Agile email creative means creating and curating email content not before send, or at send (with automated or dynamic content) but at the moment the customer opens or re-opens an email.

This agile creative allows the marketer to change pictures in an email depending on time of opening, location of opening (via IP address), weather in that particular area, or the device the email has been opened on.

Movable Ink is a company currently providing this technology as part of its email build and insights platform, a layer that sits on top of a company’s email service provider. I spoke to Matt Potter, VP UK and EMEA, to get some more detail on agile email creative.

What can be done with this technology and in which sectors might it prove particularly useful?

Streamlining the customer experience

A lot of what this agile creative can achieve boils down to eliminating extraneous steps from the user journey when they open an email.

Device recognition is a good example of where the journey from an email can be streamlined. In the example below from Seamless, you can see that the call to action to download the company’s app has been tailored for the device the user has opened the email on.

In this instance, the device is iOS, and so the picture downloaded invites the user to download from the app store and is linked to the correct page in the Apple store.

If the user had opened the email on an Android phone (or indeed reopens it on an Android), the Google Play image and link would have downloaded as part of the email.

This agile creative precludes the user from having to click through to a landing page first, then selecting the right app store download. This kind of optimisation will likely increase the proportion of customers that download the app, as fewer will fall by the wayside after clicking to download.

If this kind of targeting was done based on past user behaviour (and not agile creative), there may be some instances where the user has changed devices and hence the personalisation would be inaccurate.

device targeted email

Targeting locations

Here’s an example of using agile creative to target users in particular locales with appropriate content, with doing any prior segmentation.

The NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball Championship in the USA is down to last four every March. Finish Line wanted to promote merchandise to customers in the surrounds of each school involved.

The IP address of the device the email is opened on is used to locate a user. If the IP is registered to within 100 miles of one of the four schools, a particular team’s merchandise will be promoted in the image that loads into the mail.

If the recipient is outside these zones, a default image showing all four teams is downloaded (on the right hand side in the image below).

location targeted email

No delivery of expired promotions

Using agile creative to download different images for promotions depending on what time the recipient opens the email allows a company to adapt. The countdown clock in emails is the traditional or original use of agile creative, but this can be taken further and made more sophisticated.

This tactic also allows marketers, when the promotion has expired, to load an image in the email explaining this and pointing the recipient to a different or more appropriate landing page.

This example from Boden shows exactly this tactic in use. The second email shows what happens when opened after expiry. Note the call to action to make Boden a priority next time.

Content during promotion..

promotion countdown in email

..and after promotion expiry.

end of promotion in email

Which sectors could really up their game?


Syncing web content into email images, or in effect adding an RSS functionality into email, would be a boon for publishers.

Imagine sending upgrade offers to free registered users where the content is real-time upon opening. This may allow publishers to provide as relevant and compelling call to action as possible, as part of a paywall strategy.


Travel is so time-sensitive, both booking and then when taking up your airline seat or hotel room.

Agile creative could be used to change messages to potential seat reservers about how many seats are left on their plane. It could also be used to let the customer know the next stage of taking their flight, whether checking in, dropping a bag or checking in for the return.

Yes, these are instances where subsequent emails could be triggered, too, but the power of being able to change a link in an old email could work for trying to remarket or remessage to reopeners.