In parts one and two of this series, you learned all about the demographic and psychographic characteristics that make up your customer segments.

You know who your customer is and where they live, and what drives their core beliefs and values.

So, what’s the final piece of the puzzle?

Behavioral segmentation.

In the final installment of this three-part series, you’re going to learn how to influence, persuade and convert more leads into customers using behavioral segmentation.

What is Behavioral Segmentation?

Behavioral segmentation is the separation of customers by their consumer behavior and the way they buy. Companies do this by monitoring patterns such as loyalty, purchase frequency, and the benefit the customer seeks.

It is the marrying of a customer’s needs and the way they behave. Organizations can group customers based on these behaviors, allowing for more granular targeting.

pasted image 0

Often, these behaviors trigger events, which map to different stages of the marketing funnel. The aim is to understand how customers purchase and use products or services.

How Behavioral Segmentation Works

Let’s take a look at different behavioral categories, and how they can help your marketing efforts.

Unlike demographic and psychographic segmentation, these variables come from the ways your customers interact with your products and digital “real estate.”


“Occasion” is consumer purchase behavior based on a specific need or occasion. These occasions can be one-off instances or regular intervals over time.

Some “occasion behaviors” are universal among specific demographics. National holidays such as Christmas, for example, tend to see an increase in purchasing from a broad majority of customer segments.

Lifestyle and lifecycle stages define what makes “regular,” and “rare” personal occasions. A regular occurrence, for example, can include buying deodorant from the supermarket, or a vanilla latte from the same coffee shop every weekday.

Rare personal occasions include purchases like wedding gifts, vacations, and major life changes such as moving to a new house. Use customer insights to understand when your customers need your offering. Serve the right message at the right time for best results.


Here, you’ll segment your customers by how often they use your products and services. Usage will help you to decide on the frequency and nature of your marketing messaging.

Customer usage has three categories:

  1. Light: Can also be defined as “rare occasion purchasers.” Light usage customers are often one-off buyers or those who purchase when a brand offers a great deal. Brands sometimes offer first-time customers serve discounts and initial offers to remedy this.
  2. Mid-level: Tend to be customers who purchase for personal occasions, such as birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. Identify which customers are in this category to serve marketing messages when they’re most likely to buy.
  3. Heavy: These are considered those who have a regular need for what you offer, as well as loyal customers.

Our job as marketers is to nurture customers with low usage to become “heavy users.” Do this with strong customer loyalty and retention programs. You’ll learn some behavioral segmentation techniques to do this later.


Loyalty links the above principles together. While heavy usage customers have a habitual need for what you offer, loyalty is where they purchase from you and your brand.

Loyal customers will make up most of your revenue. Once you’ve acquired a customer and nurtured them to become loyal, the costs to keep them around are usually low.

Benefits Sought

Why do customers do business with you? What are the benefits your product or service brings them? The most important benefits will vary across your customer segments.

For example, some of Coca Cola’s customers buy Coke for the caffeine and energy boost it brings during the day. Whereas others identify themselves with the brand and wish to associate themselves with the lifestyle they stand for.

Figure out why your offering is important for each customer segment. Having well-defined personas will make this far easier, allowing you to create more effective marketing.

Customer Activity

The variables above cover the overall behaviors of your addressable market. However, it’s likely you have access to data on how your customers interact with your brand, as well as their purchasing behavior with you.

This data ranges from purchase frequency, lifetime value (LTV) all the way to the emails they open, and the products they view.

The next section of this guide will help you uncover this data and show you how to use it to serve the right message at the right time.

How to collect data and set up behavioral triggers

Now you understand what behavioral segmentation looks like. Let’s look at behavioral data to help you increase conversions and sales.

Using the techniques below, you can use the data you already have to generate results today.

Email Triggers

No matter what business you’re in, you can use behavioral triggers to send compelling emails that convince customers to take action.

Behavioral emails are automated, targeted emails that your contacts and customers receive based on their actions. Social media, website activity, and even previous email interactions can trigger these emails.

In the next section, you’ll learn more about effective triggers to persuade users to act. For now, here’s a three-part behavioral email strategy you can use in your business:

1. Track how users interact with you

To send great behavioral emails, you’ll need a CMS or marketing automation platform that can listen to and act upon customer actions.

These activities include:

  • Form submissions
  • Downloads (or opt-ins)
  • Content viewed
  • Time on site
  • Products viewed
  • Items left in cart
  • Social media activity
  • Email engagement

You can use this information to send emails based on the actions users take. Platforms such as Shopify, HubSpot, Marketo and Autopilot are examples of tools that can track these activities.

2. Decide which actions are most important

Behavioral emails are rarely a surprise, as the user is responsible for triggering them.

The question is, which actions should trigger certain emails? The answer depends on your business type and the priority of the action.

For example, a user who views a pricing page three times is considered lower down the funnel than someone reading blog posts. Therefore, you would want to prioritize this activity with email triggers that get the user to act.

Map activities to the sales funnel. Prioritize each activity and brainstorm ways you can persuade customers to act using email triggers.

3. Begin the conversation

You’ve identified user activity and prioritized them. The next step is to begin a conversation (or inspire action) using great email copy and design.

Successful behavioral emails sit in the sweet spot of these three areas:

  1. They’re personal to the user
  2. They’re timely
  3. They’re triggered by immediate user action

You’re providing a tailored experience for a specific customer segment. There’s no other customer segment quite like “you.” In other words, you’re automating a level of personalization that would take hours to craft at an individual level.

We’ll cover use cases, examples, and different triggers in the next section.

Mobile Push & SMS

Mobile notifications are an effective retention channel, especially if you tailor your shopping and user experience for mobile devices.

You likely receive push notifications on a daily basis. These are simply messages that pop up on your device, triggered by an app or mobile-centric website where you’ve permitted them.

Mobile push notifications can inform users of new features, in-app messages (e.g. new likes on a Facebook post), sports updates, and offers such as coupons.


Image source

Here are some objectives that mobile push can accomplish:

  • Improve the overall customer experience
  • Product of offer promotions
  • Transactional receipts and confirmations
  • Converting app users into paying customers
  • Guiding customers to other platforms, e.g., social media, blog, etc.

SMS notifications provide a similar experience but require having a customer’s cell phone number. If you don’t have a mobile app, this is the perfect substitute for reaching your users on mobile.

On average, 90% of all SMS messages are opened, which makes it a great channel for critical business messages.


Image source

Typical SMS use cases include two-way communications and actions the user must take (e.g., “your Uber driver is outside”).

How to use behavioral segmentation to convert more leads into sales

Now you understand the mechanisms of behavioral segmentation and the activities that users can trigger.

But it’s no use having activity data without acting on it.

To wrap up this guide, let’s check out some tactics and techniques you can use to convert more users and leads into customers.

These work for a range of business types, from ecommerce and digital learning all the way to SaaS and professional services. Take these principles with a pinch of creativity and apply them to your marketing.

1. Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment is where potential customers drop out on the checkout process for an order. According to Statista, 77.3% of all online retail orders are abandoned – i.e., left in the cart.

Reducing cart abandonment and bringing back prospects who have dropped off will have a big impact on revenue.

First, let’s look at ways you can prevent cart abandonment from happening in the first place:

  • Build trust: The fact that prospects have got this far means you’ve already demonstrated credibility. Now you must “leverage” this trust at the point of action. Ease last-minute concerns by demonstrating review scores, security logos, and reinforcing your shipping policy.
  • Reduce friction: According to a study by Baymard Institute, 61% of users felt that the top 100 ecommerce organizations asked for “unnecessary information.” Reduce friction by only asking for critical information and reassuring the customer’s details are safe.
  • Reinforce benefits: Remind customers why they desired your products or services in the first place. Remind them what they’re buying, information on free shipping (where applicable), and why you provide an awesome buying experience.

Even with these things in place, abandonment still happens. But fear not, our trusty behavioral email triggers will save the day.

Cart abandonment emails are messages sent to customers who go through the shopping process and leave without checking out.

Your cart abandonment emails must have these two elements:

  1. A reminder of what they left behind
  2. Compelling and creative email copy

Here’s a simple yet effective example of these two elements in action from FiftyThree:


Include other copy and design elements on top of these to pack an extra punch. Convert customers who are concerned about price by offering a discount.

In the example below, Nomad uses plain-text format with creative and personal copywriting to get the customer’s attention and compel them to act:


Scarcity is another persuasion technique you can leverage here. Illustrate how many items are in stock if there is only a limited amount left.

Need a cart abandonment email tool? Check out Jilt (which integrates with Shopify) and Rejoiner.

2. Welcome Messages

As the name suggestions, a welcome message is a simple email that greets new users and customers. It’s designed to get them onboard while setting expectations of the relationship.

At the very least, great welcome emails should have these three elements:

  1. Great copy: Welcome and invite your customer, informing them of what to expect
  2. Imagery: Reinforce your brand, appeal to visual learners, and create a more pleasant experience
  3. Call-to-action: What are the next steps? The call-to-action should provide value, get users to use your product, or guide them further down the funnel.

Here’s a great example of these elements in play by Zillow:


Make your welcome messages more effective by personalizing them. Personalization can be as simple as including their name, but should also include any information you have on the customer, e.g., downloaded PDF, signed-up for a tool, etc.

3. Inactivity

Inactivity emails are a retention strategy that keeps your customers coming back. Use them if customers haven’t purchased from you or used your product/service for a specific window of time.

There are three categories of inactivity:

  1. Initial inactivity: A customer has signed up for your service or ecommerce website, but hasn’t completed onboarding or made their first purchase
  2. Partial inactivity: A user only uses part of your app, or a customer doesn’t complete checkout
  3. Complete inactivity: A customer hasn’t engaged with you for some time or at all

Initial inactivity usually comes from a lack of onboarding. It’s important to get users to take the next step as quickly as possible, which is where welcome emails come in handy.

Twitter, for example, understands that users who complete filling out their profile are more likely to use the platform regularly. So, they send the following email to new users:


Partial inactivity means a customer or user hasn’t purchased from you in some time. Cart abandonment emails or in-app notifications can bring lost customers back to your website, app, and content.

Complete inactivity means customers haven’t purchased, logged in or even visited your website in some time. You can go in with a hard offer to compel customers to come back.

This example from Help Scout offers an extended trial of their product, including a customer testimonial to boost social proof:


4. Viewed Content

In some cases, users may not be ready to take action and are in “browsing” mode.

Sending behavioral emails based on the content they’ve viewed can quickly compel users to act. The example below from Airbnb shows an email sent a day after the user viewed a property:


Another example comes from Netflix, who make personalized recommendations based on other TV shows the user has watched:


These emails can work no matter what industry you’re in. If you’re in the media sector, you can tailor weekly newsletters to include content in the categories those users are most engaged.

The same goes for retail. Provide relevant and personalized offers based on the products customers browsed. Not just those they’ve abandoned during checkout.


Behavioral segmentation requires not only a deeper understanding of your audience needs but how they interact with your brand.

As you can see, behavioral segmentation can be automated. Rely on automation technology to send the right message at the right time. This is far more effective than defining your audience segments through persona documents.

Remember, to fully understand your customers; you must be able to segment them by demographic and psychographic characteristics. Use this understanding to build personas that lead to better marketing and a greater ROI.