behavioral targeting

How To Use Behavioral Targeting In Your Emails To Boost Engagement

What is Behavioral Targeting?

The first rule of behavioral targeting: don’t be creepy. The second rule of behavioral targeting? Follow the first rule. As appropriate as the name ‘behavioral targeting’ may sound, nobody actually wants to be ‘targeted.’ Customers and visitors on your website want to feel like you understand their needs and goals. They want to feel like you are rooting for them  this means planning your behavior based marketing with context.

As advertisers look for new ways to reach customers with context, emails that are triggered automatically based on the activities that customers perform, can boost engagement metrics like clicks, opens, shares and also create loyal customers for your brand.

This means, you aren’t just blindly reaching out to customers and asking them to read an article they have already read or asking them to buy a product they would never use. This means understanding what customers find valuable on your website and giving them more of that value in your emails to them. It means nudging them gently or reminding them about something they may have forgotten.

What are examples of Behavioral Targeting on Email?

Online behavioural targeting with email has been around for a while and is only getting more popular. According to the DMA, Over 75% of email revenue is generated by triggered campaigns, rather than one-size-fits-all campaigns. Automated email campaigns now account for 21% of email marketing revenue. Here are a few examples of behavioral targeting with emails

  • Sending an email to get feedback when a customer orders and receives a product.

  • An email when a customer shops for 4 consecutive months and then skips a month.

  • An email on the anniversary of a customer’s sign up or on their birthday with a special offer

  • A welcome email that is triggered once customers sign up for your mailing list.

  • Sending a customer a follow up only once they open a previous email from you.  


How You Can Use Behavioral Targeting in Your Emails?

Behavioral targeting reduces your work as a marketer, and helps you reach customers at the times when they can get the most value out of your email. With Boomtrain, for instance, you can create activities, combine activities to create behaviors and design email templates that are triggered when a customer performs a particular behavior. Here are some of the behavioral targeting emails you can use to increase opens, clicks, shares and other engagement metrics. Don’t hesitate to get more creative and specific in creating emails with behavioral triggers.


4X4 Reengagement

The 4×4 Reengagement rule is great retention email for eCommerce businesses to use. The criteria goes that if a customer has bought products from you four times over four months and then disengaged for the next month – you send them an email with offers or recommendations to nudge them towards a sale.

Image: Boomtrain  

Why It Works: You aren’t using behavioural targeting to be creepy, and you have clear indicators of interest in your products from customers.


Post Purchase Follow Up

behavioral targeting email

Image: Heidi Cohen

The post purchase follow up is essential for brand recall and to improve your ideal buyer’s journey. The image from Heidi Cohen’s website shows us how to use a simple post-purchase follow up email to create brand recall (logo placed on top) ask questions about your product or service, offer help and include multiple calls to action.


Image: Boomtrain

Why it works: This email builds a sense of familiarity with your brand, and shows that you use behavioral targeting not just to drive the sale – but to get feedback and learn from customers as well.


Abandoned Cart

The abandoned cart email is one of the most basic emails an eCommerce business can set up. It reminds the customer about long forgotten tabs (we’ve all been there) and can also be useful if there were issues during a customer’s online shopping or checkout that made them abandon the purchase. Pro Tip: It’s good to have variations of the abandoned cart email template depending on the value of the customer’s cart.

Image: Boomtrain 

Why it works: Adding something to a cart is as good as a customer putting up a sign that says “I want to own this!” yet hesitation is inevitable – the email acts as a gentle reminder of what a customer already wants.

Signup/Opt-In Anniversary Thank You

behavioral targeting email

The anniversary thank you email is a good variation to the stereotypical birthday email. Here, you aren’t celebrating something that is only about the customer – their birthday – or pretending that you can actually make a big difference to their birthday with your email (when was the last time an email from a brand made your birthday feel complete?) but instead, you are celebrating something that you and your customer have created together. Their journey with your brand. This is a great email for publishers, eCommerce companies and travel websites to use, and a good opportunity to highlight the good parts of the customer’s journey with you thus far.


Image: Boomtrain 

Why it works: This email isn’t about your brand. It’s about all the steps a customer has taken with you, and a chance to thank them for it. Everyone likes to be thanked.


White Paper / Resource Download

A customer who downloads a resource or whitepaper from you is most likely interested in understanding your brand better, or considering investing in your services. In other words: They are officially a lead. Using behavioral targeting to nurture your leads helps you guide them along the path of discovering your services and resources until they are ready to make a decision about the sale. Sending different thank you emails to customers depending on whether they are active or non-active subscribers is a good way to begin nurturing process.

Image: Boomtrain 

Why it works: Sending an email as soon as someone downloads one of your resources can reinforce your position as an authority in the field. Here, you can also offer the opportunity for the customer to see more of your resources and engage them further.


The Advantages and Results of Behavioral Targeting

According the DMA, In 2014, emails triggered by behavior were responsible for 30% of revenue – up from 17% in 2013. Emails that use behavioral targeting are more likely to increase open rates, click thru rates and a customer’s overall engagement score. At Boomtrain, we personalize email content according to customer behaviors and interactions. The rise in engagement after sending personalized emails are measured using a ‘personalization lift’ metric. Measuring the changes that behavioral targeting brings to your email campaigns help you fine-tune your email strategy and further boost customer engagement.


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