By Jennifer Shore

As a marketer, you probably manage different audiences, regions, and even languages to make sure prospects, clients, and partners know what to expect over the next few months. 

How do you make sure the right person sees the right message at the right time, without doing so much customization that you might as well be emailing people individually?

If you are a new Marketo user, or if you are evaluating Marketo as a solution, here are some tips for using Marketo’s dynamic content feature to save yourself some time.

What Does “Dynamic Content” Mean in Marketo?

There are a number of tools in Marketo for personalizing content: Tokens let you pull in fields such as First Name or Lead Owner. Snippets keep information like your office address up to date across a number of email templates. Lead scoring can help you create lists or alert sales reps so people get the right content at the right time based on behavioral and psychographic factors. 

Dynamic content in Marketo refers to a content block in an email or on a landing page that is different based on the type of person who is reading. Dynamic content can help you customize emails or landing pages based on geography, language, job title, sales rep, or any other characteristic relevant to your personas. For example, you might use it to:

  • Localize a company-wide update based on language preference or geography.
  • Allow sales reps or regional directors to personalize messages to their territories.
  • List events in specific regions or cities.
  • Include different featured resources or images based on industry or role.
Learn how SmartBug generated a 6,800% increase in email marketing traffic using  Marketo and inbound marketing tactics.

Who Sees Marketo’s Dynamic Content?

In Marketo, dynamic content blocks are based on segmentations and segments. A segmentation is an audience category like “Region” or “Job function.” Each segmentation is broken down into segments that you define across your entire database. 

People can only be in one segment per segmentation, so make sure your segments make sense when you set them up. Segments should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive—so you don’t wind up with competing categories such as “Europe” and “EMEA”. 

Each organization can only have 20 different segmentations. Each segmentation can have 100 segments. 

When categories are not clean-cut and mutually exclusive, segmentations are not the right option. Fans of Tegan and Sara may also like Billie Eilish; because those categories overlap, they are not good segments. Those preferences could still be used for building lists, tokens, or other personalization, but cities, states, or well-defined metro areas would be a more useful way to segment music fans.

Using Dynamic Content in an Email

Once you set up and approve a segmentation at the organizational level, you can create dynamic content blocks based on each segment in your email programs.

Each dynamic content block is based on one segmentation only. You can customize the block for each segment within the segmentation. You can choose to have some segments see the same content; you’ll also create default content to display for anyone who does not have a segment assigned.

Multiple dynamic content blocks based on multiple segmentations can be used in one email. Two obvious use cases are newsletters and sales emails, where the intro copy may vary regionally, and subsequent stories or product offerings could be dynamic based on segmentations for company size or job function. 

Within dynamic content blocks, you can also use tokens to pull field values or URLs into your copy and further customize the content. For example, if you were managing online learning for a university with international campuses, you might use dynamic content blocks to control the language of your copy. Within the block, tokens could allow you to pull in the name of a student’s school or program, their record owner or contact person, and important dates for that program. 

One limitation you should think through as you design your segmentations: You can’t use multiple segmentations to determine the content of one block. For example, if you are using a language segmentation to localize the language of your copy, you can’t also vary the copy within that block based on a different segmentation for role or industry. You could, however, further personalize that content using different tools. For example, using tokens, you could pull in fields from a person’s record within dynamic content blocks. 

Looking for Marketo help? Contact us right now—we're here for your business.

Dynamic Change Management for Dynamic Content

The possibilities with Marketo’s dynamic content options are endless—but your team’s capacity is not. Do yourself a favor and start small, with one segmentation. For many organizations, the most obvious place to start is location. 

Getting started should involve making sure that you have excellent data quality in your database. You can use programs in Marketo to clean data in both Marketo and your CRM, or you can partner with outside vendors. 

Using dynamic content may also involve changes to processes. For example, if different segments require different approvers (such as for localized copy), you may want to send test emails for approval by segment. If you are localizing language, you may need a process to translate copy quickly (as this marketer learned). 

Finally, you will need to decide which reporting setup makes the most sense for your goals.

Once your initial setup is done, dynamic content will allow you to customize quickly and at scale.

Need help getting started? Schedule a time to chat with one of our Marketo Certified consultants. We’ll discuss your organization, goals, and how SmartBug® can help you.


Comparing the three top industry leaders:

The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Automation Software

Check It Out
Jennifer Shore

About the author

Jennifer Shore was formerly the Director of Marketing and a Seattle-based writer who has received numerous awards for her work. In her role at SmartBug, she is responsible for the development, execution, and optimization of the high-growth lead funnel, nurturing, and customer acquisition. Read more articles by Jennifer Shore.

Subscribe to get our new blogs delivered right to your inbox