Common Dynamic Tagging Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

dynamic tagging mistakes

Dynamic tags are a key component of email personalization, since they allow you to leverage customers’ profile information to create customer-specific content within your email templates. The most common use of these dynamic tags is to refer to customers by their first names in order to send a more personalized, 1:1 message. A number of studies have shown that emails that include customers’ names result in higher open rates, and thus conversions. However, when used improperly, these dynamic tags can actually do more harm than good — failed personalization can sometimes serve to make your emails seem more generic than a simple “Hey there.” Here are some common dynamic tagging mistakes that email senders make and some tips on how to avoid them.

Blank Customer Name Field

Have you ever received an email that starts off with, “Hey  ,”? I have, and there’s nothing worse than seeing a blank space where you know your name is supposed to appear.

This mistake happens when you use the dynamic tag {{ first_name }}, but don’t set a default response. It may sometimes happen that you collect an email address without a corresponding first_name or last_name property, either because a customer didn’t input this information when he or she signed up for your mailing list, or because you received their email address some other way. Since there’s no first_name tag assigned to these customers, they will receive a blank “Hey  ,” email if you don’t set a default response.

Luckily, this is very easy to set up. When you use your {{ first_name }} tag, simply add a default, like so:

{{ first_name|default: ‘there’ }}

Once you set default you would like to use, customers who haven’t inputted their first name will receive an email that reads “Hey there,” instead of “Hey  ,”. Alternatives to the “there” default can include “friend,” “valued X customer,” or anything else you can think of. To this end, whenever you are using a dynamic tag to refer to an individual property, you should set a default in case you don’t know this property for all customers.

Incorrect Capitalization

Newspaper alphabet

Unless you purposely stylize your capitalization as all-lowercase or all-caps, “Hey marissa,” or “Hey MARISSA,” can look strange. The {{ first_name }} tag will use whatever capitalization a customer used when inputting their first name into your signup form, which means sometimes you’ll get a “marissa” or “MARISSA,” or maybe even a “mAriSsA.” For this reason, you’ll want to ensure that your capitalization is standardized when you use the {{ first_name }} tag.

The fix for this is similar to setting a default. Use this tag to ensure sure that you’re correctly capitalizing your customers’ names: {{ first_name |title }}.

Conclusion

Dynamic tagging is an excellent, quick way to personalize any email you send. That said, it only works well if it’s executed properly. Check your email templates to make sure you’re not guilty of any of these common tagging mistakes and, if you are, follow these tips to correct them. If you’re interested in learning more about dynamic tagging, you can visit our doc on template tags and syntax or Django’s built-in template tags.

 

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2 comments

  • Great quick tip! Although you might want to consider using the “title” tag instead of the “capfirst” tag when you want to correct name capitalization.

    The “title” tag capitalizes the first letter AND make sure all subsequent letters are lower case, but the “capfirst” tag only takes care of the first letter.

    Here’s an example:
    Let’s assume the person’s first name is John. Now let’s consider three problem cases for the {{ first_name }} tag:

    1. “john” (all lower case)
    In the first case, {{ first_name|capfirst }} will return “John” which is correct.

    2. “JOHN” (all upper case)
    But, in the second case, {{ first_name|capfirst }} will return an all-caps “JOHN” which is not ideal.

    3. “joHn” (mixed)
    To see why this happens, let’s consider the third case. In this case, {{ first_name|capfirst }} will turn the value “joHn” into “JoHn”. In other words, it solves the problem of the first letter needing to be capitalized, but does not fix the following letters, which should all be lower case.

    The “title” tag will deal with all three of these cases correctly. It will capitalize the first letter AND make sure all subsequent letters are lower-case. If the {{ first_name }} tag equals “joHn”, the {{ first_name|title }} will return “John”.

    The best way to combine all tag features is to use the tag: {{ first_name|title|default:’there’ }}. Note that I included the “title” tag BEFORE the default tag. This is because I want all the letters in the default value to remain lower-case. (If I wrote it as “Hi {{ first_name|default:’there’|title }},” I would get the value “Hi There,” which is not ideal either.)

    Hope this helps!
    Ian Maier

    • Thanks so much for the tip, I updated the article to reflect your advice!

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