Marketing Automation Vs Email Marketing

June 28, 2015

Article: Marketing Automation Vs. Email Marketing

Not your daddy's autoresponderAs technology races ahead, the days of your daddy’s autoresponder have been left in the dust. Today, if you are like most digital marketers you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s better for my business, marketing automation vs. email marketing?”

Ever since the first businesses started email marketing, sending the postal service into utter panic it has become quite clear that email marketing has several valuable virtues for business:

  • It is Incredibly Cheap
  • It is Powerfully Effective
  • It Scales Really Really Well

My History With Email Marketing

For years before I was the shining marketing automation specialist I am now, I spent a lot of time writing one off email blasts, or mini campaigns. These emails were the icing on my demand gen cake. I would generate leads via content marketing, SEO, and blasting our list twice a month without fail to reengage them for sales. I would average around 4.5 million emails per year and this would equate to about 20% of the total opportunities for our sales reps.

Since these were returning people who knew our brand (and pricing) I found that they were roughly 2x more likely to convert to a customer than a fresh lead.

Email marketing was very effective and was definitely there to stay.

As the sales department grew and became hungrier the stakes were raised further and further putting tons of pressure on the offer, subject line, the email text, and most importantly me. If my email fizzled it was two weeks of jeers and comments about how the sales team “had nothing to do”… If it worked out well, I was rewarded with a pile of glistening leads for the sales team to call on and I got to relax for a week, until I had to write my next hit.

There are many platforms out there ranging from ConstantContact (oh god…) and eCampaign (oh god x 10) to really solid tools like MailChimp.

There’s Got To Be A Better Way

My wife and I had just welcomed our first child, Zachary into the world and I got on the whole “evaluating my life” kick that many a new parent assuredly do. The pressure induced by having to hit two grand slams every month in the form of marketing emails was absurd and I knew there must be a better way.

Marketing Automation Can 10X Your Results, Burn Unwanted Belly Fat, And Reduce Wrinkles?!?

But Wait... There's More!

In my research I came across marketing automation and along with it a bunch of garbage on the topic leaving me searching “Marketing Automation Vs Email Marketing” and other things I now realize did not make sense.

“Simply put, marketing automation is taking the best of your current email marketing and making sure everyone new lead sees it.”

It took a while to register but having diligently kept stats of every email I sent I knew that there were good emails, and there were bad emails, and if I could get rid of all the bad ones and only send the good ones it would be very powerful indeed. While my first impressino

Nail It, Then Scale It

The easiest, and fastest way to implement any marketing automation platform is to take the best of what you have now and put it together in some logical series via an automation program. This is a great baseline that you can start to run and track how your leads interact with your content. From here I typically test and make sure everything is dialed in and targeted to the lifecycle the prospect is in. (As your campaigns mature they can get more and more advanced, but that is outside the scope of this article).

The 4 Types Of Emails You Can Have In Your Automated Follow Up Sequences

In all of emails I have sent via email marketing, or marketing automation campaigns they can be broken down into four categories:

  1. Opt In Triggered Emails
  2. Time Triggered Emails
  3. Event Triggered Emails
  4. Lifecycle Triggered Emails

In the following section I will give a little background on what each of these emails is.

Automated Email Type 1: Opt In Triggered Emails

The first type of email, and generally the most common is the opt in triggered email. This typically delivers a leadmagnet like an ebook, PDF resource guide, or a webinar registration link. These typically don’t need sophisticated software and can be sent out of your lead gen software (I use LeadPages).

Opt in triggered emails are among the highest opened emails you will ever send. After your prospect opts in on your website, they likely go to their email client and click refresh until the gift arrives. Make sure you don’t squander this opportunity and offer your prospect an ascension offer to move them down your funnel while you are front of mind.

Automated Email Type 2: Time Triggered Emails

The second type of email is a time triggered email. These are triggered as their name states, by time and can work in several ways:

  1. Time until an event is going to take place
  2. Time since an event has taken place
  3. Time since the user last took an action
  4. Time based on a user property (ie birthday, anniversary, birth of a child, etc)

Since these emails are very timely they typically leverage this by using the information in the subject line of the email, greatly increasing open rates.

“Your webinar is starting in 15 minutes…”

“Congratulations on the…”

“Name, we miss you!”

Automation Email Type 3: Event Based Emails

Second to leadmagnet delivery emails I have had huge success with event based emails. In a program like Hubspot an event based email is triggered when a user visits a certain page on your website, completes a survey, or some other non opt in event takes place. If some care is taken in writing the email open rates of over 70% are not unheard of.

A personal example is a campaign I put together while working with an online printing company. When leads visited the art specs page I would send them a short email with the subject line of “NAME, I hope this helps you with your design…” and a link to a post I wrote outlining some great free design resources they could use.

Since they were just viewing the art specs page chances are they were sitting down to design their print piece. When it comes to event based emails remember that behavior speaks volumes more than words.

Automation Email Type 4: Lifecycle Triggered Emails

Something that is often neglected to take into consideration is that marketing’s purpose is to generate demand, or help sell a product. Sounds crazy! But as marketers start reporting on open rates, click rates, and unsubscribes effectiveness often takes a back seat to these feel good metrics we report on each week.

To remedy this it is a great idea to build your marketing automation campaigns around the buyers lifecycle stage.

Marketing Automation Lifecycle Stages

(Subscriber, Lead, Qualified Lead, Opportunity, Customer, Evangelist)

 These stages can be determined by you, (I’ll go into this in another post) but the key is that things only progress forward. This provides you with a metric to determine the actual effectiveness of your emails. (ex. Prospects who left the lead category and progressed down the funnel)

A lifecycle triggered email or campaign takes place when a prospects lifecycle stage changes or is initially set. Programs like Hubspot have this functionality built in, while others like Infusionsoft take a bit of creativity to set up.

Marketing Automation Vs Email Marketing Final Thoughts

To recap the question of marketing automation vs email marketing is really a sign of a lack of clarity on the topic. (I was here as well years ago, no hard feelings…)

Marketing automation is merely a vehicle to make your email marketing cheaper, scaleable, and incredibly effective. Wrapped in metrics and by following some marketing automation best practices your results will skyrocket in a short time.

A parting thought is this… Remember that every time your write a great performing email, each person who subscribes after it is sent will never see it. Automation is the opportunity to put together your dream team of your best emails and make sure that every prospect who subscribes receives every one of them.


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