How do I import and use custom variables in Charley Emails?

DWQA QuestionsCategory: Features and GeneralHow do I import and use custom variables in Charley Emails?
asked 3 years ago
1 Answers
answered 3 years ago

What we’ll go over:

  • Using Merge Tags with Custom Variables to personalize your mailings
  • Importing custom profile fields via a CSV file
  • Using Charley’s Smart List Builder to dynamically build an emails list using custom field data

Getting the Data In: Importing Custom Values with a CSV File

Using custom variables in your email marketing enables you to deliver personalized email campaigns and increase the overall effectiveness of your marketing.

How do you do this? Charley’s maintains a rich Visitor Database of all your users. Each list subscriber and visitor to your website (assuming you’ve tagged your website) has a corresponding database record that is a virtual biography of their actions, interests as well as demographic information. For instance, when a subscriber opens or clicks on an email, visits your website, we store these actions as a part of their visitor record.

This automatic, passive data collection is important and allows you to create tailored powerful marketing campaigns. But what if you have data that exists outside that you’d like to use in your marketing campaigns? Charley allows you to easily supplement this visitor record data with custom data that can exist in any other external data source (e.g. favorite color, birthday, gender, etc.)

You can do this a couple of ways:

  1. Import a CSV with email address and this custom data and we’ll create corresponding visitor records with appropriate custom data fields for each column in the CSV
  2. Add subscribers to a new or existing list and include the additional custom field columns in the CSV and we’ll store that automatically in the visitor’s record.

When importing a list of subscribers into Charley, there are default fields such as email, first name and last name. You can include additional fields that will be imported as custom variables and stored in the visitor’s record. Then dynamically insert these custom values into email campaigns, or create custom segments/lists with Charley’s Smart List Builder.

Here’s an example of a CSV file with additional fields that will be imported as custom variables. Please note that the field name is determined by whatever you choose as the column header.

If you’d like to confirm that the custom variables were imported along with each subscriber, you can easily check that subscriber’s visitor record after importing by following these steps:

  1. Click Search Database in the left navigation.
  2. Search for the email address of the visitor you’d like to check.
  3. Click on the visitor. A new tab will open with the visitor’s record.
  4. You can see on the custom profiles fulfilled by the visitor at the bottom of the details page.

Dynamically Inserting Custom Values and Variables into an Email

After you’ve imported your custom subscriber data, inserting those values dynamically in an email campaign is simple. Charley uses merge tags to insert dynamic content. You can read more about it by clicking here.

Every custom variable merge tag follows the same format:


In the example CSV file above, you can see that we have two custom variables: fav_color and bday_month. Written as merge tags, they would look like:



When inserting merge tags into your email campaign, you can simply type them in in either the Source or the Editor. You can even add merge tags in the subject line.

Note that when you save your campaign or if you move back and forth between Source and Editor with typed in merge tags, they’ll appear as icons when you’re back in the editor. Just double click the icon to open the merge tag if you need to edit it.

Using Custom Variables with Smart List Builder

When you import a list with additional fields, they’re imported as custom variables and become apart of the subscriber’s visitor record. This allows you to target and build lists based on this information with the use of Custom Profiles.

In this section, we’ll talk about using the Smart List Builder and adding Custom Profiles from the custom variables you imported into Charley.

  1. Create a New List or use an existing one.
  2. In the actions bar, select Build from Database. This will open up the Smart List Builder overlay.
  3. Let’s create a new profile to use by clicking the Create New Profile button in the upper right corner.
  4. In this new screen, drag-and-drop the Custom Profile Option from the left side into the main table.
  5. In the first text field, type in the custom variable name. From our example above, we’ll use: bday_month
  6. We’ll leave it as “equals” in order to match what we are building the list for. In this case, let’s target those who match for “December.”
  7. Once you’ve inputted your custom variable info, click the Add Profile button in the lower right. Then name and save this profile in the upper left.
  8. After saving the new profile, you’ll be taken back to the Smart List Builder Screen. Go ahead and click the Start List Build Job link on the lower right. Depending on how large your list is, this may take some time. You will be notified via the email address associated with the account you’re logged in with upon completion.

NOTE: When creating your custom profile, your custom variable name and values must be exactly as written in your CSV import.