How to use dynamic email content for lead generation

Not long ago, simply adding a reader's name to an email made it more compelling. 

This isn’t so anymore.

Today, marketers look to dynamic email marketing to create a genuine connection with their audience. Marketers know they need to create content that stands out in crowded inboxes in an authentic way. 

So what is dynamic content? How does it work, and why is it so effective? Keep reading to answer those questions – and learn how you can use this content to generate leads.

What is dynamic content – and how does it work?

Dynamic email marketing is quickly becoming the new normal among marketers. Dynamic content is a form of email marketing that uses several personalization techniques to make an email more appealing to a brand's target audience. 

However, it's important to point out that dynamic email marketing is more than simple personalization – it's hyper-personalization in action.

Dynamic content is actually HTML coding within your email template that changes based on specific settings and who you’re sending it to. A prime example: Using a tag that inserts the first name of each reader. But dynamic content has come a long way – and now, many email service providers allow you to customize your HTML settings to include a variety of tags. You can easily customize emails according to:

  • A reader's location

  • A reader's gender

  • The browser the email is being opened on

  • The user's device

  • Other user data/behaviors 

When designing your dynamic email content, you'll simply define your audience by the appropriate tags. In the example below, Adidas used their audience's gender.


Source: Campaign Monitor

Here's what that email looks like in action. One audience receives the Rita Ora version, and one audience gets the other version with Pharrell Williams.


Source: Pinterest

How to create dynamic email content

Creating dynamic email content involves several steps.

Step 1: Gather reader information

First, gather what reader information you can – although remember to ask for the most relevant user information only. 

In most cases, someone’s first name and email address is appropriate. This can be grabbed through sign-up forms, such as this example from Giordano's.


Source: Giordano's

The signup form asks for the following simple and relevant information: 

  • First and last name

  • Email address

  • Birthday

  • Zip code

  • Favorite location

For a restaurant, this information is key to sending personalized emails. However, other industries might need different information. 

Here's another example of a signup form from Eastern Illinois University (EIU). 


Source: Eastern Illinois University

EIU’s form is basic. They ask for the individual's:

  • Name

  • Telephone number, which is an optional field

  • Email 

On first contact, only ask for what you need from them. As time goes on, you can collect other relevant data and create even better dynamic content.

In the example below, you’ll see DoorDash keeps their customer preference center simple.


Source: DoorDash

DoorDash will use an individual’s favorite restaurant, listed under the “Loyalty Programs” section, to send dynamic content.

Step 2: Segmenting your email list

Segmenting helps break down massive email lists into smaller, more relevant groupings. You will then use these groups to create tags for your dynamic content. Don't be afraid to hyper segment your email marketing list into very niche categories. These can include:

  • Gender

  • Location

  • Age

  • Purchase history

  • Spending amount

  • Type of products bought

  • Web pages browsed 


Source: Emma

Step 3: Design your email with the right HTML tags

Since dynamic email content is created with various HTML tags, you’ll likely need some knowledge in coding – unless your email service provider has a drag and drop editor editor like the one provided to all Emma clients. 

To define dynamic content properly, you’ll want to make yourself somewhat familiar with your HTML tags, like these:

  • "if/end if" – tells your email to display certain information depending on what you include between the two. This content can be the location of certain readers, for example.

  • "elif/end if" – shows alternative information for those who don’t fit the first tag. For example, if you’re creating content for Chicago, but a reader falls under Cook County (county in which Chicago’s located), then the "elif/end if" will show to anyone in the vicinity of Cook County. 

  • "else/end if" – gives you a "final" option for those who don't fall into the first two defined tags. Say a subscriber lives in Illinois, just not Cook County, then they can still receive relevant information should you choose to include it. 

Here are a few more helpful tags that you'll want to be familiar with:


Source: Emma

Using dynamic email marketing for lead generation

When used correctly, dynamic email content is a powerful tool for lead generation. 

Small business marketers ranked new customer acquisition as their biggest challenge. Lead generation can be tricky, especially if someone signed up for your newsletter simply for a special offer. 

However, once they’re signed up for your emails, your dynamic email marketing can help convert them from an inactive subscriber to a potential new customer. Because research shows that approximately 72% of consumers will engage with personalized messaging. 

Take this example from the athletic brand ASICS.


Source: Really Good Emails

In this example, a subscriber had browsed the ASICS website and didn't follow through with their purchase. So, ASICS sent this person an abandoned cart email to remind them of their items. Even better, they include product recommendations to help further intrigue the customer. 

This is a vital tool because studies have shown that 56% of online shoppers say they are more likely to return to a website that recommends various products to them. 

Here's another example of a product recommendation from fitness brand Nike.


Source: Milled

This inventory update email had a product the subscriber was previously interested in. Nike also included a handful of relevant product recommendations that would go well with the shoe – encouraging the reader to make an additional purchase. 

Another way to create dynamic content is by utilizing someone’s recent purchases to formulate a list of recommendations. OpenTable did this in the following example. 


Source: Really Good Emails

By tracking the booking history of their clients, OpenTable is able to make a variety of restaurant recommendations – they’ve taken into consideration venue type, location, and even budget. 

This shows your readers that you aren't simply looking to make a sale. Instead, you’re showing that you pay careful attention to their particular needs, interests, and preferences – making them more likely to use your services again.

Wrap up

Once you've learned how to use dynamic email marketing to your advantage, it’s a fantastic tool. When creating dynamic content, remember these three steps:

  • Collect as much relevant subscriber data as you can

  • Segment your email list into various smaller lists based on carefully defined criteria

  • Be familiar with HTML tags to create the most personal content possible

Now that your emails are personalized, are you confident you’re striking the right tone with readers (especially right now)? Here’s how you can manage challenging messages in a challenging time.

About the Author

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. With our

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