Design: Pulling personalised data into email images

Posted on December 22, 2017 at 3:00 pm Written by

Back in the Spring of 2015 I wrote a blog about a new application that allowed you to serve personalised images into your emails so that every Subscriber in your database gets their own unique image in their campaign from you.

The app was called NiftyImages and for me it was love at first sight!

Personalised Images are dynamic images that change based on the recipient’s name (or any other data). Any email merge field can be used in your images.

Ever since, I’ve watched them go from strength to strength adding more options and features so I thought it was about time to do a new review and show you how you can incorporate this clever system into your NewZapp emails.

Starting at www.niftyimages.com, a free trial gives you scope to have a good play around and even create an image for one of your campaigns with its generous limit of “10,000 opens” (an ‘open’ being every time an image is displayed on someone’s screen, so you’d probably be pretty safe sending an email with one Nifty image included to a database of up to 10k).

Once logged into your account, first stop….

Settings

Before getting too excited with the juicy stuff,  you should get the formalities out the way. In ‘Settings’ you can set the Time Zone you are working in. This will help when looking up accurate impression stats, and making countdown timers. Just as importantly, set your ESP (yes NewZapp is in the list!).  Click to Update, then onto…

Create a New Personalised Image

Since I last used the system we have 4 options to pick from now. Nifty’s tutorials are just how I like them – clear, short and to the point! So I’m including links as their nifty little videos which will explain more succinctly then me:

  1. Personalized Image – An image with one tag of personalisation in it – see how
  2. Countdown Timer – Based on an “end date/time” of your choice – see how
  3. Live Instagram Feed – New feature alert No1!  – see how
  4. Live Pinterest Feed – New feature alert No2! – see how

In this blog I’m going to concentrate on making a personalised image.

Click to zoom on some examples of how an image can be personalised

Pick a template (image):

Pick a template (image)

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Step 1 – pick a template (image)

Not a “like you get in NewZapp” template, a “more like an image” template…  it’s just like zeds or zees, just a different way of describing things!

Since I last used the system there are loads of new free ones to try, and don’t be fooled into thinking that the 22 featured templates/images are all there is. There are now 11 categories to choose from such as Alerts, Animated GIFs, Art, Birthday, Call To Action, Charts and Graphs, eCommerce, Holiday, Invitation, Outdoors, Photography. I’d suggest starting with one of these just to get the feel for the interface. Today, I’m feeling Christmassy.

Don’t worry after you’ve picked a template/image that the first name tag doesn’t look exactly like the format you use in NewZapp – Nifty knows what our tag style looks like and it will be correct in the url it creates for you. Or if you want to use a different data tag like [companyname], or a custom data tag like [Discount Code], either would be really easy to use too.

In Template Options you can change the text phrase, change the personalisation tag, and set a default back up for the tag should you have any gaps in your data. eg. If using the tag [companyname] and you don’t have a company name for every subscriber in your database, you might use “Your Company” as a default backup.

 

Step 2 – Generate the HTML that loads your image into an email

On this Step you’ll be given the HTML for your new unique image. For my own test, the url generated  is:

<img src="https://img1.niftyimages.com/4s/740/sge?txt=[firstname]" />

We don’t actually need quite all of this code, NewZapp just needs the part inside the quote marks, so we would copy this as our image code:

https://img1.niftyimages.com/4s/740/sge?txt=[firstname]

This code will call the image into any email campaign, with the [firstname] tag automatically included. In other words, each time you send an email to your database it will….

– Look up the image that you chose

– Look up the data for the particular Subscriber

– Merge the two together as one flat image

This is the point where you would change the [firstname] part to another tag if it was a different piece of data that you wanted to pull in from your Subscribers database.

 

Step 3 – Head over to your NewZapp account

We’re now ready to put a campaign together that includes the image.

  • Having copied the part of the code mentioned above, it’s ready to paste in to my email, so let’s login and go to Create & Send.
  • Create a new email and in the place where you want your NiftyImage to sit, insert any image.

Simply add any image to the space where you want your NiftyImage to appear

Simply add any image to the space where you want your NiftyImage to appear

Simply add any image to the space where you want your NiftyImage to appear

Simply add any image to the space where you want your NiftyImage to appear

  • Right click on the image and choose the Source option, a pop-up will open to show you the HTML source code.
  • NewZapp’s Drag and Drop editor doesn’t include the dimensions of an image in your HTML code, so it’s quite straightforward to now change the image path (just the part between the quotation marks) and the image will automatically size itself.
  • e.g. in my example I’m replacing:
    https://system5.newzapp.co.uk/servershare/17067/nz-images/heart-outline-md.png
    with:
    https://img1.niftyimages.com/4s/740/sge?txt=[firstname]

 

Replacing the original image url with your NiftyImages URL

Replacing the original image url with your NiftyImages URL

Replacing the original image url with your NiftyImages URL

Replacing the original image url with your NiftyImages URL

  • Click OK, and you’ll see the image you originally insert replaced with your NiftyImage. Literally…. get in!

Your NiftyImage can now be seen loading into your email at actual size

Your NiftyImage can now be seen loading into your email at actual size

Your NiftyImage can now be seen loading into your email at actual size

Step 4 – Don’t depend on the image only

It’s as true as it ever was that spam filters are at their happiest when an email has a good text to image ratio. Emailing a campaign that is one single image can still cause you issues with deliverability.

  • So add some text to your campaign that supports/explains what the image depicts.
  • Within that text, why not add another data (or custom) tag for good measure, and you’ll have a really personal email campaign.
  • With my test I’m using one of our system templates, so I’ve also added a bit of complimentary colour to the surround with the Design tools.

Add another tag for good measure, and you’ll have a really personal email campaign

Add another tag for good measure, and you’ll have a really personal email campaign

Add another tag for good measure, and you'll have a really personal email campaign

 

Step 5 – As if I need to mention…

Test, test, and test again! Don’t worry to much about how many impressions you are notching up when editing or sending yourself and colleagues a copy, in the scheme of things this is a tiny amount and are unlikely to make a difference in the pricing option you were to sign up to if you get hooked after your first personalised campaign.

 

Areas where I’d love to see improvements

  • I struggle with dates in US format, so if the system recognised that my time zone was European and showed me stats in a non-US format, that’d be super.
  • The appearance of the image on mobile isn’t quite what I’d like it to be. I’m a bit of a hard task master as the image will scale if you’re using it in a NewZapp email but if you’re used to the niceties of image swaps you might find that alone a bit disappointing as the personalisation is often quite small on a mobile screen (as per screen shots above). That’s when it might be worth using a mix of images in a campaign, with only one being your NiftyImage. On that one, use their editor to add your choice of font, colour, angle and position.

In these screen shots I’ve used a NewZapp template that has a large scaling image with a NiftyImage that is smaller so that when it scales on mobile its larger on the screen. Happy days.

 

Next in the series

Now you know how and where to put a NiftyImage image into your NewZapp email campaign, in my next blog I’ll be looking at making a Countdown Timer, and after that how to bring in live feeds from Instagram & Pinterest… if you can resist trying them beforehand.

 

Follow Annette West on Twitter

Annette West

Project Manager at NewZapp

@NettyWest

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