Email Marketing Vs Marketing Automation

Which one is right for your business?

Your business is starting to grow. Based on your legwork and attendance at trade shows and other data collection vehicles you employ – you have started to build a direct way to communicate with your current and potential customers via an opted-in email list. Now you need to make sure you are using the right tool to ensure that your digital conversations with your email list run smoothly and effectively.

There are a number of different tools that you can be using for your marketing initiatives, most offering some variety of email, automation and analytics. Before you compare vendors you need to look at the base level in regard to your requirements and decide for yourself – what’s the difference between email and marketing automation and which is right for my business?

The answer is quite simple really, although both tools use email as their primary means of engaging with your audience, email will only track actions taken on the emails themselves. Marketing Automation software on the other hand, will track, monitor and score every transaction that your lead has with your business. And then provide you and your sales teams with a clear indication of their individual requirements based entirely on empirical data that their actions have generated.

Email marketing is strictly an outbound marketing tool. Essentially, you establish a message or promotion and/or reason to communicate with your audience. You build an email based off of a template and then blast that email to your list with the hopes that the message you are providing is in-line with their particular business requirements or current need. From an analytics perspective, you know as a marketer how many and to whom the emails were sent as well as how many were opened and clicked on and even what link was clicked.

Marketing Automation however, is more of a full-featured inbound/outbound tool that will integrate other marketing channels such as social media, landing pages and forms into your email campaigns – giving you a broader picture multi-touch marketing strategy. This multi-channel approach allows you to better understand your customer and their individual requirements and then execute campaigns that are specific to their personal business needs. A more complete analytics strategy will provide details beyond the email campaign specific to on-site patterns and trends. You can create and manage landing pages, forms and gated content areas to further understand your customers as well as prospect for new leads.

To understand it better, here are a couple of the key differences between email marketing and marketing automation:

Analytics and Behavior Tracking – the biggest difference between the two is analytics and behavior tracking. At the base level, email analytics track the behavior of the user within the email campaign in and of itself. Did the user open the email? Did the user click on the link? How many times did they click on the link? Which link did they click on? Essentially, you will know how many people you sent the email to that performed some type of action within the email and how many of them did nothing.

With marketing automation, you also get all of the benefits of email tracking as well as a more in-depth analysis of their behavior at everywhere they interact with your company on the web. Which landing page did they go to when they clicked on the email? What else did they look at on my site while they were there? Did they download a whitepaper or an eBook? Did they click on a CTA or an infographic? How many times did they visit my site over a period of time? And most importantly, did they make a purchase? This empirical data will architect a full and complete behavioral picture of your client’s journey throughout the sales funnel.

Lead Scoring – taking the concept of behavior tracking one step further, we can also integrate lead scoring into our marketing automation that will enhance and personalize the funnel based specifically on customer or lead provided information. The more a customer interacts with any of our digital or online properties, the more qualified that lead becomes and we can market specific to that customer’s individual requirements. Simply put, even though I sell both, why am I going to try and sell vacuums to my customer that is really looking to buy a blender?

Email marketing can only provide the information about your leads that you provide – meaning you are in most cases only going to have tombstone type information (name, address, mobile #, email address). With marketing automation, the lead information is provided as it is collected and based entirely on user behavior that depicts an unsolicited path through the sales funnel – your leads qualify and define themselves.

There are definitely advantages to both in any marketing strategy. Understanding the nuances and differences of each and what they can provide is important before making your investment – there are definitely a number of both email and marketing automation tools for you to investigate.

If your digital marketing strategy is more outbound based and single communication or monthly newsletters and promotions are what you require – then email marketing is probably perfect for your organization.

If, however, you are looking for a more of a robust inbound/outbound strategy that will nurture, score and qualify leads based on their brand engagement and behavior over and above just email campaigns – then marketing automation is definitely a worthwhile investment.