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The complete guide to behavior-based email marketing

If we were to ask you: ‘which is the most evergreen, RoI positive, and dependable strategy of the digital marketing tool kit?’, what would you say?

If you guessed email marketing, then you are spot-on! Here’s the return you get from different strategies for every $1 spent:


No wonder 93% of B2B marketers use email as one of their key content dissemination tools, and 40% of these marketers credit email newsletters for their content marketing success. 

And why won’t they? 99% of consumers check their emails ev-ery-day. That is a wide-open opportunity window for any marketer who has the strategic and visionary know-how to leverage email marketing for success.

The newest way to do this is through behavior-based email marketing– timely, personal, and action-based emails that provide value to the customer and decrease friction on the road to conversion.

What is behavior-based email marketing?

The practice of sending targeted, automated emails to users based on their behaviors and interactions with your company across the board is called behavior-based email marketing.

Now, MarketingSherpa found that 39% of marketers found success in sending automated emails to users based on their actions or inaction. Despite this, only a small segment of marketers are actually using behavior-based email marketing.


How ironic that the ‘secret’ is in plain sight, but few are investing in the time and resources to use it successfully?

Why behavior-based?

You would, thus, have cracked the code by now: behavior-based emails are simply highly personalized emails.

How are they different from traditionally segmented and personalized emails?

These emails are based on user actions and not on a persona created by a fired digital marketer one year ago. Real-time data and actions drive these emails. Thus, they require marketers to pivot and refine as needed and not continue shooting pre-decided automated emails even when the customer isn’t opening up.

Moreover, while the number of email users is already huge, it is only slated to grow in the coming years as per data from eMarketer:

The pool of 99% of consumers who open their emails will only continue to expand. Are you ready to jump in with both feet in?

The starter’s how-to pack on behavior-based email marketing

The 3 components of a complete behavior-based email are as follows:


You’ll be building on these principles to craft a compelling and successful behavior-based email marketing campaign. Here’s how to do it:

Find out common action triggers

You would be surprised to know how sparingly and non-strategically marketers are using different behaviors as trigger actions for sending behavior-based emails. These are opportunity windows being missed out!

Only 24% of companies are sending out emails after cart abandonment.

Only 33% have emails set up after a user downloads content.

6% of the respondents are not even making use of any of the triggers!

Let’s ensure you do not fall into any of the above categories.

  • If a user has spent time browsing your blog, you can send them a follow-up email with more useful content.
  • If they abandon their cart without checking out, you can send them a tailored offer or small account as an additional incentive to complete the purchase.
  • If it’s their birthday or they’ve completed a milestone no. of years with you, you can thank them for being a valued subscriber by offering a discount on their first purchase. Or if they have been a customer, you can up-sell a new product at a special birthday offer. They’ll be delighted to receive the birthday gift!

All of these are user-focused behaviors that you can keep track of to send timely, personalized, action-based emails that have a high chance of converting.

You can also factor in social media engagement and data collected from other integrated software.

Track the most common ones for your business

Depending on where you are in your business and how your marketing activities are performing, some user actions- both positive and negative- will be more common. 

Positive ones include an increased number of content downloads or higher staying time on the website. Negative ones include cart abandonment and high unsubscribe rates.

Hence, at any particular point in time, some user actions will outweigh others heavily. At that time, you can pick out any 3 positive trigger actions and 3 negative ones to heavily focus on and leverage to their highest potential.

Get conversing!

Final step: write that email and send it out!

After the initial expenditure of time and energy, you can simply automate these emails (using HubSpot’s workflow automation, for example) and keep checking in to make sure the emails are still timely, personal, and action-based.

Also Read: E-mail Marketing 101

Examples of behavior-based emails

This section of show-and-tell will help to clarify the final pieces of behavior-based emails. 

Cart abandonment email

Seeing how 68.07% of shopping carts are abandoned, it becomes crucial to send these emails. What’s more- over a third of these emails work their magic and customers actually complete the purchase! So, exercise those copy and design muscles to craft the perfect cart abandonment email.

You can take inspiration from the following examples as well: 

The first one is from a wine company called Winc. It is funny, conversational, and also offers a discount on the first order as an additional incentive.


This second one is from Target. Not only do they prompt the user to complete the purchase, but they also include similar items.

The reason someone would not have completed the purchase is because they might be waiting for a ‘better’ item or offer to come along. With this email, Target spreads out the net for both those expectations. The customer has no choice but to be enticed and catch one of the baits.


Putting a little thought and effort into these emails will not only help to build your brand personality in the eyes of the customer, but it will also make you stand out. Only 24% of companies are sending out cart abandonment emails, remember? You can leave a mark even in that pool of 24%.

Milestone emails

Remember the anniversaries emails we mentioned in the how-to section? Here are a few examples of those emails so you can make your customers feel special, seen, and appreciated

The first one is from Uber. It feels so customized and personal that no doubt each Uber driver would feel their heart swelling with happiness upon reading it:


Here’s a snapshot of an email from Swiggy with the subject line ‘Got a birthday? Get a birthday present!’ Who wouldn’t open it?


Especially sending an email to get to know a customer’s birthday to gift them, locks you in their mind. When their birthday comes around, guess what? A little subconscious part of them will look forward to receiving your message as well.

Customer retention emails

As a top hubspot partner agency, we understand that emails work to ensure that existing customers continue to engage with your products and services while also (hopefully) spreading the word about them to others in their community.

The first example is from Withings. 


They use personalized data tracking backed up by copy like ‘you are getting closer to the activity goal set by the WHO.’ This stokes feelings of approval and validation and motivates the user to keep tracking and also share their progress.

The next one is from the finances tracking Mint app:


Even if someone does not log into the app daily, these weekly updates along with the action prompt to ‘compare to previous spending’ is a great way to keep customers engaged.

Check out – HubSpot Marketing Agency

There are a lot of other email categories as well that aren’t mentioned here, but make for great behavior-based emails. The crucial thing is to keep an eye on the trigger actions for your business and craft emails accordingly.

It’s time to get your hands dirty now! This guide on behavior-based email marketing will help you take those first steps towards high-converting and personalized emails. Your customers and data will lead you further and onward. 

Author avatar
Mayank Gulati