Why Behavior Triggered Email Marketing is Changing the Email Delivery Landscape

Michael Batalha
11 min readJan 19, 2021

Is behavior triggered email marketing the future of all your marketing endeavors? Well yes and no, kind of. It actually depends on whether you understand how and why we even use behavior-based-marketing. If you simply utilize it as a “cool feature”, it will do nothing for you.

In order to get why behavior-marketing is the next stage in the evolution of email-marketing, you first have to understand why email-marketing evolves at all. It has to do with a simple concept I’d like to call “the ideal email experience”. Behavior based email marketing is just the next evolutionary step bringing us closer to that goal.

Ask yourself, how would perfect email marketing look like? From the very first email that a subscriber gets, all the way to the email that makes them buy? We’re talking in a hypothetical imaginary (if anything was possible) way. Can you imagine it? Well, ideally your emails would be as good as if an experienced sales and marketing team was custom-crafting those emails

They would do this manually and specifically for that person, on a one-to-one basis. Tailoring each email specifically based on that person’s journey and touchpoints they’ve made with marketing and sales.

All automated email marketing evolution is in a sense an attempt to get closer to that goal.

The path that lead us here

This attempt to reach “ideal marketing” has led to all major advancements in marketing. In a sense, it has all been a journey trying to get to the idea of the “perfect (segment of one) personalization” point. That’s a point where email marketing is so personalized that every email sent is unique to that unique individual, as is the order, timing and frequency of those emails.

The most obvious first step to that is the ability to have multiple email lists. Instead of having one big database and everyone getting the same emails, the first advancement in email marketing was to let marketers place people in different lists.

You can think of these as “very broad segments based on a single criteria”, as that’s how they are used. So a newsletter might separate people into lists for people interested in weight loss, vs people interested in muscle-building and send different broadcasts to each.

The birth of personalization

Then, we got into initial basic personalization such as the ability to refer to someone by their first name. I think you see how that brings us closer to how a human being (or sales person) would manually email a potential customer.

Then, over time we started realizing the power of finer segmentation as a way to get closer to that ideal of “perfectly personalized” emails. This is where we (technically) separate people into smaller lists (segments are lists, we just don’t call them lists). And segments are typically based on finer and narrower criteria, and we typically use multiple criteria in defining a segment.

In practice, advanced marketers were manually creating their own segments using lists way before we even used the terminology. They would split and slice their lists to narrow and more defined lists. Email segmentation is a term that just came along to make the concept more accessible to more marketers.

And speaking of making things more accessible, that’s why we came up with automation

A lot of people misunderstand the point of automation. You need to think of it as merely a way to speed up and make it easier to do the stuff that brings money.

Automation is there to (for example) make finer segmentation easier and more efficient. It is not automation that increases your sales, it’s better segmentation that boosts your profits. Automation is just a way to improve your segmentation without having to hire 20 people to manually segment people to such finer levels of segmentation.

To learn more about using automation to segment and personalize things on autopilot, read our ultimate guide to automatically converting leads into paying customers.

The birth of behavior-based triggers in email marketing

As we started using ever more complex segmentation, we realized something. It would be a lot more effective if we treat people differently as soon as possible.

Rather than waiting for a person to buy a product on weight loss, and then moving them to the segment for people interested in weight loss, why not do this based on other interest indicators?

Most people show signs about how they want to be treated from the moment they get your first email. Do they open more of your “weightloss” emails, or more of your emails concerning “fitness”? Do they click on more of your links promoting a weight loss article, or those linking to an article on muscle-building?

This is where “triggers” became a new and crucial concept in email marketing. A trigger is simply the event that causes something to happen automatically in your email marketing. Whether that’s placing the person into a new segment, automatically sending them a different email or launching a different drip-campaign sequence.

To be clear, we’ve always had triggers in email marketing, since day one. It’s just that we were only limited to a couple of them, and we didn’t call them triggers. For example “when a person gets added to a list” would have been a trigger for the autoresponder that sent a sequence of emails (drip campaign).

And finally, the latest level in behavior-based triggers — the birth of “events” as triggers in email marketing

Behavior-based email marketing is super powerful even when it’s based just on behaviors relating to the emails themselves. This includes things such as “opening email”, “clicking email link” and “forwarding email”.

This is how most behavior-based email marketing is done, but it doesn’t cover all relevant behaviors that your leads can engage in. If one of your subscribers thinks of you and goes to manually open your website and goes to the pricing page, this is a significant event.

If you’re only basing automations on triggers coming from behaviors inside of your actual emails, you’re missing out on great opportunities.

This is why the latest development in email marketing has been the introduction of “events” as triggers. And let me point out that we were using events long before we started using the terminology of “events” as a feature.

When someone joins your list, that’s actually an event — a “joined list” event. And that event can act as a trigger. We’ve had this option since day one. In fact the earliest email marketing software only had this one single trigger as the way to start a sequence.

When someone opens your email, that’s also an event. And we can use that “opened email” event as a trigger to send an email or email sequence. The same is true when someone clicks on a link in your email — a “link clicked” event.

However, when we talk about events today, we typically mean something beyond that

We’re typically talking about “custom defined events outside the ones inside of emails and email marketing software”. This means when we go beyond just “add to list”, “open email”, “click link”. In practical terms, most often this refers to website events. For example, when a person visits a specific page on your website.

This is typically used to build an automation, as such:

  1. You go into your marketing automation platform, and under events define that URL as “visited pricing page” event.
  2. And then, you go into the automation builder, and put in an “on event” trigger, where you choose the “visited pricing page” event.
  3. And now you can build out the rest of the automation from there on. It might be giving that person a tag, moving them to a different segment, sending them a special offer, pinging a salesperson to contact them, or any of a number of things.

Why behavior based email marketing is the future

“Drip marketing” is the old way — where you create a sequence of steps based on certain time points. For example 1 day after signing up they get this email, then a week later they get this other email, and so forth.

Also, in the old-school method you only segment people based on big events like purchasing a product. Whereas today, with the help of automation and events we can segment based on a lot of different behaviors. We don’t have to wait for a big event like a purchase.

And yes, an advanced marketer can make a killing utilizing only “drip marketing” and crude segmentation. However, the fact is that eventually, his competition will beat him. His competitors will eat his lunch if they master behavior-based marketing. It’s just a matter of time.

Why? Think of it in this way. It’s all about reacting to a person’s indicators in real time

This is because ideal subscriber engagement is kind of like ideal face-to-face selling (or even courtship). You respond to a person’s body language cues, objections, and signals as they happen. For example if a person voices an objection, you respond or adjust because of it. You don’t just continue the pre-planned script like a robot.

In real-world sales if a person shows an above-average excitement you don’t just continue performing the “convincer” script. Why would you continue with the script that outlines the 10 things you need to say in order to convince them. You have already convinced them! You need to cut it short, or risk losing them due to overselling. The same holds true for ideal email marketing.

You want to avoid non-responsiveness and robot-like adherence to pre-planned scripts. And this is where events and event-based triggers come into the picture. They allow you to respond to the person’s behavior in real-time and get as close to “face-to-face selling or marketing” as possible.

The practical examples and possibilities are endless and depend on your specific business

Do you run an SAAS or any kind of online membership business model? If so, you will want to trigger emails based on people’s engagement with your product or service. That includes having an intelligent onboarding process. One that emails them based on how much they use your service and in which way.

And if you run an ecommerce business, you can implement an abandoned cart email sequence. Or, if a person browses a specific category of products, this can be defined as an event. You can then use this event as a trigger for an automation which sends them a special offer from that category. Easy enough with an automation builder like ours.

But it doesn’t stop there. If you sell anything at all, you can and should define certain events as indicative of heightened interest.

  • For your specific business it might be that a person views your pricing page. This can be a trigger that initiates an automation. The automation can then send them an automated email, or ping someone on your sales team to contact them manually.
  • Alternatively, it can be showing interest in a specific product of yours, and using that to enter them into a special sequence that nudges them toward a sale.

The examples above are just “first-level” examples, we can get a lot more sophisticated

It’s different if your typical customer goes through a longer and more sophisticated journey. In that case, you may go ahead and split up that journey into multiple stages.

You would then define events that signify a stage has been “completed” or that a person is ready for the next stage. And then you can use those to trigger different stages in your automation.

Be careful though, behavior triggered email marketing can hurt you

At Emercury we believe that events and event-triggers are the future, and this is why we’re investing heavily in them. In fact, it might be one of our biggest investments this year.

However, I also know for a fact that I can take a person who only has access to the “lower levels” of behavior-based marketing, and I can train them to beat 99% of people utilizing fancy custom-event-triggered automations.

If you truly understand the psychology behind engaging people, you can produce some amazing email marketing. Even if you only utilize “email opened” and “link clicked” events. And you would fare much better than someone who has set up a gazillion custom events on their website.

Have that in mind before you rush into custom events, and please first take your time to “get” why we do certain things in email marketing.

This is where Emercury comes in

I know that doing things the right way is “easier said than done”. This is often the case if you’re using an inferior email provider.

You see, most email marketing providers are nothing more than a box of “features”. Their support teams are just technical operators supporting the software side of things.

If you want the latest and fanciest way to automate off of the latest type of trigger, they have you covered. But if you want to actually know when to use what trigger and for which type of audience, you’re pretty much out of luck.

We here at Emercury take all of that and flip it on its head. When you join Emercury you get an actual partner who wants you to succeed at email marketing. We do more than just provide the tools. And in fact we’ll often dissuade you from rushing into the latest fad if it’s not the most profitable action you can take with your list at that given time.

If you want to get a glimpse into this phenomenon, glance all of our five-star reviews and notice a pattern. Or, you can go ahead and book a demo over here . You’re also welcome to contact us, or go ahead and grab a “forever-free” account while we still offer those.

Hint, we’re in the process of some major restructuring and upgrades. This means that the lifetime free option might just go away soon. So grab an account while the “ free-for-lifetime “ option still exists.

Michael Batalha helps email marketers with strategies getting the most return out of an email address. He does this using his Maximize Delivery Framework (tm). He has successfully created his own lead generation platforms and leveraged email to scale his own leads and now shares that same method he has used with other email marketers.

He has successfully created numerous startups and sat on the board of the Entrepreneur Organization. He has graced the pages of Forbes and Fortune and has a real passion for working with entrepreneurs and building businesses.

Follow him on twitter @mikebatalha for tweets on awesome marketing tips.

Originally published at https://www.emercury.net on January 19, 2021.



Michael Batalha

I help businesses succeed in Email Marketing | CEO & Founder of Emercury | Entrepreneur | Speaker | Proud Father