Ask an expert: Dynamic content

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We're so excited to introduce you to dynamic content! We know that personalized messages significantly outperform broadcast messages, and dynamic content takes that personalization to a new level in your Emma account. We want to hear from you about where you see this hot topic taking your marketing.

Join Rachel Rogers (communications strategist), Cale Mooth (product owner of dynamic content, lightbox forms and email templates) and Matt Thackston (product owner of Emma integrations) on Tuesday, June 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central to talk dynamic content. Click the Follow button at the top-right to receive an email notification when we begin and when a new question is asked/answered. We'll talk about Emma's tools and integrations, predictive content, real-time social feeds (using Avari!) and what your plans are for making your marketing more flexible and personal than ever before.

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Katie Lewis, Official Rep

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Posted 3 years ago

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Katie Lewis, Official Rep

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And we're live! Let's get the conversation going. I'll start: I'm curious to hear how Emma users are already collecting their contacts' information to personalize emails outside of the ol' "Dear First Name."
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Oh, and one question asked in our livecast was how many custom data fields are available to use, and you can create up to 100. These fields and the data they hold are so powerful, so I recommend spending some time thinking about what you wish you knew about your contacts and then including those fields on your signup form.
(Edited)
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Katie Lewis, Official Rep

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Aaaaand I shouldn't let it go without saying: We do not recommend adding 100 fields to your signup form. :) The above is only to let you know that you aren't limited to, say, five fields of data to collect. Only ask information you want to know about and use for your contacts so you don't drive 'em away from your form before you even get to add them to your list!
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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It is imperative that you strike a balance in how much info you ask for. IMHO, the more fields you ask the user to fill in, the more likely they are to abandon your form and capture nothing.

You've absolutely got to ask for only the minimum info you need to work with. If the user subscribes, you've always got another opportunity to ask for a little more.
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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Hi, Katie. As we've talked about before, we have 12 locations in 8 states so I have a pulldown list in my lightbox form with each of the 12 locations. I have not found a way to make the pulldown list a required field, but most users make a selection from the list. I plan to use that to target each email with a direct link to the landing page for their closest school. If I do not have that user info, I'll embed a link to a landing pages that describes our 12 locations.
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This is a great example, Ted! What I like about the new dynamic content feature is that you can expand on this idea to personalize the emails even further. For instance, instead of inserting a link, you could use photos of each location and link those photos to the proper location. You could provide directions to each location based on their selection. 
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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Got it. So let me ask if there is any way to insert a google map into an emma email? probably not, but maybe I can do a screen grab of a map for each location and use the image to link to a google map.
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Matt T., Official Rep

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Your instinct is right, Ted. We don't have a way to insert a Google Map right now, so a screenshot would be the way to go. Our Eventbrite integration actually pulls in the map provided by Eventbrite, so this is something we could possibly add in the future. Good suggestion!
(Edited)
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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Matt, my digital marketing efforts are all about lead generation. My Emma emails are sent to people who have already expressed an interest in us and given us their email address. So my email campaigns give me a 2nd bite at the apple.

Besides, with the tidal wave of smartphone usage, the internet is becoming more and more about local search. The more I can personalize the message I send out to my recipients, the better conversion response I should get. 
(Edited)
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Belmont Athletics

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If the only thing we've tracked in our MyEmma email database is emails and names, can we even do anything with dynamic content?
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Rachel Rogers, Communications Strategist

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Hey there! Anyone can use dynamic content, yet it's unlikely you'll achieve much if you tried tailoring your content using just email address and names. What's exciting about this to me is that you've got a clean slate to start collecting (or just syncing over if you already have it) the types of data that matter in your world.

I suggest thinking about what your goal is. Do you want to send to sophomore soccer players only? Is practice rescheduled for female basketball players? Work backwards from there to figure out what data you'll want to start collecting. Thinking about what your goals might be as a university + athletics department, my initial feeling is you'll want to start collecting your contacts' sport, graduation year and sex. Create custom fields, and add 'em to your signup forms.

In my world (the world of communicating with you fine folks) I store things like account type, industry, account activation date (so I can say "Happy Emmaversary!"), and location – just like Ted. :) 
(Edited)
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We had some really cool brands chatting with us during yesterday's livecast. The Nashville Ballet shared that they'll use dynamic content to differentiate between single ticket buyers and season ticket buyers, tailoring their images and messages based on the recipient. Love that idea! It's a great example of doing a minimal amount of work for the maximum payoff for your audience. They'll never need to know you only had to create one email. :)
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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I really liked the idea of combining Automation + Dynamic Content Insertion. I believe it might have been a car dealer that tied a welcome email series with intel on which car the customer was interested in. Then dynamically inserting a photo of their car choice into the welcome email. Mind blown.
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:)
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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ROFLMAO
I didn't realize this was show-and-tell ... I would have brought my slide deck ...
(Edited)
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Marion

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We are a culinary school with two student-operated restaurants. We have been sending our student newsletters to the 800+ email addresses/names on our restaurant list. Does this mean that we could continue doing that but just  change how the recipient is addressed?
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Cale Mooth, Product Owner

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Hi Marion! It sounds like you're currently using personalization tags to address your students. You can definitely keep using personalization tags -- nothing's changing there! -- but you could use dynamic content in your email so that you're creating one email but maybe the top photo changes based on the recipient. That way, students at Restaurant A see a photo of their restaurant, and students at Restaurant B see a photo of their restaurant.
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Marion

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No - all we use at this time is "Dear Students." The college gives us the student email addresses of currently enrolled students. The restaurant lists come from Open Table - i.e bookings made on Open Table. 
Can you refresh me on the link on how to change the photos at the top, please.
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Cale Mooth, Product Owner

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Marion, you can find all of the dynamic content code options as well as plenty of examples here in this document. That should give you a good idea of what's possible with this new feature.
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Marion

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If so, where is the best information for how to do it. I can't write code.
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Rachel Rogers, Communications Strategist

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Hey, Marion! The great thing is, you don't need to be able to write code! Dynamic Content is accessible even to non-programmers, so even folks like you and me who build our mailings with the Drag and Drop editor have full access to it. You can simply copy and paste the code provided in the Resource Center, which Cale posted the link to above!
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Tracy Goldenberg

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Can you use calendar dates to send certain messages to certain people? For example, someone who signed up between 1/1/2015 and 2/28/2015 would get one message, and someone who signed up between 3/1/2015 and 5/31/2015 would get another.
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Matt T., Official Rep

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Tracy, that's a great question. Our dynamic content logic won't currently evaluate dates, so there's not a way to do exactly what you're asking. Can you give us a little more detail about what you're sending and what you're trying to accomplish? Maybe we can find another way to solve the problem. 
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Tracy Goldenberg

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Yea that was a bad example.  We have a paid membership level in addition to our regular readers. The membership expires after a year unless a user renews. Since members are always joining and expiring,  each time I want to send an email to JUST active members, I have to sort my list by expiration date and then import just the active members into Emma. This takes a little extra work and I end up with a ton of audience groups that are only able to be used once. 

Instead of having to export my active members list and import it into emma each time I want to send an email specifically to current members, I'd love to be able to say, "Any users who's expiration date is after X/X/XX will get this exclusive content, and everyone else will get our normal content."
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Rachel Rogers, Communications Strategist

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I obsess over having a clean Audience section, so I totally get the desire to avoid creating group after group. I have two ideas for you. First, if you have a CRM of some kind, is there some sort of "active" field that you could sync or import into Emma? If you have a field that designates that the member is either active or inactive, you've got the keys to a killer use case for Dynamic Content.

If that's not an option for you (if you don't have a CRM or another data source with that handy "active" field), Dynamic Content wouldn't work for you at this time in this particular case. I’m happy to say, though, that you still have the world of segmentation open to you! You can create segments based off of dates that are dynamic and send to those segments - thus avoiding mass group creation. I posted something a few months ago that goes over using groups vs. imports vs. segments, and I’d bet that implementing that change could really clear out the clutter. :)
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I find myself doing the same thing Tracy is doing, albeit for a different reason. I do not have paid and unpaid content audiences like she does, but I keep my master database in Filemaker Pro. I do a search for the recipients within a certain date range and export that list as an Excel file, then import into Emma as a new group named to correspond to a date (ex. 20150630). 

When I import that file as a new group, it adds new records to Emma without disturbing any existing records (except that it adds existing records into my new group).

It is a crude but workable way for me to target my audience by when they first asked for information.

It would be such a powerful tool if I could search and sort audience members by the date they joined from inside Emma audience manager. I can see the "Member since" date at the top of each contact record, but it does not seem to be a field that I can use to search and sort.

Too bad...
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Gold Bond Inc. and The Wise Investor Group both asked during our livecast if there's a way to make the from address dynamic, too. An example would be sending one email and having each recipient's sales rep show as the sender. That isn't possible right now, but it would be majorly cool. :) I shared that idea with our Product Team earlier this year, and add your use case here, if you're interested!
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I can see an application for us to display the sender ID as TDI Murfreesboro or TDI Indianapolis, triggering that off the Closest Location field in my user record. another good idea if you can make it work.
(Edited)
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During yesterday's livecast, FIT4MOM asked how to know which of the dynamic content operators to use when, and I'll say as a non-coder myself, my first impression when I was writing the Resource Center documentation was, "Wait. What now?" :) But it totally helped when I plotted out visually what I wanted my recipients to see.

For example, say you're organizing a nationwide event where all of your groups -- San Francisco, Chicago, Buffalo, wherever -- are going to meet up locally. You want each recipient to see the location and time of their own meetup. So you want:

If you live in San Francisco, see this info:
XYZ
If you live in Chicago, see this info:
ABC
If you live in Buffalo, see this info:
JKL

Using dynamic content, that looks like this:

[% if member:city == "San Francisco" %]
Time and location of San Francisco meetup goes here
[% elif member:city == "Chicago" %]
Time and location of Chicago meetup goes here
[% elif member:city == "Buffalo" %]
Time and location of Buffalo meetup goes here
[% endif %]

I hope that helps!
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Riverdale School District asked an awesome question that I bet everyone has: How can you preview each dynamic version of your email? To do this, we suggest creating contacts that fit the criteria of each set of recipients. You can do this easily by adding a + sign to your email address. Emma sees sally+freshman@example.com, sally+sophomore@example.com, sally+junior@example.com and sally+senior@example.com as separate individuals, yet all of those emails will deliver to sally@example.com's email inbox for you to view each grade-level's version.
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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I've been having a conversation offline with Hana this morning about this very thing. I believe a test group in Emma is currently limited to 10 recipients, but I will have 12 (+1 default) possible values when I use my closest location field to trigger location-based dynamic content. It would be so nice if the test groups could be a little bigger to accommodate the need for testing all my dynamic content options. Please and thank you in advance.
(Edited)
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Katie Lewis, Official Rep

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I hear ya! It doesn't look like we've talked in Emma Community about having more than 10 individuals in a test group -- Are you up for creating a new conversation for us to talk through why that would be helpful, and I'll share it with Product?
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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Sure thing ... copy-and-paste works well for that sort of thing ... See the new topic here.
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Multnomah County Library asked during the livecast what happens if a contact has a checkbox marking interest in multiple options, say, both drum and guitar (those are the examples in the Resource Center). Dynamic content works best when contact field information is clearly defined, meaning there's one selection made. Because of this, we recommend using a field option like "Drop down menu" instead. I've added this info to our Resource Center page now, too, so it's clear. :) So glad you asked!
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Springtree Farms asked during the livecast where her images are pulled from. When you're using dynamic content for images and not text, you'll add that content in the same way: by simply dragging in an image placeholder and inserting an image from your computer, Emma image library, Facebook, Flickr or Bigstock:



You'll drop that image in between the boxes where you've added the dynamic content operators. There's a visual example at the bottom of our Resource Center page that helps to see images + the tags in action!
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Literacy How, Inc., asked during the livecast if it's possible to tailor the content/call to action paragraph. Definitely! You can use dynamic content anywhere in your mailing where you can drag and drop a content block.
(Edited)
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Colorvision asked how to make a custom graphic for each individual customer. I'd love to learn more about what your custom graphic would address, and whether your individuals have anything in common with one another. Maybe you want all women to see one image and all men to see another? Any way you could group them in a way to limit your image creations?

If you're up to here (I'm pointing at my ears) with work, and creating more images is the last thing you have time for, our Services Team can create them for you. Take a look at this info about our Content Element Design subscription!
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For every piece of information you collect on your contacts, there is a use for dynamic content. We've seen in this conversation some great examples, and we can't wait to see what you do with them. If you are a retail-focused organization, you may also want to look at our partner, Avari, who specializes in predictive product recommendations based on patterns they monitor in your online store. With a small snippet of code that you can paste into your emails, Avari can pull in product recommendations tailored to each customer in  your audience. We'd be happy to make the introduction to them if you're interested. 

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Katie Lewis, Official Rep

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There was so much to share that we ran a bit over time! Thanks to all of you for participating today. Such thoughtful questions and points, and it's great to be a part of a collective brainstorming session like this. It's what Emma Community is all about. :) We're here -- and excited -- to talk everything from big-picture strategy to basic how-tos, so know you aren't alone when you hit a stumbling block or want to bounce an idea off someone.

If you couldn't join us for yesterday's dynamic content livecast, you can watch it here at your leisure. We're also talking dynamic content in our blog, and Cale and Gillian are hosting additional training sessions if you have other questions! You can pick a date here.

Enjoy the rest of your week!