Using Dynamic Images in Your Email Newsletters

This post has been updated as of May 2019

We’ve had a question or two lately about adding dynamic images
to email campaigns. By this, folks have meant:

  • Images that are personalized according to the reader’s
    interests, gender, age etc; or
  • Images that change over time, like a holiday countdown

And the skinny of the story is that yes, it’s possible, but
you will have to have to host the images on your own
. By default, our application imports and hosts all
images found when an HTML email is uploaded to a campaign (usually
a really good thing), but unfortunately, this doesn’t let you
overwrite existing images on the fly… Or use the img src= path in
interesting ways throughout your campaign.

Once you have the images hosted somewhere, adding the
cm_dontimportimage attribute to your image tag(s) will ensure that
Campaign Monitor does not import the
externally-hosted image from a path. Here’s an example:

.codeblock {
background: #ededed;

<img src="" width="20" height="20" alt="alt text here" cm_dontimportimage />

Simple, eh? Now we have that sorted, lets look at 2 ways you can
use dynamic images to your advantage.

Personalizing an email by interest, or gender

Using custom fields

You guessed it – we’re going to get messy with
custom fields
here. Say you have a subscriber list with a
custom field for interests – say, ‘Arduinos’, ‘Faraday
Cages’ and ‘Gewgaws’. You want to display a header image in
your email, personalized according to your subscribers’ tastes.
Too easy. Simply create 3 or 4 images – one for each preference,
plus an additional fallback image if required. Once these are
happily hosted on your server, here’s the kind of code you would
add to the HTML email, in order to display the correct image to
each subscriber:

<img src="[Interests,fallback=gadgets].jpg" width="20" height="20" alt="Exactly the gadget you're after!" cm_dontimportimage />

The path,[Interests,fallback=gadgets].jpg will be
changed to include, or the
fallback, at send
time. Here’s more clever ways to use
custom fields in images and links

Changing an image over time (the holiday countdown)

We’ve all seen it on television and the web – ‘Sale starts
in 3 days!’, ‘Limited offer starts tomorrow!’, ‘Sale on
now!’ – but funnily enough, adding exact, time-based messages
to email hasn’t quite caught on. Maybe it’s because most of us
assume that our emails are going to get read on the spot, then
never opened again. However, cool customer Anna Yeaman at Style Campaign punted on
a different kind of behavior – that her email would be opened,
then re-opened repeatedly – when creating a dynamic Christmas
countdown. Click on the image below to view the design (and

From: ‘Xmas
email results
‘, courtesy Style Campaign

Using a bit of in-house wizardry combined with the technique
above, the image in the email is generated by the server in
real-time, each and every time the image is requested (ie. when a
subscriber opens the email). So if a subscriber opens the email
above a daily basis (or even every second), they’ll see an
updated image each time. As a result, the countdown is true to the
timezone it’s viewed in – a subscriber in New York will see a
different image from a subscriber in Sydney, even if the email is
opened simultaneously.

I know what you’re thinking – this is a bloody lot of work
for a single email. But then again, Anna’s results have been
convincing. From
her blog

“The big shift was the no. of times each recipient opened
the email… each recipient viewed the email 5.36

And if this wasn’t appealing enough, then there’s always the
engagement stats:

“We also saw an increase in replies, a favorite was a short
and sweet,”Niiiiiiice”. Our CTR was 40.5% up from

Full results, plus more detail can be found on
Style Campaign’s blog

Although it’s yet to be seen as to whether dynamically loading
images based on subscribers’ interests, or time/date are
particularly effective techniques, we sure think it’s nifty for
providing a more personalized, and/or timely email experience. If
you have any examples of your own, we’d love for you to share
them with us – as always, it’s our customers that are pushing
the envelope when it comes to building innovative emails!

Roundup of the best dynamic email content (with Images)

Dynamic content, specifically dynamic email content, is designed
to wow users and keep them engaged. Impactful email creation
involves using imagery just as much as it does good copy. Why?
Email images, whether they be based on the company, location, or
occasion, liven up a newsletter substantially.

Let’s go through some examples of dynamic email images being
used to enhance newsletters and examine why each one works so

The first example is a basic one, but demonstrates how it’s
easy to get started with dynamic email content.  What’s more
personal than someone’s birthday? Not only does this type of
occasion make for the perfect time to send an email, but it gives
you obvious choices for imagery.

This Woman Within emails shows how using dynamic images in email can improve your newsletters

Source: Woman

Not only does it start off with a pleasant wish for the
receiver’s special day, but it entices them to click through with
a CTA. Notice the CTA is integrated into the image, in both the
button-style presentation and the color scheme.

Don’t underestimate the value of simple gestures, both for
eliciting responses and the tendency to inspire great images.

Fandango email newsletter example - Using dynamic images in your email newsletter

Source: Fandango

Fandango admittedly has an advantage here. The industry provides
Fandango with plenty of awesome posters to promote the latest
content. This email combines numerous ones together—smartly
superimposing the titles and CTAs on the images themselves.

Companies like this can also personalize images to improve a
user’s browsing experience, highlighting the movies they have on
the watch list or simply showing new releases from favored genres.
Email timers can also be used for content as new or upcoming
releases can be promoted with automated emails.

Molly Sims email newsletter graphic example - Using Dynamic Images in Your Email Newsletters

Source: Molly Sims

While the previous example shows off content relevant to a
user’s interest or to a release schedule, this one goes with a
holiday everyone can enjoy. While the birthday example is a holiday
too, this one (and the time period it takes place around) is the
same for everyone.

The benefits of this type of marketing are clear: You can ensure
people don’t miss out on holiday sales. It’s also a great place
to use email timers to promote coupons or to advertise specific
product lines that may be relevant to specific subscribers.

Bon Appetit email example of using dynamic images in email newsletters

Source: Bon

Just looking at this email is likely to make your stomach
rumble. A clever newsletter from a brand that demonstrates recipes
that asks the question: why just tell people about the food? Even
the best adjectives out there can’t replace the feeling of
actually seeing a completed dish.

This also gives a much better presentation than simply showing
people eating at a table or even showing ingredients in the dishes.
The images can make a person more likely to click through. The
subscriber is focused on results and benefits, which means
they’re more likely to facilitate engagement.

Dishes like this are great at a time of year when people head
outside to the picnic table. Recipe-based emails can also work for
holiday food or to satisfy the taste preferences of those who are
signed up to receive info about specific foods.

Don’t just add dynamic email content to your newsletters.
how to improve your images
to make the best impact on your

This post was originally published in February 2011

The post
Using Dynamic Images in Your Email Newsletters
appeared first
on Campaign

Source: FS – Email Marketing Blogs!
Using Dynamic Images in Your Email Newsletters