Email Outreach vs Marketing Email: What’s the Difference?

Email Outreach vs Marketing Email: What’s the Difference?

Email conversion copywriter and strategist Laura Lopuch launched and grew her freelance business 1400% in 4 months using 328 cold emails – just one of which netted her nearly $20,000 in revenue.

  • She saw a 56% open rate
  • Her positive reply rate was 9%

ks2ipd0es image2019 07 11at10.18.10amCold emails can – and do – work to grow your business, when done right. But what exactly are they? (Source: Copyhackers)

The average open rate for cold emails is 26%, so she pretty much made out like a bandit with her cold email campaign.

Email outreach can work – if you use it for its intended purpose.

But what is email outreach? How is it different from the equally powerful marketing email? What are the best tools for cold emails (and why can’t you use a standard ESP)?

This post will cover:

  • What’s the difference between email outreach and marketing emails?
  • The best tools for cold email outreach and sending marketing emails
  • 4 common mistakes to avoid when sending cold sales emails and marketing emails

What’s the difference between cold email outreach and marketing emails?

The difference between cold email outreach and marketing emails is that email outreach goes to people who don’t know you yet, and marketing emails go to specific audiences who have opted to receive your emails.

A cold email outreach message is for brand-new prospects that you find on your own. You can find these prospects by…

  • Sending targeted ads to people who visit your website
  • Doing outreach on social media and LinkedIn (based on their profiles)
  • Pulling a list of decision makers at target companies (or working with a data enrichment service to help get this list)

LinkedIn currently has over 610 million members. The network has 303 million active monthly users and 40% of them visit the site daily. Imagine how many of them are potential leads.

With cold emails, you target people who are actively looking for a way to solve their problem.

A cold sales outreach email uses a plain text email style. A marketing email often uses brand colors and typeface, as well as images and other brand-related content.

Plain text is more common for an email to someone who has never heard from you (or maybe even of you) before.

Here’s what a sample cold email example looks like:

vftk77xu3 dc0f7c8b114e2229edcdfc65ce9d5427 image2019 07 10at10.36.00amChris’s introduction and the call to action for a free trial at the end are both indicators of a cold email.

A marketing email is a message you send to people who have opted in to get information from you. This can mean:

  • Someone who has signed up for a free trial
  • Someone who has visited your site before but not committed
  • Someone who subscribes to your newsletter and other promotional emails already
  • Someone who has converted into a customer already – a customer you want to keep

A marketing email is designed to show leads the benefits they could unlock by becoming a customer. They are not meant to be pushy, sales-focused emails, because most contacts getting them are not ready to buy from you yet.

More often than not, people who get marketing emails aren’t looking to buy from you right now. That means they need helpful information – you can bring people closer to the point of sale by giving them free information that solves their problems.

Check out this marketing email example from Nutrition Secrets.

tfxgb81uv sumo convert2This marketing email gives multiple valuable content resources and talks to the reader without directly pushing for a sale. (Source: Sumo)

People who get marketing emails signed up for them – so you can often send more emails (and send them more frequently) than you would for a cold email outreach sequence.

What does a cold email outreach sequence look like?

A cold email outreach sequence can have anywhere from 8–12 touchpoints that include emails, phone calls, and meetings. The steps might look like this:

  • Day 1 – Email 1
  • Day 2 – Call 1 (Leave Voicemail)
  • Day 3 – Email 2
  • Day 4 – Call 2 (No Voicemail)
  • Day 5 – Email 3
  • Day 8 – Call 3 (Voicemail)
  • Day 11 – Email 4
  • Day 15 – Email 5
  • Day 21 – Email 6
  • Day 35 – Email 7
  • Day 50 – Email 8

A sales outreach process is subject to two things:

  1. Who your business is
  2. Who your prospects are

You should send to a highly targeted audience, not who everyone else is targeting.

If you want a place to start, make sure to include the following in your email:

  • An introduction
  • The reason why you’re reaching out
  • A relatable connection (highlight something you both have in common, like past work colleague, or highlight something they’ve worked on recently that you enjoyed)
  • Make the ask

Keep your message short and to the point. Stick with just what they need to know upfront. That way, they can make a quick decision about whether they need what you’re offering.

At ActiveCampaign, our cold sales outreach process combines automation and human touch. We reach out to a smaller, targeted number of customers, so we can customize and even personalize our email outreach based on things like:

  • Industry
  • Products
  • The roles of prospects

The goal of these sales outreach emails is to create common ground, make a relatable connection with a prospect, and try to schedule a meeting.

In one ActiveCampaign prospect sequence, the process and cold outreach emails look like this:

  1. Decide what sequence a prospect goes through. Build different sequences based on different interests. You could, for example, set up sequences for things like “General”, “Software”, “Events”, or “Chicago”
  2. Add contacts and then put them into a sequence. The sequences have tasks for us to call or email. Some of the emails are templates that go out automatically and some we personalize.
  3. Start contact! Typically we send about 4-8 emails over 30-45 days. The number of emails sent will depend on what reactions cold prospects have.
  4. Tailor the content to highlight how our platform can be a good fit for them. An email might highlight a customer use-cases that is relatable to the prospect.

hmv09mgxt image2019 07 08at11.53.15amShort, sweet, to the point. Note the places to use a first name to make a cold email more personal.

ym4mw3cw7 image2019 07 08at11.53.35amThis cold email template leaves a place for the sender to show that they’ve done some research and are working to build a relationship. Also, check out the rest of our email templates.

0ux1oydb6 image2019 07 08at11.53.50am1Highlighting satisfied customer reviews and trusted recommendations can make a big impact on a person.

124sw7uey image2019 07 08at11.54.09amPeople will nearly always perk up at the mention of something free.

qz56ahp2 image2019 07 08at11.54.34amHave you ever needed a second option to make an informed decision? We’ve got one for you.

c0d4nzbs image2019 07 08at11.54.50amIt’s not necessarily goodbye forever, just for now. This email leaves the door open for future communication AND helps you learn more about your leads.

What does a marketing email looks like?

Marketing emails vary widely, and come in many different styles.

What types of marketing emails can you send to people?

  • Content emails (both gated or not)
  • Welcome emails
  • Event or webinar emails
  • Company culture emails
  • Product emails

These types of emails help a lead become more comfortable with your business – and more willing to take actions like buying a product or subscribing to a service. Marketing emails like this tend to appear at the top and middle parts of the funnel.

According to a MarketingSherpa survey, 61 percent of users prefer receiving a promotional email at least once a month.

15 percent of users say they wouldn’t mind receiving a promotional email every day. Klick um zu Tweeten

Here are the regular marketing emails that ActiveCampaign sends:

Blog newsletter email

If you’re reading this, it’s probably no secret to you that we have an ActiveCampaign blog full of helpful and entertaining posts.

But are you signed up for it? If not, you totally should (and you can here!) but if not, these are what our blog newsletter emails look like.

t4iekd39r image2019 07 16at9.24.47pmThe beginning of this marketing email catches your attention with a couple of shocking statistics.

gl63j6yg image2019 07 16at9.26.46pm“I bet I know…” is a tried and true curiosity hook that keeps people reading.

Customer story spotlights

One great way to help leads get to know your business better is to show them how others have enjoyed working with you. Our customer spotlights are one type of marketing email we send. In spotlights, we feature the stories of people who useActiveCampaign.

dpck8sj1 image2019 07 16at9.29.35pmInteresting stories are relatable. What grabs you more – a list of automations or how someone used them to be successful?

Automation recipe email

Our automated email marketing is intuitive and easy to use, but it gets even easier after we send an automation recipe email.

What if you know you want automation, but aren’t sure what automation you want?These marketing emails contain ready-made automation recipes that are easy to set up.

fb05pf5r8 image2019 07 16at9.30.55pm

qilpnq21 image2019 07 16at9.31.14pmNot just a list of automations, but automations that meet a specific need AND show you how to use them.

Product update email

Say someone visits your website and signs up for your list, but hasn’t made a purchase. A product update email can show your leads exactly what they get when they become a customer.

8aehm6bje image2019 07 16at9.32.27pm

ignv0ifpq image2019 07 16at9.32.39pmA CTA at the top of the fold is always a good idea.

Sending every single one of these emails (and other marketing emails) every day of the week isn’t necessary. In fact, it might be overkill.

ActiveCampaign doesn’t send every marketing email to each customer every week. Typically it’s one email a week per customer, with one of the following:

  • A customer story spotlight
  • A product update
  • A new course
  • A new automation recipe

For a boost in opens and clicks, we target each email to where the reader is at in their customer journey. We target based on things like:

  • Are they are a current customer? If so, what plan are they using?
  • Are they an expired or canceled customer? Here’s a link to reactivate, or potentially speak to someone on the team to learn about how a new feature will help them

Sometimes, all it takes is one marketing email to convert a lead into a customer.

What are the best tools to use for email outreach vs marketing email needs?

There are a few features you need from a cold email outreach tool:

  • Easy to use – it’s hard enough to reach out to strangers without the platform being difficult
  • Templates – save even more time with a ready-made message that you can customize as needed
  • Email tracking – get notified when your email is opened and know better who is most willing to keep talking
  • Integration with other tools – like Salesforce!

What you need from a marketing email tool:

  • Targeted emails – send to exactly the right audience
  • Segmentation – make sure everyone in your audience gets exactly what they want to see
  • Split testing – learn which marketing emails work and which will get deleted
  • Personalized emails – a marketing email is a chance to put your brand personality on the page

Here’s what we recommend for cold email outreach:

  1. Outreach
  2. Yesware

Outreach is a fully featured, all-in-one platform with extensive cold emailing features along with features for voice, email, and social. It’s a great help to marketing teams that need a comprehensive tool to help with lead generation. features cloud, web, and SaaS deployment.

19cikzq4e image2019 07 11at2.25.37pm

Outreach prioritizes intelligent automation and reply detection to make sure that none of your interested prospects fall under the radar. The deep personalization options make sure that you are always speaking directly to your prospect.

And guess what! Outreach offers a free trial so you can test out the features.

Yesware is a plugin for Gmail. You can:

  • Create customized templates.
  • Implement it easily
  • Do cold email outreach with personality
  • Take advantage of email tracking

3n1ntlp4b image2019 07 11at2.23.46pm

Yesware is a great cold email and CRM tool for salespeople. It helps you stay on top of all your sales communication and close more deals faster. It’s easy to use and the remind feature helps you stay on top of your accounts and next action items.

For sending all your marketing emails, we recommend ActiveCampaign (because why wouldn’t we!).

Why ActiveCampaign?

  1. Automation
  2. Segmentation
  3. Customization

You’re busy, and you don’t need to spend time doing things that can be automated. In a platform like ActiveCampaign, you can automate your messages to go out when you need them to.

In fact, tools like predictive sending make it easier than ever to know that your messages are sending at the times people are most likely to open them.

zm1qvwhxz image2019 07 10at11.02.51amHow ActiveCampaign predictive sending works in 3 simple steps.

You can also use segmentation to show people exactly what they want to see. And with all of these marketing emails, you can use 200+ templates or customize your own messages to really nail personalization.

Cold email outreach and marketing emails: 4 common mistakes to avoid at all costs

Whether you are sending a cold outreach email to a new prospect or a marketing email to a list contact, there are a few mistakes to avoid.

1. Buying email lists (this never ends well)

Here’s a question for you – did you buy all of your friends?

Probably not. Because that’s weird, and kind of illegal. Buying an email list of people whom you want to build lasting relationships with is along that same line.

Neither cold outreach or marketing emails to a list of subscribers is about reaching out to a completely random group of people that you don’t know. And doing this by way of buying a list is what gets you blocked.

The people that you target with cold email outreach and email marketing should still be people that you know you want to talk to (and who you have good reason to believe will want to talk to you too).

2. Putting pressure on prospects

“HI PLEASE BUY THIS FROM ME. You’ll like it, because I say so.”

People you are cold emailing are not ready to buy immediately, so don’t push that agenda right at the beginning. Yes, you want to sell to them – but they have to want to buy from you, and they won’t if your email reads like an overly-enthusiastic in-store salesperson.

As you saw before, cold emails need to be direct, but they aren’t about immediately selling yourself. People care about themselves, not about you (especially when they don’t know you yet).

So whether you’re sending cold sales outreach emails or marketing emails, make the email about them. What it’s going to do to improve their lives and be a valuable asset.

3. Trying to sound amazing and using too much jargon

You believe in what you’re trying to sell, and that’s great. But humble bragging and trying to sound like the most unbelievable resource around isn’t going to make your job any easier.

People want to know how you will solve their problems and be a valuable resource to them. They don’t care that you’re “voted the highest recommended [insert service or product here] for the last 5 years!” Why? What about you makes your service worth it?

The purpose of these emails isn’t about you and making a sale – it’s about the people and improving their lives.

And, even if you aren’t trying to sound like the gold standard, make sure you aren’t using buzzy-sounding words or difficult jargon. You are a human who is emailing other humans. Speak as such.


“If it please you, would you be able to spare an allotment of time to modulate about your conundrums?” …Would you answer an email that sounded like this?

4. Giving up too soon (or not giving up soon enough)

When is it time to give up on a prospect? Or at least take a break from reaching out? When is too soon to stop trying altogether? All of this depends ultimately on the type of prospect you’re reaching out to. You have to ask yourself:

  1. Is this person a great fit for what I have to offer?
  2. Is it a lucrative opportunity in terms of revenue?
  3. Is it bringing in a recognizable brand?

At a certain point – like maybe between the 8th email and 2nd voicemail – it might be time to take the hint and stop. By then they probably know enough about you to determine that they are either

  • Not interested
  • Don’t think the time is right

But more often than not, you don’t abandon an opportunity as soon as they stop replying to your messages (or even after they say they’re “not interested at this time”). Instead, focus on maintaining communication later. Make a note to send an email in a few months.

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