Email marketing vs. marketing automation: what’s the difference?

Email marketing and automation in financial services

Hayley Dawson

Senior Account Manager

Posted on April 11, 2016

There is a common misconception amongst financial marketers that automated email marketing is the same thing as marketing automation. Because of the similar language used, you’d think we were pedantic by distinguishing the two, but underestimating their significant difference is holding many financial organisations back.

The limitations of email marketing

Email marketing involves using broadcast software to send emails to a group of people to communicate a particular message and a call to action. Prepare your email in advance and automate that process to send emails at specific dates and times, and you’re going to save yourself a lot of time, but in terms of lead generation, it’s only going to get you so far.

Email marketing relies primarily on luck. You take a chance that the person you target will firstly be glad to receive your email, secondly, decide to open it, and, thirdly, read it and respond. That’s a lot left to serendipity, which, when marketing teams are expected to deliver results, is a big gamble.

As a marketing strategy, email marketing is both isolated and isolating. In a recent Email Marketing Benchmark survey, 55% of marketers reported that making email marketing work well with their other marketing channels was a very significant challenge.

Marketing automation provides the solution to take businesses much further. It moves beyond the surface potential of a marketing email and incorporates specific, planned strategies to turn leads into sales, integrate multiple marketing channels seamlessly, and achieve a tangible return on investment.

How is marketing automation different?

The overall aim of marketing automation is to nurture prospects with highly personalised, useful content with the goal of turning them into customers. It differs significantly from email automation in that involves segmentation, integration, and multifaceted, targeted content.

Marketing automation utilises software like HubSpot to simplify and organise the entire digital marketing process, carry out timed actions on your behalf, and monitor and analyse ongoing activity. More than just a software system, however, it requires and relies upon, a steady stream of high quality, personalised and relevant content – namely, an inbound marketing strategy.

If we think of email marketing as a single hosepipe, then marketing automation is an entire irrigation system. It doesn’t just nurture leads more successfully; it actually makes the market ground you’re working with more fertile. Done right, it can save you a lot of time and energy and markedly increase the fruit of your marketing labours.

How do I know if I need it?

Run through our checklist to find out:

  • Are you broadcasting emails and seeing little or no return?
  • Is your current email open rate and click-through rate lower than you would like?
  • Are you hoping to increase the number of quality leads you can pass onto your sales team?
  • Do you have a single or limited content plan that only targets one group or type of customer?

If you’ve answered yes to any or all of these, then it would very much be in your business’s best interest to explore what marketing automation means, and start adopting its techniques.

How we use marketing automation

Talisman are inbound marketing specialists and, through our work with the financial industry, continue to perfect our use of marketing automation to improve our own marketing and to solve the marketing challenges of our clients.

By offering premium content to our prospects, we’ve built a database of organic leads that we’re able to nurture through our use of marketing automation software, HubSpot. By qualifying and gauging the interests of our audience based on their digital behaviour throughout our site and our other communication channels such as social media, we’re able to prepare and send personalised, relevant content to the right people at the right time.

We currently have five different content plans operating behind the scenes that regularly engage over 200 prospects. This has led to a marked increase in interest, calls, meetings and sales, and we’ve seen a knock-on improvement across all other aspects of our inbound marketing efforts, including our blogging, social media and SEO.

How do I find out more?

We talked through the specifics of marketing automation and its potential benefits to financial organisations on our blog recently in this quick guide to flawless automated marketing.

You could also read our walkthrough of the different automated marketing platforms available, or download and read our simple introduction to inbound marketing for the financial sector in our free white paper.

Of course, you can always come and ask us directly! We’re always happy to have an informal chat and offer you the benefit of our experience, so if you have a question, do contact us.