Email Personalization and Dynamic Content: Email Marketing’s Secret Weapon

Email personalization has come a long way.


Remember the first time you saw a dynamic email using your name?

dynamic content name example email personalization

It was kind of creepy but kind of cool all at once.

But now it seems that’s all the email personalization you see.

Is your inbox overflowing with irrelevant emails addressed to [YOUR NAME HERE]?

If so, that means you’re probably receiving email marketing messages from people who don’t have an email personalization strategy.

Personalized email marketing campaigns are a huge factor in the marketing world.

firestone email personalization example

Some seem to think that the more personal the email, the more successful the campaign.

This may be true in some cases, but the bottom line is that the level of email personalization must be appropriate.

It is the appropriateness that determines the success, not necessarily the personalization itself.

The simplest way to personalize an email is to use a person’s name in either the subject line or the greeting.

But personalizing an email is much more than mentioning a recipient’s name, and smart marketers are becoming better at personalization strategies every day.

So if you haven’t reviewed dynamic email techniques, now might be a good time to do that.

Let’s explore ways email personalization name-dropping can be used properly, as well as scenarios where it should be avoided.

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Benefits to personalized email campaigns

Personalized email campaigns and advertising go hand in hand.

By utilizing dynamic content, you build a better and lasting email relationship with your customers.

Contrary to older ways of sitting all day long entering your customer’s name manually into the email list, there are tools to automate this process.

All you need to do is add a form in your website and let visitors enter their name, email and any other personal information.

When you send a dynamic email, you include one variable out of this information and your subscribers get personalized emails.

email personalization chart

Here are the top 2 benefits of email personalization:

Increases conversion rates: Dynamic content is especially important in email marketing because it helps in building a long-standing relationship with your customers. When you greet your subscriber with an air of familiarity they become more comfortable in reading the information you sent them.

Increases authenticity: Personalized email campaigns also gives you the benefit of being authentic and hence your email is not regarded as spam.  Personalization increases the chances of your email landing in the prospect’s inbox and that it will get opened.

All said and done, use personal information about your subscribers when they are willing to give it to you.

If they trust you enough to impart their personal information, you need to ensure that you do not abuse that trust. 

dynamic content example stubhub

The key is to ensure relevant and creative content in your emails.

If you keep sending one sales pitch after the other, your subscribers are bound to ignore you after some time.

How does dynamic content work?

Adding dynamic content to your next email marketing campaign is pretty straight forward.

It comes down to deciding what different versions of your email content you want to show you target audience.

Is it different products?

Is it different offers based on location?

Is it different information based on the actions certain contacts have taken?

dynamic content merge tag example

Once you nail these down, you’ll simply create the different pieces of content…

…add the dynamic content code to your email, and…


Depending on the tags and dynamic content you created each contact will have a unique email personalization experience.

Dynamic email content tags to use

While some of these may not apply to your specific business, these are just some examples of dynamic content you can use in your emails.

Personal Information

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Full Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Mobile Phone Number
  • City
  • State
  • Country
  • Job Title

Company Information

  • Company Name
  • Industry Name
  • Business Type (B2B, B2C, university, nonprofit, retail, etc.)
  • Company Size/Number of Employees
  • Company Website URL
  • Annual Revenue
  • Competitor URL


  • First Visit
  • Most Recent Visit
  • Lead Source (website, referral, walk-in, PPC, etc.) 
  • Free Trial Date
  • Demo Request Date
  • Meeting Request Date
  • First Conversion Date
  • Most Recent Conversion Date
  • Recent Email Open
  • Recent Email Click
  • Last Item Purchased
  • Assigned Sales Rep
  • Assigned Support Rep

Industry/Business Specific

As you can see, the possibilities are endless.

This gives you an idea of just how powerful dynamic content can be for email personalization.

Now, let’s check out some amazing examples:

Some email personalization examples using dynamic content

All right, so let’s show off some email examples from companies taking personalization up a notch.

Ever seen a Broadway show in New York City?

You may have purchased your tickets through a company called Telecharge.

When a customer buys tickets for a Broadway performance, Telecharge sends them an incredibly personalized email a few days before the show.

Here’s an example email one customer would receive prior to their event:

email personalization example telecharge

Looks like a typical canned email before any performance, right?

Not so fast…

Take a look when we highlight all of the dynamic content that is personalized to the customer:

email personalization example telecharge showcase dynamic content

That’s a ton of email personalization!

Let’s take a look at each section…

First, Telecharge inserts event specifics about the performance the customer is attending.

email personalization example telecharge show title

Since the customer is attending Phantom of the Opera, they see a specific offer to receive a souvenir cup if they purchase a drink.

email personalization example telecharge get a free cup

The customer is also notified the Majestic Theater, where the performance will take place, has complimentary Wi-Fi.

email personalization example telecharge wifi

If the theater does not have Wi-Fi, Telecharge removes this content and replaces it with something else.

Should the customer need the assistance of closed captioning or language services, they can learn more about those services specifically at the Majestic Theater.

email personalization example telecharge services

If the customer is from out of town and needs directions to the theater, Telecharge dynamically pulls in a map for whichever venue their show is performing at.

email personalization example telecharge map

Finally, the customer gets an exclusive piece of content specific to the theater they are attending.

email personalization example telecharge special

That’s six pieces of dynamic email content Telecharge pulls into these messages.

Each is personalized to the customer based on the performance they purchased to see.

There’s content for each individual production, each individual theater, and each night the production takes place.

That is one personalized email using data collected by the customer from Telecharge’s CRM.

Here’s another personalized email campaign example…

…this one is from the Indianapolis Zoo.

The Indianapolis Zoo sends out monthly email newsletters to a list that consists of zoo members, those that have made donations to the zoo, and those that have just agreed to be on their mailing list.

Here’s an example newsletter they recently sent out:

email personalization example indy zoo

Just because you’re sending a monthly newsletter doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate personalization.

They dynamically insert content that displays the email recipient’s membership information.

Name, membership level, the status of their membership, and expiration date.

email personalization example indy zoo highlighted dynamic content

Plus there’s another layer of personalization in this example…

You’ll note the family’s membership is set to expire soon.

The Indianapolis Zoo uses this data point to insert a unique call-to-action below their membership information asking them to renew their membership.

If their membership isn’t up for renewal yet, the zoo displays a different piece of content.

Something like a donation request or a coupon for their gift shop.

How’s that for dynamic content?

So you can see there are countless ways to turn your emails more personalized to your contacts and subscribers.

Now let’s get down to personalizing your emails…

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Strengthen your dynamic email techniques

Personalized email campaigns make your customer feel special and create the impression their well-being is utmost in your mind.

When done effectively, email personalization can build a strong bond between you and your customers and goes a long way in retaining brand loyalty.

However, poorly personalized email can quickly turn away your customers.

Here are a few tips with which you can effectively personalize your email:

Have a good salutation/opening message: Salutation makes or breaks an email. Your greeting should set the tone of your message. It should reflect your happiness in having your reader as your customer and how much you look forward to retaining their relationship.

Reference to an earlier transaction: Another good technique for personalization is including a reference to a purchase or a request for information about your product or services your customer made earlier. This will make your customer feel you know him very well. While doing so, also include images and multimedia corresponding to his earlier purchases to increase interest.

Location: Location based email is another way to personalize your message. Based on your reader’s location, send emails to help with purchasing products and services locally available.

dynamic content based on location

Personalize in groups: When you know your reader is part of a group or organization, you can send personalized emails targeting the group. But sending offers to groups will only be relevant only if the information you send is beneficial to everyone in the group.

Do not get too personal: You need to draw a dynamic email line in the sand. No reader likes you to get over-familiar with them. You may use the personal information you have only in a reasonably acceptable level. References to financial status or health can make your reader uncomfortable.

Personalization means nothing but being human and responsive to your reader’s needs.

By effectively targeting those needs, you retain your customers and build a lasting relationship with them.

Dynamic content strategy factors that matter

Every consumer has individual preferences, and the key to successfully personalizing marketing messages is understanding what those preferences are.

dynamic content email personalization

In order to do that, you may have to dig a little deeper to discover more about:

  • Personas: Are you able to group your subscribers by persona? If you don’t have personas, get to work creating some. Personas are detailed profiles of groups of customers or prospects that share characteristics — such as single parents in the suburbs, or office managers at mid-sized companies. Anytime you’re able to sort new subscribers into a persona category, you’ve already got a good idea of what type of messaging is likely to engage them.
  • Relevance: Personas help you decide which messages are relevant for certain subscribers. For example, you can segment your mailing list in a way that you send messages about certain sales and promotions only to those people who would be most interested.
  • Channels: Someone that’s following you on Twitter or Instagram or has signed up to receive SMS messages may be more likely to respond to short messages, rather than a longer email. You may need to experiment with how people respond to messages across your various channels, for example, measuring click-through rates on SMS promotional messages.
  • Brand relationship: A new subscriber may be more apt to respond to welcome offers and discounts, whereas someone who’s been a subscriber for years may be more interested in reading about what your company is doing, such as sustainability efforts or new brand launches.

When email personalization backfires

On the other hand, there are definitely times when using a person’s name is unsuitable for your message.

If you’re sending out an email to all of your subscribers, creating a dynamic email may not be necessary.

Many email marketers these days are afraid of using a generic greeting, but sometimes these are the best solution.

You don’t want to seem like you’re nagging your customers, and you also don’t want to seem creepy.

Take on email personalization with small bites to start.

Simply stating the purpose of the email in the subject and greeting instead of trying to make it personal is often a great way to improve deliverability.

The customer will be informed of your products and services, but won’t feel as though they’re being specifically bothered.

Figuring out the best greeting for you is an important step.

“Dear Valued Customer” and “Hey there!” can give the message a very different impression right off the bat, so make sure it is appropriate and fits the feel of your company.

A more specific name drop no-no would be when the product or service being promoted is one that the customer wouldn’t want their friends to know about.

For example, a hair growth treatment or an acne cream.

Someone may not enjoy being reminded of these things, so using a name could be awkward for them. In these cases, keep those generic greetings going.

Getting the data necessary for email personalization

Good data is what drives effective personalization.

By looking at consumer behavior online, you can learn a lot about how to craft relevant marketing messages.

Sometimes, customers abandon their online shopping carts because of a simple distraction.

Or maybe they placed an item in their cart just so they could find it again easily when they return to a website.

If cart abandonment is a pain point for you, send a gentle reminder to customers that they have an item in their cart.

abandoned cart email examples levis

Also, include the email with an image of the item.

Another dynamic email tactic is sending customers a list of products aligning with their preferences.

For example, if you look at certain types of products on, you may get an email from Amazon showing you similar products.

It’s a good way of saying, “Hey, we remember you and your preferences.”

Your audience has different needs and preferences, based on where they live.

So, for example, a shoe company with a global reach may be promoting a December winter boot sale to its U.S. audience.

But that promotion may not go over well in Australia, where December is sweltering hot.

Using customer demographic data, you can begin geo-targeting your customers creating segments, delivering emails relevant to where they are.

You could let customers know about a sale at your brick-and-mortar location nearest to them.

Even better, you can show customers you’re paying attention to what’s happening where they are.

Offering a discount on boots for people in the path of a winter storm could warm up a purchase.

Not sure what metrics to measure?

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