Designing emails with Dynamic Content

11 minute read

Imagine an email campaign that automatically adapts to display content according to the known interests of each of your subscribers. That’s Dynamic Content, and here’s how to do it using the responsive email editor.

Dynamic Content

Dynamic Content

Dynamic Content is an advanced personalisation technique which uses information held within each individual subscriber’s profile to automatically display content which is more closely aligned with their known interests or preferences. Dynamic Content has a wide range of applications – personalising menu preferences in the hospitality sector, clothing or other product interests in retail and home location in the events industry are just some examples.

  • Sector – display industry specific content to mixed sector audiences
  • Audience –  show different products and pricing to B2B/B2C readers
  • Gender – display women’s clothing to female subscribers
  • Location – only display items at the subscriber’s local store
  • Engagement – include vouchers depending on your subscribers’ loyalty points
  • Preference – display meat-free menus to your vegetarian diners
  • Behaviour – show the call to action which has been most successful with that subscriber in the past
Designing emails using ‘Components’

The responsive email editor uses ‘Components’ to create a campaign layout. Components are blocks of content which determine the overall structure of a campaign design.


The Component library includes simple single column components to multiple columns in fixed or variable widths. Once dragged into place they can be filled with text and graphics, or other content types.  Mixing and matching different components makes it simple to create a wide variety of campaign layouts.


Designing using Dynamic Content Components

Standard Components contain text or graphical content which is displayed in the same way to every subscriber. These are the building blocks of non-dynamic email campaigns.

Dynamic Content Components differ in that the included content behaves differently (for example visibility or priority of display), depending on the profile characteristics of each subscriber.

For example, a restaurant may which to advertise their latest menu in an email campaign, but may also wish to display only meat free options to their subscribers who are profiled as being vegetarian. In this scenario the standard Components of a generic email campaign would be replaced by Dynamic Content Components which contain the various campaign variations. When the campaign is scheduled each component is customised  to display appropriate content as controlled by that subscriber’s individual preferences.

Dynamic Content Components must be custom built using HTML/XML and the Dynamic Content code – the instructions which determine when and how they display their content. instructions as to when and how to display their content.


For any pre-defined logic they can be selected and used directly from the Component library in the same way as standard Components – select the component type, drag it into place in the campaign layout and then fill with text or images as required. The Dynamic Content Component will then behave according to its pre-defined logic.

In other respects Dynamic Content Components will act exactly as standard ones – for example the way they respond to mobile or desktop device types is the same.

For those who wish to change the logical behaviour of a pre-defined Component the underlying code is accessible and can be edited – custom Components have an edit option. A basic knowledge of HTML/XML and the ‘IF’ statement  will be required to do this. For non-coders the team are also able to custom design Dynamic Content Components to individual requirements.

How Dynamic Content works

In the following scenario a single campaign is created which contains 2 different areas of Dynamic Content, A and B. The campaign is sent to 4 different groups of subscribers, 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the displayed content is controlled using 2 different profile characteristics, A and B.

The table below shows the stored profile characteristics for each group. For profile characteristic A there are 3 possible options and for characteristic B there are 4 – each denoted by a different colour. To the right of this is a schematic of the campaign layout. Here the top single width and the central left-hand text use standard Components so are displayed in the same way to all subscribers.

Dynamic content control

The Dynamic Content sections are shown in dotted line. The centre and right-hand sections  of the middle row and the single width section at the bottom are the Dynamic Content Components which are associated with the profile characteristics A and B respectively.

In this case the Dynamic Content logic is to display a different version of these sections depending on the A/B profile characteristics of each recipient. On delivery each member of the subscriber groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 therefore receives campaigns denoted by the 4 diagrams below. The standard Components are displayed in the same way to every subscriber.

Dynamic content variations

Example: clothing retail with gender and geo-location profile

Here’s a worked example which demonstrates the same process in more detail. In this scenario the clothing retailer ‘Mr & Mrs’  is designing a campaign to promote a new range of clothing. As with the previous example 2 profile characteristics are used to dynamically control the campaign content.

Clothing range

The first is gender – there are 3 options: male, female and none/other/unknown, for when no specific profile is available. This profile characteristic is used to control which clothing range is displayed.

Gender preference

The second is location – there are 4 options: Woking, Guildford, London and again other/unknown. This characteristic is used to display information relevant to the subscriber’s nearest store – the local management team members and the store location.


Designing the campaign

The campaign template layout is created in the normal way using the responsive email editor. Sections of the design, like the branded header, the footer and a generic offer of the month, are created using standard Components.   These will always be displayed in the same way to all subscribers.

Header section


Footer section


The sections of the campaign which are to vary are created using Dynamic Content Components. These are the clothing range itself, the meet the local team and the local store information.

When creating the base version of the template all of the potential options for each piece of Dynamic Content are included. For the clothing range there are 3 rows of promoted items: male only, female only and a mixture of both – this is for where the preference is other/unknown.  For the location there are 4 options: Woking, Guildford, London and other/unknown.

Completed template

With all of the sections complete the final base campaign looks like this – with 3 options for clothing preference and 4 options for location. Where the location is unknown the local team and store information is replaced with a generic team picture and a store locator.

Template with images

Using the profile information

The standard Components are displayed in the same way to every subscriber, whereas the Dynamic Content Components are customised according to the profile characteristics of the each particular subscriber.

Profile information can be captured explicitly, for example as a field on a data capture form. Alternatively it can be collected indirectly from a point of sale or other observed behaviour.’s Audience Insights allows an in-depth subscriber profile to be built from following subscribers from their campaign interaction through to their online browsing behaviour.

Subscriber profiles

In this example we have 5 sample subscribers whose profile characteristics are as follows:

  • Barbara, clothing preference is female, lives in Guildford
  • Brian, clothing preference is male also lives in Guildford
  • Dawn, clothing preference is unknown, lives in London
  • David, clothing preference is male, location is unknown
  • Dale, clothing preference is female, lives in Woking

Based on these profiles, taking three of the subscribers as examples, the campaigns that Barbara, Brian and Dawn receives are shown below.

  • (Left) – Barbara sees the female clothing range and information about her store in Guildford
  • (Centre) – Brian sees the male clothing range and also information about the Guildford store
  • (Right) – Dawn sees a mix of female and male clothing and information about the London store

Completed campaigns

Analysing the results

Since email campaigns including Dynamic Content create multiple variations of the base template the ‘Analyse’ section is automatically expanded to show both the campaign results as a whole and those of each individual variation.

Further information

Dynamic Content Components are a custom feature of the responsive email editor.

Please contact the Client Success team to activate the pre-built Dynamic Components in your account and to advise on their use. If you have a specific requirement, the customisation of Dynamic Content Components is available as one of the template customisation services – please contact your Account Manager for further details.