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When you setup a subscriber list in Campaign Monitor, you start with just an email address, and perhaps a name. If you’ve dug around a bit more, you might have noticed that you can add some more custom fields into each list, up to 50 in addition to the built-in name and email.

At their most basic, custom fields can be a great way to capture and store additional information about your subscribers. You might have a subscribe form on your website that also asks your visitors about their specific interests, and pass that information back to your own database.

Today we’ll mention some of the cooler ways you can make use of those 50 extra fields in your actual email campaigns.

Custom images

This is something that can make your emails look really varied but is actually quite simple. If you’d like to show different images to different subscribers, you can use the value of a custom field right inside an image link. For example, a car dealership could insert a photo of the specific model each customer has expressed interest in.

To make it happen, first you need the actual data in your custom field. In this example, a subscriber might have a field called ‘favcar‘ with a value of ‘datsunsunny‘. To turn that into a picture of said Datsun, your HTML would look like this:

<img src="[favcar,fallback=genericcar].jpg" alt="A photo of your favourite car" width="150" height="100" cm_dontimportimage >

When our Datsun lover opens his copy of your email, the image path will become If a recipient has not specified a favorite car, then the fallback image will be shown instead. Note the cm_dontimportimage attribute there. That stops Campaign Monitor from trying to import the custom image along with all your other images. Instead, it is referenced from your own server.

There’s a lot of ways you might use custom images to make your emails even more targeted to each reader. Let us know if you have any ideas in the comments below.

Unique URLs

Do you have customer IDs which you would like to pass from your email through to your website? You could store those IDs in a custom field, and then insert them into a link as a parameter. Just like the custom images above, it’s a simple matter of using the correct tag inside the link.

<a href="[id,fallback=]">Login to your account</a>

Custom permission reminders

One of the best ways to avoid spam complaints is to remind your readers how and where they signed up to your list. You might have a list that people always join via a single form, and, in that case it is very easy to write a simple permission reminder. On the other hand, you might sign people up online, in your store, at a tradeshow, on the street…that can be hard to explain in a simple way.

If you plan ahead, you can store the source of each sign up in a custom field, and then use that field to construct custom permission reminders. We’ve written about this before in How to personalize your permission reminders, so check out that post for more.

Add a personal connection

A very common use of email newsletters is for sales people to keep in touch with their customers and potential customers. Often all the sales people at a particular organisation are sending out the same newsletter. By using a custom field to store the name of the sales person for each subscriber, head office can send one campaign, but still have each email refer to the relevant contact for the recipient.

That might mean inserting the sales person’s name in the footer, their contact details or even using the custom images we’ve discussed above to add their photo. It’s a simple way to create a more valuable email.

Coupon codes

Sure you can send a campaign out to all your subscribers offering a discount with a single code, and that would work great, but what if you wanted to know exactly who responded, and who sent their code on to others? A custom field with a unique coupon code could be your answer. You insert the code into the email, and then you have a neat way of tracking back to find out which customer was most enthusiastic, who forwarded it on to their friends, and so on.

That’s just a few of the ways you could be using your custom fields to create more targeted and valuable email campaigns. Remember that every list can have up to 50 custom fields, and in each field you can have up to 250 characters of data.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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