates?
  • Leverage cross-channel user data, geotargeting, demographics, psychographics, and other behavioral cues like life cycle and buying stages to hone the personalization.

Dynamic content can drive personalized and data-driven recommendations — think Netflix and Amazon’s “collaborative filtering” approach. Your emails can include call-to-action (CTA) buttons that streamline the buyer journeys from initial contact to conversion. Different CTAs can represent each stage in a sales funnel. Previous interactions — and data from CRM — can inform other dynamic CTAs, like customer surveys, customer feedback, a contact database, or market research and segmentation. 

Since content works best with accurate data, audit and cleanse your customer data regularly. Ask subscribers to update email preferences, too. Furthermore, do not make the mistake of overwhelming your subscribers with multiple dynamic content features all at once. Instead, opt for a more restrained approach, focusing on the content that would benefit the most from personalization based on the customer segment. 

For example, if you use dynamic content automation in your welcome emails, you could customize the content based on where a customer subscribed. If someone subscribed via a specific page on your website, the email could include content about that product. If they subscribed after attending your webinar — or meeting you at a trade show — the welcome email could include a snippet from the presentation or show.

Putting your best foot forward — through email

The future of email must include personalization. Dynamic content automation solutions empower email marketers to efficiently build, test, collaborate on, and analyze high volumes of emails. In today’s increasingly connected — and digital — world, customers expect to engage with brands anytime, anywhere. 

The wealth of data available to help marketers predict how their customers may respond across multiple scenarios has become even more complex. So is the challenge of giving subscribers what they want even before they realize they want it.  

For example, mobiles.co.uk was losing revenue from abandoned carts. The company embedded AI-powered recommendations into Salescycle cart abandoned emails. Customers received two emails in the basket abandonment series to encourage them to check out or continue their shopping experience. Emails also included product recommendations displaying products similar to the abandoned product. 

Results showed a 68% increase in average order value, 30% increase in conversion rate and a 124% increase in conversion value. Adding live, in-stock, and relevant product recommendations significantly increased value for mobiles.co.uk’s cart recovery program. 

Generate more business from emails

To increase campaign engagement and improve customer experiences, companies must move beyond basic segmentation to achieve true personalization at scale. Delivering relevant content to each subscriber, however, breaks through the noise to shine in the inbox. Connecting directly with first-party data not only respects your customers’ privacy preferences but also delivers the individualized email experiences they crave and improves campaign results.

Ultimately, dynamic content automation empowers teams to improve their email marketing performance and strategy without spending valuable time on manual tasks or committing costly errors. Creating individualized experiences fosters customer loyalty and drives sustainable revenue outcomes.

Cynthia Price is the senior vice president of marketing at Litmus.

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