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How to Create Dynamic Content with Content Builder in Salesforce Marketing Cloud: A Step-by-step Guide

In the modern-day age of email marketing, a plethora of brands are scrambling to grab – and retain – the attention of their audience. But this is easier said than done. When more and more customers are comfortable severing relationships with brands due to poor customer experiences (58% according to this recent Microsoft survey), brands need to find a way into the hearts and minds of their subscribers.

And one of the most effective ways to do this is by creating hyper-personalized email campaigns with dynamic content.

In this article, we will show you how to create dynamic email content with Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC). We will cover things like:

  1. What is dynamic email content
  2. Why you need dynamic content in email
  3. How to create dynamic content in SFMC with Content Builder

Dynamic content can power up your email marketing, so if you haven’t tried it yet, now’s a great time to start!

What is Dynamic Content In Email and Why Do I Need It?

First things first – what is dynamic content? 

To stand apart from all the me-toos and has-beens in today’s email marketing space, personalization should be the most critical element of your brand’s strategy.

This is because:

Brands using email personalization generate 17% more revenue than brands that don’t use personalization.

A successful email marketing strategy gives customers what they want and when they want.

But a super-successful email marketing strategy also anticipates their needs to give them what they want before they know that they want it!

Here’s where dynamic content in emails can make the crucial difference.

Dynamic content in emails can enable brands to win the “competition for the inbox” in the short term, while building meaningful relationships with the audience, creating loyal super-fans, and ultimately generating greater revenues (and profits!) over the long term.

Dynamic content provides each email subscriber with easy access to relevant information to create personalized experiences.

Email marketers use data about subscribers to define variables that they then use to create tailored and dynamic email content. This data can be:

  • Demographic: age, name, gender, location
  • Behavioral: Preferences, purchase data, offers
  • Firmographic: Role, industry, work address
  • Psychographic: Lifestyle, interests, hobbies

This approach requires a bit more effort than simply creating generic emails for a mass audience. However, the high returns are more than worth it.

65% of marketers rate dynamic email content as their most effective personalization tactic.

Now that you know what dynamic email content is, and why it’s important for your brand, let’s explore the nuts and bolts of creating dynamic content in SFMC with the Content Builder tool.

Ready to dive into dynamic content Salesforce? Let’s go!

Dynamic Email Content with Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Content Builder

Content Builder in SFMC is perfect for creating content with different sets of assets – copies, images or offers – that instantaneously adjust to dynamically personalize every email for every recipient. The content, which can be used in any type of email other than text-based email messages, displays according to the rules you define within Content Builder, based on subscribers’ attributes or data extension values (see previous section). If a particular subscriber does not meet a rule you created, the default content specified in the Default Content field will be displayed in their email. SFMC also provides dozens of email templates that make it easy to create personalized emails that promote meaningful engagements.

In Content Builder, enhanced dynamic content blocks are ideal if you don’t want to create data extensions and complex rules for each content variation. Instead, you can quickly create localized content and multiple audience segments by easily importing data from a CSV file, and by using the built-in drag-and-drop tools, on-screen buttons and templates. Knowledge of HTML coding or AMPscript is not required, since you don’t need to write custom code.

Step-by-step process to create enhanced dynamic content blocks in Content Builder

In the below example, we create dynamic content that will go just below the brand logo. This content will be localized for subscribers in different countries.

Step 1: Go to Content Builder under Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Step 2a: Import a delimited CSV file containing asset names and content variations for each asset. This will enable you to create numerous versions of dynamic content, targeted at each specific audience.

Step 2b: Localizing this content, e.g. by location, will help you target this content when you actually build the email.

Step 2c: Import the localized file

Step 3: Select the email you want to tailor. Now you can add the localized content to it.

Step 4: To edit your email content, drag the dynamic content block and drop it into the email

Step 5:  Content Builder saves assets as “Enhanced Dynamic Content Maps” in the content library.

You can:

  • Use these maps as blocks in emails and templates
  • Link your enhanced dynamic content to an audience during the import, or while adding the blocks to an email or template

Step 6: Preview the different variations before sending them out. You can select your audience after this step.

So if you have created multiple language versions, you can preview each version.

If all translations and localized versions look OK, click on Done Editing and then on Next.

Step 7: Send test emails.

Step 8: If the results of test emails are as expected, you can now deploy your email campaign with dynamic content.

What part of an email content can be made dynamic with SFMC Content Builder?

Subject lines, body copy, images, CTAs, and much more!

Examples of Dynamic Content emails in SFMC

HULU:

This OTT platform (content streaming) encourages users to explore different types of content by sending them personalized emails based on preferences, and previous behaviors. Here, the dynamic content contains names of recommended series plus visuals. Clicking on any visual will take the user directly to that show on Hulu.

Grammarly:

Grammarly sends dynamic emails with details of users’ activity and achievements during the year. This helps keep them motivated, and inspired to keep using Grammarly. The CTA encourages them to upgrade to a paid version of the tool.

Chipotle:

This food brand’s dynamic receipt emails contain details of the user’s order as well as an estimated arrival time which is dynamically calculated and inserted based on current (order) status.

Dynamic Content Salesforce: Best Practices to Keep in Mind

SFMC Content Builder takes the pain out of creating dynamic content so your target audience always receives tailored messages that they will want to read. But to help you get the most value from this user-friendly, yet powerful tool, it helps to keep these best practices in mind.

If you include dynamic content based on data in a data extension, send the email to the same data extension that you based the rules on, or to a data extension that contains fields with the exact same names as the data extension fields used in the dynamic content rules.

Before creating dynamic content, upload the content you want to use. Always keep content blocks up-to-date, otherwise you may end up sending outdated – albeit dynamic! – information to your subscribers.

If you make local copies of content blocks, update the dynamic content block when you edit content already used.

To create dynamic content based on subscriber attributes, define rules based on these four elements:

  • Attributes: The profile on which you want to base the decision of which subscribers see this content
  • Value: To determine which subscribers see this content
  • Operator: The relationship between the attribute and the value selected
  • Content: The content to be displayed for a subscriber who meets the defined attribute requirement

Always choose an operator that makes sense with the chosen attribute. For example, do not use the less than (<) operator with a text attribute. For attributes with type equal to date, only the following operators are supported: is equal to, is not equal to, is greater than, and is less than.

Conclusion

By building dynamic content, you will show your audience that you care about their preferences, and are willing to make the effort to cater to their needs. As a bonus, you will enjoy higher RoI on your email marketing efforts. With Content Builder in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, you can simplify the process of creating dynamic content, and enjoy all its benefits. Then why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain!

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Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing email design and coding companies. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage, share insights with fellow marketers, and enjoys sharing his thoughts on the latest email marketing best practices.

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