5 Major Differences between Email Marketing and Marketing Automation

Today, a host of technologies have gripped the corporate world. Despite this influx, email marketing continues to remain a very popular and relevant marketing component. In fact, even today, nearly 87% of B2B marketers make use of email as a marketing tool [1]. Another noteworthy development in the field is marketing automation. Email marketing and marketing automation are two distinct parts of marketing. However, a lot of people believe that they are the same. 

To be fair, marketing automation and email marketing tools have a host of overlapping features. There are plenty of marketing platforms available in the market, and most of them claim to have some type of machine learning or AI feature. 

In this article, we will dive into the abyss of email marketing and marketing automation to understand the difference between the two. 

SEE ALSO: 5 E-commerce Marketing Automation Strategies to Remember in 2021

What is Email Marketing?

Email is a medium of communication and email marketing has got a lot to do with how emails are designed and delivered. Just how emails are a part of email marketing, email marketing is a critical part of marketing automation. 

Although both have emails as the primary mode of engagement, email marketing primarily focuses on the actions taken by recipients. 

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation software offers something different. These tools keep track of each digital interaction your potential customer has with your business. It collects every piece of information and makes an activity history that offers a 360-degree view of all your prospects and their digital breadcrumbs. 

Remember that email marketing is outbound only, whereas a marketing automation tool will allow you to create and manage SEO-optimized blog posts, landing pages, social media marketing, and tie them into all your outbound programs. 

Let’s hit the head of the hammer and further break down these concepts to understand the difference. 

1. Web Behavior Tracking vs Email Behavior Tracking

Email Marketing Workflow

Some of the major differences between marketing automation and email marketing spring from the nature of data collected by both types of tools. An email marketing software tracks the behavior of all the recipients that are part of your email campaign. In short, you can aggregate the data and determine what percentage of people opened your email, and what percentage did not interact with it.

However, the story is different from marketing automation. Apart from drawing email analytics, marketing automation offers much more. Every lead’s behavior can be easily tracked if they interact with your company on the internet. Marketing automation paints a clear picture of your lead’s journey through your funnel. This allows you to create better, relevant, and effective targeted campaigns.

2. Single Path vs Adaptive 

Email marketing requires a considerable investment of time on the front-end. The entire process involves the creation of emails, segmenting your audience, and post-delivery analytics. 

When you curate a campaign, an email marketing platform, some of the basic email marketing tools enable you to deliver emails to all the contacts on your list. Further, depending on the features of your email marketing tool, you may be able to deliver emails to different audiences. 

Even marketing automation needs time investment. However, the rewards are much higher than what you get with email marketing. Although you still need to craft emails, create segments, and strategize, you can build automated programs with more options. For instance, you can create drip campaigns that deliver messages over time, allowing your audience to engage with your website at regular intervals. 

3. Dynamic Lead Scoring vs Static Data

Marketing automation enables you to score your leads. On the other hand, an email marketing platform will only collect and store contact information provided by your leads. Hence, it is safe to say that it is unlikely you will extract any vital information with only contact information at your disposal. In most cases, you will have to integrate your email marketing tool with a third-party analytics tool to get a clear view of your leads.

This is not the case with marketing automation. Automation allows you to score your leads based on their intent and behavioral patterns. What is the advantage of scoring leads?

Check this stat out! A study by Marketing Sherpa revealed that the lead generation ROI of companies that scored their leads increased by around 77% [2]. There is no doubt that lead scoring allows companies to improve their conversion rate and overall profitability. 

4. Revenue Attribution vs Revenue Assumption

Email marketing tools do not allow you to map customer journeys or keep a record of them. You can use a CRM software to determine which leads have turned into paying customers. However, you will have little idea about how they became your customers and additional touchpoints they may have interacted with. 

Marketing automation allows you to record and track complete customer journeys. You can identify a customer’s path to purchase and actions taken apart from interacting with your email. 

5. Smart Follow-ups vs Basic Automation

Today, some of the best email marketing tools come with basic automation capabilities. For instance, scheduling email blasts is one of the best examples. Some advanced tools allow you to define segmentation rules, send messages based on time zones, and create nurturing programs with pre-built logic. 

Marketing automation tools skyrocket your automation with smart actions based on behavioral analysis. You can check out these interesting smart marketing automation examples to draw inspiration from. These tools can optimize the way you connect with your customers and also create suggestions for offline contacts such as direct mail or phone calls. 

What Solution Will You Choose for Your Company?

Email Blast from a Laptop

Email marketing and marketing automation platforms are both, highly beneficial. Each of these tools comes with some excellent features that can set the tone for your marketing campaigns. 

So, how do you decide which solution is better for your company? The answer to this question is simple. What you require will primarily depend on what you want to do with your leads before your sales team interacts with them. 

If your sales cycle is relatively simple and your leads do not require a lot of nudges, an email marketing solution should be your first choice here. However, if you want to nurture, score, and qualify leads based on how your potential customers interact with your brand, a marketing automation software is a perfect fit. 

What are you waiting for? It’s time to get the ball rolling.

SEE ALSO: 4 Key Points to Consider While Choosing an Email Marketing Service

Feature Image Source: ToolsMetric

Image 1 Source: Image by Tammy Duggan-Herd from Pixabay

Image 2 Source: <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/photos/technology”>Technology photo created by creativeart – www.freepik.com</a>


[1] Duo. M (2021) “20+ Must-Know Email Marketing Statistics (Use Data to Boost Your Email Campaigns)” Kinsta [online] Available from: https://kinsta.com/blog/email-marketing-statistics/ [Accessed September 2021]

[2] Arora. R (2014) “Mining the Real Gems from your Data – Lead Scoring and Engagement Scoring” Leadsquared [online] Available from: https://www.leadsquared.com/lead-scoring-and-engagement-scoring/ [Accessed September 2021]



Karandeep V

Karandeep V

Karandeep was born in Pune, Maharashtra, an upcoming metropolitan city in the Western region of India. While most members of his family are engineers, he had different ideas. He was more inclined toward exploring the non-technical aspects of a business, which is why he studied Bachelors of Business Administration at Symbiosis International University, Pune.  Having said that, his love for new and upcoming technologies remained intact, which is why he has written extensively about technology throughout his career. After a brief stint with a gaming company at the beginning of his career, he discovered that his love for writing was not temporary.  Being a tech geek, he always liked installing and playing around with new applications on his mobile devices and the home desktop. He was fascinated by how technology can simplify even the most mundane and complex tasks with just a few commands. He keeps a close eye on how businesses use different tools to streamline their operations to boost productivity and efficiency. At ToolsMetric, he writes product reviews that cover the main features and specifications of different enterprise applications. The sheer amount of innovation and hard work that goes into building these tech solutions is one of the reasons why Karandeep loves reviewing these tools. Besides product reviews, he also writes interesting news articles and blogs that track the latest developments in the tech industry.  When he is not writing, you can find him rooted to his seat playing video games, watching movies, or supporting his favorite football team. Since his childhood, he has always loved to travel and explore new places. Traveling is a major part of his life due to a myriad of reasons such as experiencing new cultures, food, and traditions. His other hobbies include playing football, cooking, and running.  You can find him on LinkedIn here.

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