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How do I add dynamic images to an email?

Countdown timers, dynamic adverts and personalized Birthday cards.

Dynamic images are perfect for when you want to grab the recipient's attention. Perhaps you'd like to wish them a Happy Birthday and make it personal with their first name, or maybe you'd like get their heart thumping with the excitement of a limited time offer.  Working with third party image generators (billed separately), it's super easy to insert a dynamic image into your email. 

Here's how it's done... 

When you insert an image in the editor, you can flag it as “dynamic”. Dynamic images are images that change depending on one or more values that are "passed" to the system that delivers them. The link to the image is no longer a static URL but rather a URL that contains some variables, such as an email, a customer ID, a date, etc.

The variables are merge tags in the URL and are replaced with actual values (e.g. the ID of a customer, the email of the recipient, the name of the person...) at the time the email is sent, or the landing page is rendered.

Some cool examples of dynamic images include:

  • personalized cards
  • countdown timers
  • dynamic ads
  • product recommendations
  • etc.

Let's take a look at a few examples.

Personalized birthday cards

How can you send a birthday card to thousands of customers, via email, each personalized with the customer's first name? With dynamic images, it's easy to do. There are services that can generate images "on the fly", personalized to the customer's name e.g. Niftyimages.

Once you've created your perzonalised image in Niftyimages, pop the dynamic image url into the email editor; it's a piece of cake. 

In the example below, a hardcoded word ("Let's Celebrate") is used in the URL (i.e. the "placeholder" URL), whereas a variable ("") is used in the dynamic URL, to be replaced at send time (or rendering time if it's a landing page) by the name of the recipient of the image (or viewer of the page). That means, you'll never have an email blunder; each recipient will receive an email with their first name on it and if you don't have their first name recorded in your database, instead it'll say 'Let's Celebrate'. That's a thousand times better than 'Happy Birthday NA', for example.

Dynamic countdown timers

Another great application for dynamic images is countdown timers. Here you will be passing in the Dynamic URL the date of an event, the time of a new store's grand opening, the date and time a promotion expires... you name it. The system on the other side will automatically generate a GIF animation that will look like a countdown timer, signaling the time remaining to the event.

A placeholder image can be used in the URL while you design the message (or page), so you know exactly how the end result will look like.

There are many third party sites that you can use to create these... we like Niftyimages, but there's also Fresh Relevance, CountdownMail, and many others.

Dynamic ads

You can also use dynamic images to turn your emails into a revenue producer, if you have a large audience and are open to the idea of hosting third-party ads. Companies like LiveIntent provide a quality solution for publishers that want to monetize newsletters, blog digests, etc.

Typically, you will need to pass a few variables to LiveIntent, including the recipient's email. They will help you configure the Dynamic URL, which you will then simply need to enter into the corresponding field in the editor.