The business world is full of terminology that more and more customers want clarified so that they know in which direction to move. Thus, they often ask questions about the differences of certain concepts about which there is a wealth of conflicting information out there and need clear explanation.

This category includes E-mail Marketing with Marketing Automation. Therefore, here is a full presentation of both terms, so that you know in detail their characteristics and do not confuse them.

E-mail Marketing refers to the use of e-mail to promote and inform the buying public about the products and services offered by the advertiser.   Instead of brochures, i.e., letters and coupons by mail, e-mails are used to convey the same message, while simultaneously measuring the impact of campaigns.

Marketing Automation is the automation of marketing functions. This is a promotional tactic that uses software and technology applications to automate specific tasks to increase efficiency and personalize experiences. Thus, companies can target the right customers with automated – and pre-designed – messages via e-mail, social media and the internet in general.

The 4 main differences between E-mail Marketing and Marketing Automation are related to:

  • Complexity
  • Sales cycle
  • B2B vs B2C capabilities
  • Behavior monitoring


  1. Complexity

If you’re a small business on a tight budget, chances are you don’t want to create complex marketing campaigns, and you don’t have to. As long as you understand your customers and create personalized content that matches their profiles, you can run highly effective email marketing campaigns.

Automated marketing campaigns, on the other hand, are much more complex than email campaigns, as they involve a plethora of channels and techniques that you need to manage simultaneously. This can lead to better results, but it’s only worth investing in if you have time, skills, and money to dedicate.


In case you are just starting out and you can’t track customer behavior across all channels, getting the right information to optimize campaigns, we recommend sticking to email marketing.


  1. Sales cycle

The sales cycle for different products varies, and each requires a different approach. If you’re selling high-cost items (e.g. TV), then you’ll need to spend more time convincing customers to buy.

Automated marketing is best suited to such larger sales cycles, where customers interact with the business multiple times and need more information and time to think before buying.


E-mail marketing, by contrast, is ideal for quick decisions and lower-value products, as customers can get all the information they need from a quick e-mail. They can also pick up your e-mails while standing in a store queue and decide to buy your product on the spot.


  1. B2B vs B2C capabilities

Marketing Automation not only fits into the longer sales cycles you typically see in B2B agencies, but it also works best for businesses that have dedicated sales teams.

Marketers who work for a B2C company often interact with potential customers in a limited way, such as emails. They encourage them to purchase the product by directing them to the website or store to complete a purchase. In modern E-mail Marketing systems, in fact, there is also different content in e-mails, such as customer reviews and cart abandonment.

B2B companies, by contrast, have sales teams that often deal with a plethora of touchpoints. B2B salespeople normally interact with leads multiple times throughout the sales cycle, and there’s a lot to keep track of, so they need an automated marketing system.


  1. Behavior monitoring

E-mail Marketing monitors the performance of e-mail campaigns.  It provides insights into what makes a campaign successful and what you need to do to improve underperforming campaigns. And while you can personalize content according to information like the type of email customers open, you can’t imagine the number of touchpoints they might have with your company. What is certain is that a customer’s journey towards buying a product rarely involves only one channel and is not linear.

Automated marketing systems help you track customer behavior across multiple channels and design targeted campaigns based on that information (e.g., which channels customers prefer). These include your website, social media channels, store systems, and any ads you serve.

You can also use automated marketing tools to automatically trigger emails or other behavior-based marketing messages. For example, if a customer just bought an item, you can send them an SMS with a customer survey.


Choose the tool that suits your business

Both E-mail Marketing and Marketing Automation come in all shapes and sizes, from a simple e-mail tool to a fully developed automated marketing platform that can help your company manage large-scale campaigns.

You can focus solely on email marketing by using a tool that helps you create automated email campaigns. Alternatively, you can use your email marketing solution in conjunction with other marketing software, such as an ad management platform and social media marketing tool.

You can also choose an email customer relationship management solution that helps you get to know your customers, or a system that does it all. When you have to decide, we encourage you to think about the unique needs of your business.

Here are some questions to consider when choosing:

  • What’s your budget?
  • How much time can you spend creating marketing campaigns?
  • What are your marketing goals?
  • What experience does your marketing team have with the two systems?
  • How long are your company’s sales cycles?
  • What promotional channels do you want to use?

After thinking about the answers to these questions, then you can begin the search process. At this stage, we encourage you to refer to the information we have presented to you in order to narrow down your options.