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Email marketing vs. Marketing automation

Email marketing vs. marketing automation – terms that are as complex as you make them. 

Every marketer is aware of these approaches; however, it’s still easy to get caught up in different marketing strategies. In fact, the mixed information out there about email marketing and marketing automation on the web doesn’t make it easy for a company that wants to implement either of the options.

Well, we know that these tools are here to help streamline your marketing process, but how exactly that’ll help your company? Let me break it down for you –  

  • Help you convert MQLs and SQLs into customers 
  • Staying connected with your customers at every touchpoint 
  • Communicating at the right time to increase the response rate 
  • Track performance to build stronger strategies 

Today, I’m going to shed light on the core difference between email marketing and marketing automation. Yes, both approaches are still prevalent and are helping businesses grow. 

But, which one is the right fit for your business?  

Well, you’ll only find out after you bifurcate these two. So, let’s first glance at these two marketing strategies individually so we can later compare them. 

What is email marketing? 

Email marketing is one of the most effective channels for promoting your business to your prospects and customers. In fact, it goes beyond the marketing perspective; you can connect with your users, engage with meaningful content and build strong relationships. 

 Email marketing enables you to inform your users about the company updates, any upcoming offers or run promotional campaigns to constantly engage with TOFT and bring them down the sales funnel. 

Email marketing has existed for as long as we can remember, and even now, it’s one of the most used communication channels between a company and its customers. Nearly 9 out of 10 marketers use email marketing to distribute content organically. Therefore, you can only imagine what impact email marketing has on a company that uses it compared to the one that doesn’t. 

What is marketing automation? 

Marketing automation is an approach that revolves around building connections with prospects and customers by delivering personalized user experiences and understanding their preferences. 

Here’s how marketing automation helps every business grow –  

  • The majority of marketers’ productivity is affected due to repetitive manual tasks. With marketing automation, 95% of the salespeople said they are getting more time for other essential tasks while automation does their manual activities. 
  • 93% of marketers also shared that their workload has been reduced by a considerable amount as they’re now able to automate multiple tasks. 
  • With a streamlined automation process for marketing campaigns, work feels easier for 93% of the marketers. 
  • 91% of salespeople found that they’re getting more time for the planning stage so they can execute better marketing campaigns in the future. 
  • You can only stay productive when you enjoy your work, and with automation, 87% of marketers feel that the work has become more enjoyable. 

Marketing automation takes away all your hassle of manual work by automating the entire marketing process. From connecting with customers to executing campaigns and scheduling meetings, marketing automation streamlines the work process with a series of trigger-based actions that go off when a condition is met. 

For instance, you can set-up automation for every time a prospect sign up. Upon completion of sign-up, the prospect will automatically receive an email with company information and resources. After that, you can set a delay and send a follow-up email; once you receive a reply, the prospect gets assigned to the lead, and a call gets scheduled. Yes, you can automate the entire process with marketing automation.

 76% of companies that implement marketing automation generate a return on their investment within a year. Interesting, right? Well, marketing automation is something you shouldn’t ignore if you want to grow and stand out from others. 

Factors to consider before making a decision 

Pricing plan 

The first step should always be to enquire about the pricing and plan of the tool you want to implement. Whether it’s email marketing tool or marketing automation, you need to consider the price and whether it’s value for money. 

If you’re a small enterprise, you need a marketing tool that’s affordable and scalable, so when your business starts growing, it can scale with the growth, and you don’t incur any extra charges. While you’re checking the prices, you should also look at the add-on plans, if any, to ensure you get what you’re paying for.

Intelligence and analytics 

A good marketing tool consists of smart analytics to measure performance. Both email marketing and marketing automation possess many variations, depending on the tool and its features. So, you need to ensure that the one you have your eye on is smart enough to make your work life easier, not the other way around. Find the one that offers analytics so you can track the progress and create a better marketing strategy. 

Ease of use 

Let’s be honest, any marketing tool a company adopts is mainly for their employees. And when we’re talking about an email marketing tool or a marketing automation tool, its sole purpose is to eliminate the dependency and automate the manual tasks. Therefore, it’s crucial to check whether your team is work around the software or not. 

Marketing goals 

Before finalizing any tool, you need to have a clear view of your marketing goals. If you want to focus more on email conversations, you must find an email marketing tool that helps you send bulk emails, track email opens and clicks, and provides actionable insights. 

On the other hand, if you have to tend to many clients, you can opt for marketing automation and set up triggers so the process will run automatically without any hassle. 

Difference between email marketing and marketing automation 

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” – Milan Kundera 

If we go with the above saying, every discussion we have about marketing – in any form – makes perfect sense. You need to stay innovative when you’re in marketing, and what’s better than addition automation into it? 

Well, before making any factual statement, let’s first take a look at the difference between email marketing and marketing automation so you can decide which one is ideal for your company. 

Behavioral tracking and web tracking 

When you’re using an email marketing tool, you get to track your emails and see how they’re performing with the help of personalized messages, email clicks and open tracking. This is called behavioral tracking, wherein you base your opinions on the actions taken on the emails you have sent. This method limits you to email tracking only; you cannot track your customer’s behavior on other platforms with your company. 

Marketing automation is versatile; you can automate your emails as well as other communication channels. It enables you to stay in touch with your customers on different platforms and understand their behavior to know which channel they prefer. Moreover, you can also track your visitors’ activities on your website to find out which product or service they’re interested in. Hence, it helps you get a complete view of your customer’s journey.

Basic information or lead scoring 

Email marketing tools usually have only basic information on your customers. Therefore, when you’re executing an email campaign, you’ll only have the contact information that the tool could fetch from the available source.

Marketing automation, on the other hand, stays connected with a customer at every stage; therefore, it contains detailed information on every client and can score your leads based on it. From their preferences to their actions, you can easily make predictions based on marketing automation data. 

B2C or B2B 

A B2C model is customer-centric, therefore email marketing works best for it. Whenever you want to provide any information to your customers, you can utilize an email marketing tool and send bulk emails by personalizing them. Moreover, email marketing is also one of the best ways to convey company updates and news to your customers. 

When we’re talking about B2B, it needs more nurturing and effort; hence marketing automation comes into place. In order to nurture leads, you need a reliable system that is alert at every step and a marketing automation tool that enables you to develop strong connections with your clients. 

Single emails vs. Smart automation 

Yes, scheduling and sending bulk emails is also automation; however, it comes with a limit. You can schedule email, track opens and clicks, and get detailed reports to track performance. This process certainly streamlines the communication process, but it won’t automate other aspects.

Marketing automation comes with a powerful set of automation and triggers that are not just limited to one channel. You can send emails, then automate follow-up emails or schedule activities based on the customers’ actions.

Common vs. Customer-centric engagement 

Want to send targeted emails? Well, the email marketing tool is the right choice. But do you want to set up drip campaigns, nurture leads, and have continuous engagement with clients? Then you need to opt for marketing automation for customer-centric engagement.


When you’re a small enterprise, you have a handful of clients to connect with, which means your automation also needs to be simple. You only need an email marketing tool to stay in touch with all your clients, and it also helps keep the communication process simplified.

Marketing automation is complex; as much as it streamlines your marketing process, it also needs attention as you need to ensure that every automation and flow you’ve created is accurate and will be executed smoothly. 

Sales Cycle 

When we are talking about marketing, it all comes down to one thing – the sales cycle. A shorter sales cycle means that the decision-making time is less hence perfect for implementing email marketing. Marketing automation is required when the sales cycle is longer and needs you to stay connected with your client at every touchpoint.

Email marketing vs. Marketing automation – which is best for your company? 

Now that we’re aware of the difference, you must be wondering, should I go with email marketing? Or marketing automation would be better? Well, fret not because we’ve simplified your decision for you we can end the debate of email marketing vs. marketing automation once and for all.

When you should consider email marketing –  

  • Want to create personalized content that connects with the audience and increases response rate 
  • Asking for feedback on your product or services to include customers in the decision-making process 
  • Having streamlined communication channel with customers and prospects to build strong connections 
  • Send targeted emails that intrigue your prospects to capture more high-quality leads 
  • Connecting with customers at the right time by tracking email clicks and opens  

When you should consider marketing automation – 

  • You have a long sales cycle and want to stay connected at every touchpoint 
  • Add value to your marketing campaign with a customer-centric approach 
  • Automate follow-ups and nurturing process to increase customer retention 
  • Having multiple products for different audiences 
  • Increase productivity and save the time of your team members 


As a growing business, you need automation by your side, and when you have options like email marketing and marketing automation, the work only gets easier. 

And when these tools are combined with the power of CRM, you can excel at marketing all while engaging with every prospect. So, with the fresh approach towards marketing, you get to deliver a personalized experience, increase team productivity and improve your ROI. 

Jainy Patel

Being an ardent reader and content editor, Jainy draws inspiration from every situation and story. She spends her time developing creative content to invoke the reader's interest. An ambivert with an interest in art, when she's not writing, you'll find her reading or occupied in a creative project.

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