What Is the Difference Between Email Marketing and Marketing Automation?

Kyle McCarthy Kyle McCarthy
Marketing Automation

You’ve probably heard the buzz around marketing automation but are wondering why you need to invest in it if you already have an email service provider (ESP). Although marketing automation platforms and ESPs have many of the same features, marketing automation is designed to help you go beyond email marketing to provide customers with a more tailored and unique experience, improving your engagement rates and ROI. 

ESP to Marketing Automation

Sure, things might be going just fine with your ESP platform, but why settle when there’s a better alternative? Marketing automation can help you move beyond random one-off emails to deliver your target audiences with a more personalized and holistic customer journey. By drastically enhancing the customer journey, you can expect improved engagement and even better results while saving your organization time and resources. Who doesn’t want that? 

If you’re not convinced, keep reading to learn a few key ways marketing automation helps you go beyond email marketing. 

Move Beyond Random Acts of Marketing Through Segmentation and Personalization 

Savvy marketers know that marketing is not a one-size-fits-all deal. While one email message might inspire one customer to open, read, and engage, the same email message can motivate another to delete it or unsubscribe from receiving communications from you altogether. That is because different customers will want different things based on their specific pain points and where they are in the sales funnel. You can also expect different recipients to need different tools and resources to help them make a decision based on criteria such as industry, pain points, job title, preferences, and budget — just to name a few. In order to gain that final sales conversion, it is your job as a marketer to segment your customers and deliver them targeted and relevant content that keeps them moving along from one stage of the sales funnel to the next. 

While segmenting your audience and delivering targeted messages is possible through an ESP, the manual process involved in those outdated platforms is very labor-intensive and prone to error. The many hours involved in exporting and importing lists might not be worth the effort when you only see a small spike in improvement. 

The great thing about marketing automation is that it allows you to do this better and with much less effort. For example, Act-On has adaptive segmentation which enables you to automatically move contacts into tightly targeted list segments as you find out more about them and they meet certain criteria. As they do, you can automatically enter them into automated nurture campaigns to ensure they receive relevant and useful information that will keep them engaged and motivate them to take action sooner rather than later. 

But why stop there? With marketing automation, you can replicate this personalization beyond email so you can improve your marketing and see better results across the board. You’ll gain valuable insights that will enable you to develop more targeted landing pages, forms, and content.

Deliver the Right Message at the Right Time

Email marketing success is highly dependant on sending the right message to the right person at the right time. Marketing automation platforms allow you to send behavior-triggered messages, such as onboarding emails, that are automatically launched whenever your contact fills out a form, downloads an asset, or completes any other action worthy of a follow-up. 

Act-On’s Adaptive Sending takes this practice one step further by tracking each contact’s behavior and learning their preferences, enabling you to email each individual in your database at the most optimal time. 

Improve Your Ability to Track ROI and Enhance Your Email Marketing Efforts

It’s easy for our email marketing efforts to remain stagnant when we don’t have the insights and resources to figure out how to make them better. While ESPs might provide you with a limited overview of what’s working, the results you gather simply aren’t granular enough for you to make significant improvements. 

Making Marketing Automation a Reality

Marketing automation enables you to perform A/B Testing on everything from subject lines, CTAs, email design, copy, and more — so you can pinpoint which email elements are catching your audience’s attention. You can use the insights you collect to make your emails better and better each and every time. 

We practice A/B testing ourselves here at Act-On and meet every few weeks to review our results and talk about how we can enhance our future email marketing efforts. We recommend you do the same on a regular basis, even if it just means updating a subject line or CTA that did not perform as well. 

Target the Best Opportunities Through Lead Scoring

Even if you’re seeing leads coming through the door thanks to your email marketing efforts, you should be asking yourself how you can continue to improve. How do you know what else they need? Where are they in the sales funnel? Are they ready to talk to Sales? Piecing this information together is difficult when all you have is open and click-through rates gathered through your ESP.

Marketing automation gives you greater visibility into the status of your leads by allowing you to identify criteria that indicate when a lead is ready to move to another stage in the customer journey and then score your leads accordingly. Lead scoring not only allows you to keep track of where prospects are in their journey, but it also improves your ability to transfer the most qualified leads to your sales team so they can focus on the best opportunities.  

Empower Your Sales Team to Have More Impactful Conversations

One of the most valuable aspects of marketing automation is that it enables you to provide each target customer with a personalized buying experience. That means that you have the tools and insights to deliver targeted solutions from the moment your contact first becomes known to when they’re ready to chat with a member of your sales team. 

Marketing automation integrates with your CRM so that your sales team is able to gain a detailed view of your target customer’s behavior and engagement history, empowering them to appeal to their specific pain points and product interests. This leads to better collaboration between marketing and sales and, in turn, helps your salespeople close more deals, all while allowing you to attribute marketing ROI. When was the last time your ESP helped you do that?

Marketing Automation Success Is Closer Than You Realize

Let’s be real. Investing in new technology is not a decision that comes easy or cheap, and it’s hard to part with your ESP, even if it’s not getting the job done. With the right knowledge, tools, and strategy in place, however, you can make sure you’re generating the best return from your marketing automation investment from the beginning. 

If your organization is considering marketing automation and wants to start off on the right foot, you should check out an eBook that we wrote with our friends at London Research. It’s appropriately titled “Making Marketing Automation a Reality” and gives a comprehensive but easy-to-follow overview of how and why to implement marketing automation.

We also interviewed several high-profile digital marketing thought leaders, and their views and advice are threaded throughout the resource to help you make better, more informed decisions about the next step in your digital marketing journey.

Check it out below!

Making Marketing Automation a Reality