The Differences Between Email Marketing and Marketing Automation

While exploring different marketing tools and platforms, you’ve likely come across email marketing platforms and marketing automation platforms. Both of these typically have email marketing and marketing automation functionality, so it might be confusing to decipher what the differences are between them and whether you actually need them. In this post, we’re going to look at the differences between email marketing and marketing automation, as well as which one to choose.

Illustration on email marketing and automation

What is Email Marketing?

Let’s start with email marketing platforms. Email marketing platforms allow you to build a list of email subscribers and send them regular email messages. The two typical email messages sent through email marketing platforms are the following.

  • Autoresponders – Automated emails that are sent when people join a specific email list.
  • Standard Campaigns – Individual, one-time emails sent to a specific email list or segment of your email list.

Standard campaigns include everything from text-based emails to fancy, HTML newsletters. They allow you to reach your audience through email with valuable information, news, and promotions.

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What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation platforms allow you to automate specific aspects of your marketing. Specifically, this is done through the use of triggers and emails campaigns. Marketing automation can include, but are not limited to, the following.

  • Shopping cart abandonment emails. When someone has a registered account on your website or is a subscriber on your email list and doesn’t finish a standard checkout process, it triggers an email reminder to that person to remind them to finish their purchase. Some email marketing platforms are also able to do this.
  • Onboarding emails. When someone has signed up for a free trial of a platform, it triggers a series of emails to help that person get to know the platform so that they are eager to upgrade to a paid subscription once the trial is finished. This can also be accomplished through traditional email marketing platforms by adding free trial users to a new email list with a specific autoresponder series setup.
  • Follow-up emails. When someone visits a specific page on your website and is a part of your customer database or email list, it triggers an email following up about the content they consumed. Some email marketing platforms are also able to do this.
  • Click automation. When someone clicks on a link within an email campaign you send, it triggers an email or series of emails created by you relevant to what the person clicked. Some email marketing platforms are also able to do this.

There are hundreds of uses for marketing automation, and depending on your platform, they go beyond sending emails based on a specific trigger. For example, some platforms will allow you to automatically segment or tag people who go to specific pages on your website, click specific links in your email, or take other actions. This allows you to categorize your email list and target future emails to the right targets.

Who Needs Email Marketing and Marketing Automation

While marketing automation is amazing, marketing automation systems can be complex to create. It is mostly because you have to define your triggers and create a lot of messaging from the start.

Most small businesses that simply want to send email messages to their subscribers and customers will want to start with traditional email marketing platforms like Aweber, MailChimp, GetResponse, Constant Contact, and others. In addition to being easier to setup and use, they are much less expensive than full-on marketing automation systems.

For ecommerce owners that know they want to remind their customers to make a purchase and marketers who want to create a hands-off system that generates revenue 24/7, marketing automation is something to consider. Platforms like ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, Infusionsoft, and others include a strong mix of marketing automation and email marketing features, so you don’t have to choose a marketing automation platform plus an email-marketing platform. Some also include ecommerce features and functionality, eliminating another area of software to manage.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are great options for both email marketing and marketing automation. The key is to figure out what you need for your business now, and to look at additional options for the future!

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