How Dynamic Images are Reshaping Email Marketing… and What to do About it

by Nicolae Buldumac
How Dynamic Images are Reshaping Email Marketing… and What to do About it

  Getting better results from email campaigns is something that the majority of marketers are still striving to achieve. With so many factors to consider, e.g. personalisation, A/B testing, segmentation and enrichment, the process has become something of a minefield. All companies want to ensure their messages are as engaging as possible, yet many don't think outside of the box and simply rely on basic techniques. Even with the wealth of applications available to help improve email performance, it's still harder than ever to get the results you need.

Why email marketing content needs an upgrade:

  • The average CTR is 1.2%:  The CTR is so low, that some companies simply don't want to waste their time on email marketing

  • The average open rate is 30%:  Open rate is still good, demonstrating that there is still potential interest in products/services, but after opening the email the engagement is almost dead.

  • People just get tired of the same email template & CTA.

  • People are so busy nowadays, that they spend just 5 seconds scanning your email, and it can be difficult to get a message across in such a short timeframe.

  • There’s the risk that recipients will flag your emails if it’s seen as spam.

  • Email providers can block emails that have too much promotional content.

  • Email marketing content is lacking in credibility with B2C audiences. Consumers receive numerous marketing messages to their personal emails every day, which makes them overwhelmed and harder to engage.

Email marketing is an incredibly important asset to any business when used effectively, so companies need to

prioritise achieving a better CTR rate. While segmented campaigns and personalised messages can be useful, today we're going to explore another strategy to improve engagement; Dynamic Images.

Dynamic Images Definition

Dynamic Images are those that have dynamic text and dynamic micro images inside the image, which

change based on your data. Making elements inside the image change based on your rules, will create a dynamic image while also keeping the image's properties.

How are Dynamic Images created?

Using Adobe Indesign Server Edition with another application called XMPie, you will be able to add variables to your images. You’ll need some knowledge of both Adobe CC and XMPie.

Here’s a short guide:

(These steps require you to have Adobe CC, XMPie, a database of companies, and an email marketing tool)

  • After adding the variables inside Adobe CC using XMPie, save the template and you  upload your image to Adobe CC

  • Using XMPie, place your required placeholders where you want the text and image to be dynamically changed

  • Customise the variables with your colour or gradient, or any filters you may have

  • Save the template

  • Develop an XML connection between Adobe CC Server Edition with your company list

  • Match your company list fields to the template variables

  • Design your email template and include the image links with variables

Again, this is a very technical guide, but for an employee who understands how Adobe CSS Server Edition works, has a good grasp of XMPie and understands basic website development, it will be easy to implement.

Source: DigitalSignage

After following the steps above, each subscriber from your email list will receive

personalised images that have a higher chance of CTR. You can use this strategy, not only in emails, but in any other channel you use to communicate with your clients.

Why Dynamic Images are performing better:

  • Dynamic images generate engagement

  • Dynamic images validate company products

  • Dynamic images generate on-demand attention

  • Dynamic images act as product presentations

  • Dynamic images leave impressions much faster

What kind of variables are used direct in-image?

In order to achieve a higher CTR, it’s important to make sure that the content inside the image makes sense to your customers. With this in mind, we've written an example of what kind of variables can be used in an image for some niches as an example.


Ecommerce Sites

For Ecommerce, you can use variables such as:

  • Product Price

  • Product Manufacturer Logo

  • Product Title

  • Product Review Score

  • Customer Country

  • Customer Colour Gender (Pink Image or Dark Image)

(Ex: A customer who has abandoned the cart will receive an image with his/her country flag + coupon code + reduced price on the product image,  so when they open the email, the image will grab their attention).


B2B Sites

For B2B, you can use these variables inside the image:

  • Client Company Name

  • Client Company Logo

  • Client Full Name

  • Client Email Address

  • Company Product Logo

  • Company Product Price

(Ex: A potential employer from a B2B company will receive an image with your product dashboard screenshot, containing his/her full name + logo and a CTA which confirms that your product would work perfectly for the company)


SaaS Application

For SaaS applications, you can use:

  • Company Clients

  • Company CTA (Free Trial)

  • Client Website Alexa Rank

  • Client Website Monthly Traffic

  • Client Twitter @handle

  • Client Website Screenshot

(Ex: potential client who may need your SaaS application will receive an email  containing an image with their website stats and Alexa Rank + Website Screenshot + a CTA such as “Improve your Website Engagement Us)



For a Blog, you can use these variables inside the image:

  • Website Logo

  • Website Location Flag

  • Blog Followers Number

  • Blog Subscribers Number

(Ex: A potential employer from a banking industry will receive an email about your banking blog, he/she will see the email header image with his/her bank logo + country and a CTA such as “How the Bank of America can benefit from my blog content knowledge)



For a local restaurant, you can use the following:

  • Todays dinner meals

  • A coupon code

  • Company Logo

  • Employee Full Name

(Ex: A Restaurant sends 50,000 emails to local companies, the employees receives an email with the restaurant tonight dinner meals and also the image contains a coupon code , the company logo and employee name, this image would like like a very personalized offer to the employee)


Web Design

For a web design agency, you can use this variables inside the image:

  • Website Screenshot

  • Website Logo

  • Website Mobile Screenshot

  • Website Pricing Page Screenshot

(Ex: A potential client receives an email with a design offer, including an image with their website screenshot vs another website screenshot + logo which will ask them to improve the website design to gain more leads, traffic, attention etc)


How much does it cost to implement dynamic images in email marketing?

In order to give an idea of the kind of costs involved, we'll go through the tools needed to complete the process:

  • Adobe Indesign CC Server Edition Pricing: $4,300 one time payment, includes one year free maintenance and support.

  • XMPie uImage Pricing: $4,500 one time payment

  • Companies and Consumer Database Pricing: Company databases vary based on whether you need a subscription-based service or a one-off purchase. The pricing can be anything between $50 to $1000 a month for a subscription, or $50 to $10,000 for a one time payment.

  • Email Tool: Can range from $10 a month to $500 a month. It usually depends on the size of your database; if you have over 100k contacts, you’re looking at paying around $1000 for a reputable tool.

Adding these components together, it could cost you around $10000 to implement this strategy. Clearly, it's not a cheap technique, but looking at it from the benefits perspective, it makes sense to invest this money in order to gain quality leads that are more likely to convert.

Don’t have the budget?

Investing large sums of money in something that isn't guaranteed to work can be a big ask, particularly for smaller companies. If you’re working with a tight budget, try this:

  • Buy or Subscribe to Adobe CC - this costs $25 a month and create 200 images in-house. Sure it’s a lot of work, but it could end up saving you big.

  • Find a company database provider that offers valid and quality contacts, or use your own existing list

  • Use it’s free for the first 1000 contacts each month.Mailchimp for email marketing -

  • Upload all the images you've made in a server and save each image with the email ID.

  • Then upload all contacts into Mailchimp, and when it comes to inserting the image, insert the URL where the images are located and also add email as “variable” inside the image link.

  • When someone opens the email, Mailchimp will access the specified image link and show the dynamic image.

Can dynamic images be used in other channels?

Dynamic images work best inside email for several reasons; you can track email activity, email channel is a trusted channel and email channel is the default channel for communication when it comes to business. However, there are other channels where you can use dynamic images to improve customer engagement, such as:

  • SMS Images

  • Twitter Direct Message

  • Post Card

  • LinkedIn Direct Message

  • On-Page Dynamic Image

  • Ebooks

  • White Papers

A multi-channel strategy can work great when using dynamic images. Start with email, and once you have that process down you can try implementing it into other channels, in order to find out which engages your audience the best.

In conclusion

There aren't many articles about dynamic images and how to use them, so we've tried to introduce the strategy in a clear and concise way. With many companies focusing solely on closing deals, it’s important to mention that failing to keep contacts engaged and quickly see your potential customers taking their business elsewhere; namely, to those companies who are making them feel valued while increasing brand familiarity.

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