How to Add and Test Dynamic Open-Time Content to Your Emails

Evergage Blog

Ideas and Strategies for Real-Time Personalization
How to Add and Test Dynamic Open-Time Content to Your Emails

March 7, 2017 by

At Evergage, we’re doing some pretty amazing things – dare I say magical – with email. Just by inserting a few lines of HTML code from Evergage into an email campaign, marketers can transform an otherwise simple email to one that’s truly personalized for each and every recipient.

In my last post on the Evergage blog, I wrote about how to send one-to-one product recommendations in emails that update automatically at open time. These real-time updates allow marketers to provide the most relevant recommendations that reflect any price changes, out-of-stock inventory, and the latest behaviors or preferences of their shoppers.

In this post, I want to illustrate how dynamic open-time emails can include personalized aspects that go beyond traditional product recommendations with a concept we call “promotions.”

What are promotions?

A “promotion,” in Evergage, is any static image – such as a banner, a thumbnail, etc. – you may include in an email that links to a specific page on your website. Each promotion can direct people to a different location on your site, so you can use them to guide people to different areas (or different promotions can exit to the same location, and you can A/B test which image garners a higher clickthrough rate). For example, you could include a promotion announcing a sale in a particular category on your website by featuring an image specific to that category page (as in the example below directing email recipients to the retailer’s travel category page).  

dynamic open-time emails

You could also feature an image directing recipients to shop your women’s clothing section or guide them to your clearance section. Note that these examples are different from product recommendations, because they are single, static images that are not designed to send shoppers to specific product detail pages (PDPs). When marketers leverage this type of personalization in their emails, they often need to build multiple campaigns to send to different lists.

With Evergage you can create one email campaign that shows different content to recipients. Let’s walk through an example.

Many emails, one campaign

Let’s say that you are a clothing retailer and you want to send an email with product recommendations relevant to each individual, but you also want to include an image that links recipients to their preferred gender category page (either men’s or women’s clothing).

Step 1: Build Your Item Templates and Promotions

Your first step is to build your email template and design a few promotional images. Note that even though we’ll be creating multiple promotions and recommendations recipes, this will all boil down to one snippet of HTML code that goes into a single email campaign. There’s no need to create and maintain different recipient lists in your ESP (email service provider). You will just send this campaign to your entire distribution list and Evergage handles the rest.

Step 2: Create Your Email Campaign

To present different promotions to different groups of users, you’ll want to create a multi-experience, rule-based campaign within Evergage. For this example, we’ll use the following rule structure:

dynamic open-time emails

Male and female-affined users will see an experience tailored to them, and if, for some reason, a user does not fall into one of those segments (perhaps their visit history is too limited), that user will see a generic default experience. Each experience will contain both a “promotion” content block and a “recommendations” content block. Here’s how our campaign looks when laid out in the campaign editor:

dynamic open-time emails

Step 3: Test

Once the email campaign is set up, the images are designed, and the rules and algorithms are created, you should test the email to ensure the personalization is working and the email renders for different devices and screen layouts. You can use the Simulate button in the campaign editor to preview what each dynamic block will look like for specific users in your dataset. Ensuring your email layout looks great on a wide range of email clients and devices is as much an art as it is science, so it helps to also run your layout through an email testing platform. To do this, click Show HTML inside the simulator window to obtain the HTML code that drives the dynamic blocks for a particular user. You can then apply your usual bag of styling tricks in your testing platform of choice.

Step 4: Publish the Campaign and Send!

After completing the testing phase, you’re ready to publish your campaign and send out the emails! Once you publish the campaign, the campaign editor will provide a block of HTML for each dynamic block in your campaign. These HTML blocks can be copied into your email’s layout wherever you think they’ll look great. Don’t be afraid to apply styling to these blocks as needed to resolve rendering differences between different email clients and devices. Once you send this campaign out to your users, a recipient with an affinity for the women’s category would see something like this (with the promotion at the top and recommendations at the bottom):

dynamic open-time emails

Meanwhile, a recipient with an affinity for the men’s category may see something like this:

dynamic open-time emails

And, of course, these images will update at open time to ensure that they reflect the most up-to-date, relevant recommendations and promotion. If a product goes out of stock, it’s automatically replaced with a different recommendation. If a visitor who has primarily shopped women’s clothing begins to shop men’s clothing, the men’s promotion can be displayed to that recipient instead.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve ever built an email campaign – I’ve built plenty in my career – what I’ve described has ginormous implications. No longer do you need to build six different campaigns to target six segments of customers. Evergage does the heavy and tedious lifting for you – just like magic! And it allows you to test what your emails will look like for different individuals to allow you to gut-check the personalization you’ve put in place. The last thing you want is to send a personalized email that doesn’t make sense to the recipient and realize too late that you set up your campaign incorrectly.

To learn more about the value of emails that update at open time, read the blog post “The Importance of Email Open Times in Email Marketing.” And to discover how Evergage can help improve your personalized email campaigns, request a demo today.

Share This