The one major difference between email marketing and marketing automation relates to how you leverage the data contained in your database of email contacts.

Email Marketing

An Email marketing program will allow you to collect email addresses, with your subsequent communication following a series of prepared emails which is common to all subscribers.

You may have included some qualification criteria on your landing page or web-page form to better target your desired audience.

However, once you’ve acquired your contact email address, that subscriber will follow the same path as other subscribers in your list – a series of emails, possibly personalized with their name, but getting the same emails with the same content as everybody else.

Process-wise, it may look like this:


And once they have received the same series of emails, what insight do you have that says a particular contact is a now a qualified prospect that should be turned over to Sales?

The challenge with this marketing approach is two-fold:

  • Your analytics are limited – you can see who opened your emails, and you might get a summary that they opened 2 of 4 emails, but developing actionable insights is manual and time-consuming.
  • You aren’t able to measure additional behaviour – after reading your email and clicking through to a page on your website, what else did they do? Did they visit other pages? Did they download other whitepapers or watch a video?

Marketing Automation

It is this second point (and the technology that supports it) that positions Marketing Automation as a more customizable and effective form of lead conversion over email marketing.

Marketing automation allows you to set up workflows for different types of prospect behaviour that builds on the initial prospect profiling.

For example, a B2B accounting VAR has manager-level contacts in their contact database. The majority of contacts meet the qualifying characteristics when they first filled the signup form for a white paper and newsletter subscription.

One contact has opened two emails and downloaded two whitepapers.

A second contact has opened the same two emails, downloaded whitepapers, but then:

  • visited the website resources page and downloaded another whitepaper,
  • clicked through to client testimonials page,
  • navigated over to the products features page.

Clearly, the second contact has made a larger investment in researching your company.

Marketing automation lets you to set up workflows and scoring logic to let you customize subsequent interactions with a contact based on how they have interacted on-line with your company.

Rather than a linear email program chain like the one shown above, a workflow might look like this:

marketing automation example

Marketing Automation lets you gain alignment between your Marketing and Sales departments.  If a prospect reaches a defined threshold of on-line interaction with the company that suggests high interest, Sales can act on that lead knowing it has been pre-qualified.

It also means you can develop accelerated paths to prospect interaction by delivering offers (such as a 1-on-1 demo or a webinar invite) to those contacts who are demonstrating a higher time investment in getting to know you and your solution.


  • Email marketing depends on initial contact profiling, then delivers a common set of messages to the prospect database over time.
  • Email marketing gives you a basic set of tools to connect on an ongoing basis with your database, but has limitations on tracking individual behaviour and delivering a customized experience.
  • Marketing automation incorporates email marketing functionality, then expands on it by customizing content interactions through logic workflows and superior analytics.
  • Marketing Automation leverages a prospect’s behaviour to better align with your content and messaging and accelerate their conversion from prospect to client.

Next Steps

To better understand how email marketing or marketing automation can help your B2B lead generation efforts, Let’s talk