There are three basic types of email marketing services, representing three fundamental approaches to email marketing. This is why it is misleading to lump the different types of products and services together, and why it is so easy to become confused about what works and what doesn’t.
In this article we will break down all of the different types of email marketing service, explain the assumptions that they operate under, and look at the reasons why they are or are not effective.

1. Spamming

When a lot of people think about email marketing, they imagine getting in contact with an email marketing firm that maintains a massive “opt-in” list. They imagine that this firm has a secret ingredient that makes millions of people open to the idea of receiving marketing messages from anyone willing to pay.
This first type of email marketing service is what we refer to as “spam,” and it basically means you are hiring someone to send out junk mail to a random list of email addresses for you. The return on investment with this type of service is going to be extremely low, because the people who are receiving your marketing emails will generally wish that they were not receiving them.

2. Email Advertising

The next type, which we’ll call email advertising, is the much more legitimate and reliable cousin of spamming. This is generally done through real and reputable marketing firms, who will set up advertising contracts to place your marketing messages inside of emails sent by publishers to established mailing lists.
For example, say you subscribe to a magazine that sends you a weekly update by email. You may have noticed that there are advertisements in those emails just as there are advertisements in the magazine itself. This is an email advertisement.
Because the people receiving this type of message are generally doing so by choice, it is much more likely that your sales message will be seen and paid attention to. The effectiveness of your ads will probably be comparable to purchasing space in a printed publication (although may be less costly.) And, of course, the effectiveness will depend on the design of your ad, the value of your offer, and your placement within the email message.

3. Classic Opt-In Email Marketing

Generally when you hear discussions about reputable email marketing practices, it is this type of email marketing that is being referred to. A special, separate email list is maintain specifically and only for your business or marketing campaign, and individuals opt in to receive the messages that you intend for that list. Generally you will build your email list by offering some sort of incentive for signing up, be it information, special offers, or giveaways.
This form of email marketing is highly effective and is growing in popularity among traditional marketing experts, particularly because the troubled economy calls for marketing techniques that require little upfront investment. In fact, opt-in email marketing appears to be getting more effective.
In order to accomplish this type of email marketing, you will need to plan your email campaign, build your opt-in email list, and write effectively.