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What is Behavioral Email Marketing? Definition, Tips & Examples


Nowadays, when you think of marketing, influencers and social media are what come to mind. However, to this day, email marketing is among the most powerful tools for all marketers, regardless of their sector.

Statista reports that there were over 3.9 billion email users in 2019.

This figure is projected to reach a whopping 4.3 billion by 2023. Not only is email still a valid mode of communication, instead it has proven to be effective for brands as well.


For instance, as per Hubspot, the ROI of email marketing stands at 4000 percent! This means that for every dollar spent on such campaigns, the brand reaps revenue worth 40 USD. And a study by Campaign Monitor revealed that segmented email marketing leads to an increase in revenue by 760 percent.

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However, not all emails are read by consumers. And hence, not all such efforts are fruitful. In fact, the average open rate of emails is 22.1 percent. Instead of traditional campaigns, now behavioral email marketing has a much higher chance of being successful.

Behavioral Email Marketing – The Layman Definition

The modern consumer wants personalization. According to Invesp, over 53 percent of online consumers find customization of communication to be valuable, while 45 percent of people prefer buying from platforms that provide personalized recommendations.

The more personal and customized your email campaign is, the higher is the chance that it will be effective.
This is where behavioral email marketing comes in. This strategy revolves around using consumer data extracted from your website, social media, consumer database, etc., to create segmented and targeted messages based on each consumer’s likes, activities, and interests.

Behavioral Email Marketing

For instance, let’s say you operate an online apparel store. A customer bought dresses from you. You can then send the recommendation of accessories that go with the dress they bought via email. This is likely to help in increasing consumer engagement with the brand.

Here is why behavioral email marketing works:

  • It helps brands in understanding the needs of consumers and then satisfying those needs specifically.
  • It improves email engagement, website activity, and subscription rate.
  • It allows the business to attain and incorporate consumer feedback, which helps in strengthening the service provided.

The 3 Types of Behavioral Emails

It is easier for businesses to create behavioral email marketing campaigns if they categorize them according to the consumer buying journey. This model is the best way to illustrate the standard consumer behavior.

Every consumer goes through a similar journey, as depicted in the graph below. This involves identifying the need for a given product, gaining awareness about the brands that offer it, researching and comparing alternatives, deciding which one to purchase, and then finally buying it. This is followed by post-purchase experiences, like customer support and repurchase.

Different email campaigns work on the consumer, depending on what stage they are in.

Overall, behavioral emails can be divided into three types:

  • Introductory emails, which include onboarding, welcome notes, and FAQs. Such emails are best delivered when a consumer expresses interest and awareness of your service by subscribing to your website.
  • Site activity emails that are sent when certain items are viewed, carts are abandoned, or videos are watched on the website. This is best suited for the research part of the journey.
  • Conversion emails that are triggered by purchase or any action performed by the subscriber. This is best suited for the purchase part of the journey. For instance, a thank-you email can be sent after purchase. Or notification can be sent when similar things go on sale.

Top 3 Tips for a successful campaign

Here are some email marketing tips that are bound to help you in developing a killer campaign.

1. Segment properly

Before you begin developing emails, you must need to segment your target audience into smaller groups with similar behavioral patterns. Segmentation can be done based on:

  • Purchasing behavior
  • Engagement-level
  • Frequently searched item
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer journey stage
  • User interests

For instance, you can track your consumers’ purchasing behavior to send them personalized discounts, product recommendations, and marketing messages that make them feel valued. This will help increase their loyalty.

Similarly, you can also customize the message according to the device they use to view your emails. Consumers who use tablets should be served tablet-friendly content.

2. Personalize the content

There is much more to a personalized email than offering customized emails with relevant offers. You must also strive to make the message as personal as possible. Here, the trick is to send them the right content at zero moments of truth.

As per research conducted by Forrester Total Economic Impact, content personalization in event campaigns have an ROI of 667 percent.

Use the data you have regarding the gender, income level, location, and past purchase of consumers to create content that is thoroughly relevant to the customer. For example, when promoting your Black Friday Sale, you can send offers depending on consumers’ past purchases.

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3. Don’t overdo it

There are a lot of actions that a consumer might take. The same user might be subscribed to your newsletter, buy items from your platform, adds items to their wish list, and abandoned carts.
Does this mean that you should send them an email for each of these actions?
Sending too many emails can annoy the customer, who may either block you or, worse, decide that your business is not worth the spam!

So, make sure to maintain the right frequency of emails. The best way is to ask subscribers upfront if they would like to hear from you. Always offer them the option of unsubscribing from the service.

Top 3 Examples to learn from

You can read all day long about the definition of behavioral email marketing and the best way to do it. Still, you will not learn as much about it unless you see it in action. Here are three brands that do behavioral marketing the right way.

1. Give recommendation like Netflix

Netflix is the king of using consumer data in the right way. The more you use the platform, the more it understands your likes and dislikes when it comes to shows and movies. It then alters its show recommendation to offer content that you are more likely to watch.

Apart from doing it on the streaming site, Netflix also leverages its database for email marketing. Whenever new shows are added to the site, it sends emails to current customers that are most likely to appreciate the content. Mostly, these emails are sent at the start of every month.

It helps in keeping current customers satisfied while luring back those who might have stopped interacting with the platform as much as before. Such personalized emails are likely to reduce the churn rate and improve engagement.

2. Attract non-converted customers back like Airbnb

Airbnb is known for its excellent storytelling and engagement with its customers. When you think about it, the service that it provides is not out of the ordinary. However, it is their marketing efforts and positioning that makes the business so successful.

Airbnb is known to use behavioral email marketing to attract customers that view listings on its platforms but don’t complete the booking. Airbnb sends such users a personalized email a day after they perform the action.

Apart from featuring the exact listing that the given user viewed, the site also lists down other relevant listings within the area, featuring a similar price range.

There are two benefits to such a campaign. It gives users the convenience of restarting their journey right where they left it off. It also helps increase the chances of conversion since it offers different similar options for users to choose from.

Also, see how the site doesn’t overdo it. It sends just one email – which should ideally be enough to remind and re-engage interested users while ensuring that those who are not ready for the transaction are not left annoyed by the incessant marketing efforts.

3. Improve word of mouth like Bombas

Sometimes you will have to give something for free to attain a much bigger profit in the long run. To best target consumers during their post-purchase stage, you can convert them into ambassadors of your brand.
Bombas does this entirely. This online sock selling platform sends recommendation emails to its current customers.
However, to ensure that they do recommend the brand to others, the business gives an incentive to current customers – they get free socks per person who purchase from the brand using the reference of the given consumer.

The email isn’t just personalized but also very detailed about what the business expects users to do. By listing it all down in the form of actionable steps, users are much more likely to follow through.

Ending Remarks

As big data takes over various industries, leverage it for your marketing campaigns. Email marketing, when done right, is immensely profitable. Surely, it will be a shame if your brand doesn’t realize this benefit!
So, accumulate consumer data, analyze and segment it, and develop campaigns that are most likely to work. Good luck!


What do you think?


Written by Abhishek Chauhan


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