Alex Melone
Alex Melone 14 November 2023

Marketing Emails vs Newsletters: What’s the Difference?

If anyone can clarify the difference between marketing emails and newsletters, it’s Alexander Melone, co-founder of San Francisco-based email marketing agency CodeCrew. But, as we’re about to find out, the distinction goes beyond formatting and word count.

In a Nutshell

Essentially, marketing emails are exactly that - campaigns that aim to sell a product or service. This is achieved by highlighting specific items and including clear CTAs throughout the text, directing recipients to product or sales pages to make a purchase. 

Newsletters, on the other hand, are more focused on value-added content and keeping recipients informed. Instead of sales being the main focus, a newsletter serves as a way to keep your audience updated on the latest goings-on in your business, as well as provide updates on specific products and services.

What Are the Main Differences?

In addition to the email’s intent, you can usually spot whether a campaign is a marketing email or newsletter from the following attributes:

Design: While marketing emails tend to be more design-heavy, newsletters usually rely on blocks of text. The reasoning here is simple: Design touches like product images and flashy GIFs are meant to evoke excitement in the recipient and entice them into making a purchase, while newsletter campaigns aim to inform so the text needs to be as uncluttered and as easy to read as possible.

Length: When selling a product or service, it’s always best to be concise. That’s why marketing emails are usually shorter in length. Newsletters, on the other hand, can be as long as they need to be, but don’t overdo it - you don’t want to bore your reader. 

Focus: Marketing emails rarely have more than one area of focus. If you’re marketing a new product or promotion, you’ll want as few distractions as possible. This is also where newsletters are vastly different as they tend to cover a wide variety of topics. 

Cadence: As a general rule, newsletters shouldn’t be sent more than once a month, while marketing emails have a much higher cadence. Of course, the industry you’re in will determine the cadence of a newsletter and it wouldn’t be unthinkable for a brand in a volatile industry (e.g. cryptocurrencies) to send out weekly or bi-weekly newsletters, but these are definitely the exception. 

Best Tools for Newsletters 

Speaking of cadence, if your business mainly focuses on newsletters, it means that you likely won’t need to send as many emails. Email Service Providers like Mailchimp would be a good option since they cater to smaller businesses with smaller budgets. Substack and MailLite are also two affordable, newsletter-friendly platforms worth exploring.

Which One Should You Use?

It all comes down to your business, industry, and intent. If you’re looking to keep your customers informed about what’s happening in your business, a newsletter is definitely the way to go.

It’s also a great way to position yourself and your business as an authority in your industry. Think of your newsletter as PR for your business. Additionally, if you run a B2B business, a newsletter is essential for keeping your suppliers up-to-date with product launch dates and restocks.

If you’re looking to drive sales, you’ll want to focus on marketing emails. These require a lot more strategy and insight, as they affect your business’s bottom line.

You’ll need to pay attention to segmentation, A/B testing, cadence, design, copy, and data analysis to ensure that your emails are reaching the right recipients and providing them with offers they’ll be interested in.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but these distinctions should draw a soft line between your informative and sales-focused messaging. Just be sure not to favor one over the other too much - a well-balanced email marketing strategy is crucial for good ROI. 

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