Questions this guide will answer:
- How do I set a personalisation fallback?
- Why should I set a personalisation fallback?
Setting a personalisation fallback allows you to dictate what is shown in a message when there is no data present to personalise with. The platform automatically performs validation on lists which do not contain the right custom fields as explained in our guide on personalisation mismatches. However, it does not stop you from using a list which contains the right custom fields, but with no data in one or more of those custom fields – and that’s where personalisation fallbacks come in.
In each box, enter the fallback which will be shown any time there is no data in that custom field for a particular recipient. If you leave the box blank then a blank space will be shown as the fallback.
If you were using our example above, you would need to enter the name you want to appear if the recipient has an empty first_name field in the list. The message we are using in this example looks like this:
So we might want to use a fallback such as ‘there’ or just leave it blank, so the greeting would read ‘Hello there’ or simply ‘Hello ‘ (but you would likely not notice the space when reading the email).
The Importance of Fallbacks
If you decide not to set a fallback, it can cause your email to look rather strange. It may create unintended sentence structures that would make the email look poorly written, reflecting badly on your brand. In some cases, it might mean that a crucial piece of information is missing and the recipient would not know why it was missing, which could be disastrous.
In this example, it’s very obvious that there was meant to be personalisation there but it was missing:
Let’s say you have got this at the start of your email:
You then send out the message to your list, and for the first contact the first_name field has “Sandra” in it. That would read like this:
So, no problems there… but what if the next recipient had no data in the first_name field? If there was no fallback set, then it would read like this:
The punctuation and spacing here is a very basic mistake and recipients would quickly notice this. It’s also likely that this would be the first thing they read, so they may not continue after losing trust in the email. However, if for this same contact there was a fallback of “Friend” set, it would look like this:
This way, they still recieve a welcoming greeting that makes sense and uses the correct punctuation. Problem avoided!
Fallbacks for Dynamic Images
Personalisation tags and their fallbacks can be used for more than simple text based personalisation. For example, dynamic images can be used to personalise emails to your recipients by providing a different image for different groups of people. If you don’t set a fallback for a dynamic image and there is no data in the related custom field, then recipients will see a broken image link like this:
Let’s say you’re a national cinema chain and you want to add dynamic images based on the recipients hometown, to show them their local site. You could set a fallback which displays a flagship site for all recipients who you do not have data for. This ensures that they still see an image and they would never know that anything was out of the ordinary if that image is generic rather than personalised.