Cold Email Vs. Email Marketing

Cold Email Vs. Email Marketing – Understand the Difference

Emails have become a very important part of our lives. Whether personal or professional, email communication plays a vital role in every aspect of our life.

In today’s time, almost everyone uses email to communicate with their friends and family members. The same thing applies to businesses too. They send emails to their customers and potential clients to promote their services and products.

According to Statista, the total number of email users is set to grow to 4.6 billion users by 2025.

total number of email users


Email marketing is an excellent way to reach out to new prospects and increase sales. There are a couple of formulaic ways to go about sending emails – cold email and email marketing.

The cold email refers to direct communication between a company and its prospective customer without any prior relationship. On the other hand, email marketing involves building relationships with existing customers through regular communications.

Are you looking for ways to get started with email marketing? If yes, then this write-up is perfect for you. Email marketing is a robust tool for both B2C and B2B companies. This guide will teach you the basics of cold email vs. email marketing.

Cold Email and Email Marketing – Understanding the Details

What is a cold email?

Cold emailing is sending a spontaneous message to someone you don’t know in order to get their attention. You can do this to get their attention, but most often, it’s just spamming. You can send cold emails via social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., or even email.

Many marketers think that they are catering to large numbers by just sending cold emails to anyone. They believe that selling is just a number game. They may be correct; however, the receiver must have a legitimate interest in your offer in order to be GDPR-compliant and derive the best results.

cold email sample

How does cold email work?

A cold email is supposed to start a business relationship like an association, alliance, or sales.

So why is the email cold? It is so because the relationship is cold. As you know, these emails are sent to random people whom you usually do not know.

Then how does it work?

To begin with, cold emailing is sent to multiple recipients through your email service provider. They are usually sent in bulk. The reason behind such actions is that cold emails have a very low response rate. As mentioned earlier, the recipient is unaware of your identity with cold emails. Hence they will be less likely to respond than if you are someone whom they know.

That being the case, if you intend to do cold emailing campaigns for sales promotions, content promotion, podcasting, link building, or any other form of association, you will have to send bulk emails from our email lists to as many email ids as possible.

Cold emailing is all about numbers. It is believed that the more you engage, the greater the chances of getting a response.

Hence, you are not emailing a few email ids, but you are going to shoot cold emails to hundreds of email ids. Having said that, how do you get so many email addresses, and how do you know what needs to be written to all those people?

Understanding a typical cold email campaign

The entire process of a cold email campaign starts with creating a prospect list of organizations you want to connect with. Your next step is to find the right individuals and their email addresses at those organizations from the email lists.

This is followed by writing cold emails and consecutive follow-ups. Remember, the messages sent and the follow-ups are a part of your marketing sequence.

Finally, you use a cold email sending tool and shoot those email messaging sequences.

Should You Still Write Cold Emails?

The answer is a big yes!

The reasons are:

Ⓘ Email is non-intrusive

You will agree that emails are the most non-intrusive form of communication. You can comfortably send a sales proposition without intruding into a potential customer’s life as a cold calling would.

What’s more, it is easier than other cold methods as there are no direct confrontations.

There is no fear of being rejected with cold emails, and you can give your confident shot from behind the curtains.

Ⓘ Cold email personalization and scaling are possible

Have you heard the term “Cocktail Party Effect?”

You can personalize your cold emails by adding the name of the recipients. This technique improves your chances of getting an answer.

So what is the “Cocktail Party Effect?” You are at a function surrounded by a large crowd and music. Suddenly you hear someone calling your name at a distance. In the midst of the loud sound, you still hear the call because the call is your name.

B2B marketers have been using this campaign strategy for years. The sales team should come out of this technique of just using the names and adding something more personalized in the cold email marketing campaigns.

It is essential to research your potential email clients and prepare your cold message with new pieces of information.

Ⓘ A great return on investment

Cold emailing has a great return on investment. Yes, it is true. If you can send cold emails using personalized cold email applications, you can double your customer reach and shoot double the number of cold emails.

Setting the beat is the key to maximizing the return on investments. If you have the ability to create a sequence of messages that is personalized, you have a powerful tool in your hand. You will automatically grow.

Are All Cold Emails Spams?

You have to remember that cold emails are a popular technique for lead generation. So, you are not alone in this arena.

However, not all are enjoying the success rate as they are supposed to because of the way cold email outreach campaigns are executed.

You just cannot reach out to your prospects the way email marketing reaches if you do not follow the right strategies. In that case, sending templated cold emails would result in spamming.

Given below is the list of differences between cold emails and spam emails. This will help in improving your email deliverability.

Cold EmailSpam Email
Email is sent to ideal prospects and not everyone.Email is sent to anyone and everyone using the “spray and pray” approach.
The emails are personalized on several levels and supported by adequate research.The research is almost nil. The emails are generic and mostly irrelevant to the receiver.
The email content is grammatically correct and easy to understand.  The emails are mostly templates that have less relevance to the content.
Receivers can opt out of cold emails if they want.There is no opt-out option for the receivers. Even if there is one, it is hard to find.

With the internet being so progressive these days, an email can be easily spotted and transferred to the spam folder if not done properly.

What is meant by email marketing?

Email marketing is a format of direct marketing through which enterprises can share new products. This marketing format also helps you pitch and sell your products and provides customers with necessary updates.

Marketing email has a high return on investment, and it is an essential part of the inbound sales strategy of most companies.

Modern-day email marketing has come a long way from the classic format. Now it also focuses on the personalization of emails, including consent and segmentation. In the long run, a marketing email strategy takes care of the sales and is also a force behind building a community around your brand.

Marketing automation is a key player in how email marketing functions.

What are the different forms of marketing emails?

There are three different types of marketing emails that serve a specific purpose.

Promotional emails

This email marketing format is used to promote special offers, new product launches, content like webinars and ebooks, and your brand in general. A promotional email campaign usually rides on sending 4 to 10 emails over a stipulated number of days or weeks.

In promotional emails, you get a clear call to action (CTA). It means you want the readers to take specific action after reading your email. It could be visiting your site or clicking on a coupon to make a purchase.


Image courtesy of Google Photos

Your marketing emails usually depend on your business rhythm. Depending on your expected returns, you can shoot multiple emails in a single day or a few in a week.

Informational emails

You can further segregate informational emails into the following:

Newsletters: As the name suggests, newsletters share information about your business. Your enterprise may have closed a new deal, reached a milestone, or updated existing products. All information can be shared with the customers periodically through effective emails.

That said, newsletters are not only about information. It is about letters. It would assist you if you worked on your informational emails as an opportunity to share insights with the users and create a beneficial impact on the customers.

Announcements: Email is one of the best platforms through which you can inform your customers about your business updates.

Most of the time, effective emails are the go-to channel for providing information ranging from talking about shipping delays to updating your contact details.

webinar email example

Image courtesy of Google Photos

Re-engagement emails

Did you know about re-engagement emails? It is another form of effective email campaign where organizations reconnect with customers or subscribers who have not been active lately.

Re-engagement emails are a great source of catering to a segment of people, reclaiming customer loyalty, and creating a bond with inactive subscribers.

re-engagement email example

Image courtesy of Google Photos

Why is marketing email so important?

Email technology has been around for quite some time now. It was one of the first digital mediums for communication that came into being in the early 70s. Even after half a century, the tech is still going strong and is used more than ever.

While you could think that email has lost its sheen in the age of social media, the same is not true. Social media is undoubtedly an important platform for digital marketing, but email program has a few advantages up their sleeves.

First, email marketing campaigns are less expensive than social media campaigns. Next, you can personalize an email to a great extent, which is difficult in the case of social media. Also, if you were to consider the conversion rate and email reach, that would be another advantage.

This is the reason why the email marketing campaign process is so important for small and medium-sized enterprises. Lastly, an email marketing campaign process is so powerful that you can reach your audience’s inbox directly and convert prospects into customers.

Given below are a few numbers to prove our point:

  • In 2021, there were more than 4.1 billion email users globally
  • 62% of the users ranked email as their most preferred channel for communication with small businesses.
  • 80% of Americans use their emails at least once daily, with a quarter checking their email several times daily.

Since the above figures are true, you miss out on great sales opportunities and build a sustainable relationship with your customers if you do not have an email marketing strategy.

Now that we have discussed cold email and marketing email in detail, let us understand their difference.

Cold Email Vs. Email Marketing

To make your business successful, email marketing strategy plays an important role. It transforms your prospects into customers and converts first-time buyers into repeat consumers.

Cold email is a part of email marketing efforts. While you try to reach prospective clients through cold email templates, email marketing goes a step further and creates brand awareness and trust, irrespective of whether the email recipient is a new customer or a potential one.

Difference between cold email and email marketing

Let us find out how cold email differs from email marketing.


As said earlier, cold emails and email marketing have different objectives.

Cold email prospecting aims to source new leads into your sales funnel with various cold email outreach tools. Since these prospects are strangers with whom you have never interacted before, they are called ‘cold prospects.’

On the other hand, email marketing is about building and maintaining relationships with existing customers and prospects. These leads are ‘warm’ since they are aware of your brand and product and have shown interest in your email series.

When email marketing is executed with proper email list hygiene and due diligence, it creates brand awareness and converts prospective clients to customers.


As a best practice, marketing emails should never be sent from the same database of contacts or systems as cold emails. Sending cold emails and marketing emails from the same IP could hamper the sender’s reputation. In many cases, the email deliverability rate is affected because of restrictions.

If you send marketing emails, ensure your contact database is 100% ‘opt-in.’ Use a dedicated email outreach tool to manage cold email prospecting.

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Metrics and KPIs

KPIs and metrics for cold emails and marketing emails are different. The success ratio of both depends on the metrics and KPIs.

A ballpark figure of 25-30% is considered a good average open rate for email marketing. On the other hand, a minimum of 80% is considered a good rate for cold emails.

Does that mean opening messages does the trick?

No, that is not the case.

Recipients have become indifferent to cold emails. Analysis shows that 95% of the outreach emails get ignored.

So, even a high open rate cannot guarantee success in the case of cold emails.

How cold emails are executed should be considered and not the strategy.

Since cold emails are one-to-one communication, as an email marketing provider, your intention has to be to get a response from the prospect to begin a conversation. Hence, the best way to measure cold email success is to measure reply rates.

Email marketing, on the contrary, is a one-to-many communication where your email is trying to make a prospect click on a specific link. Unlike cold emails, the reply rate in marketing emails is not that important. What matters is the number of clicks or the actions taken by the recipient.

The volume of emails also differs in cold emails and marketing emails. While in the case of email marketing, you can send bulk messages to thousands of contacts at one go; cold email campaigns are generally across a specific time frame.

The scale of cold emails and marketing emails is also huge. It means the marketing teams need to pay close attention to workload management.

Email frequency and content

Marketing emails could be welcome emails, newsletters, product updates, or seasonal campaigns. These emails are usually sent regularly, and the customers know when to expect such emails.

Additionally, marketing emails follow a certain workflow called ‘email automation.’ Here prospects receive several emails over a period if they opt for the campaign.

email automation workflow

Email automation workflow sample (Image courtesy of Google Photos)

You can also send marketing emails according to the conditional logic of user behavior. For example, you leave certain products in the cart without completing the purchase. In that case, you shall receive an automated email reminding you of the incomplete purchases.

Whereas, in the case of a cold emailing strategy, you have to get a reply for a direct sale or a demo request. The automated feature does not work in the case of cold emails as it is user response-dependent.

Skills and roles

We now know that cold and marketing emails have similar objectives – sales and marketing. However, the roles and the skill set required in both cases are somewhat different.

With cold sales emails, the responsibilities lie on those who are good at relationship building and closures. It is primarily a sales responsibility. Here, one has to be capable of handling one-to-one email interactions and managing high volumes.

Marketers best manage email marketing. They specialize in developing customer journeys and are usually good at copywriting.

Having said that, if you are a small business owner, you will probably be managing both by yourself.

Advantages of Cold Emails and Email Marketing

Did you know that the investment return in email marketing is a mindboggling 4200%?

Yes, you read it right. You can get $42 for every $1 spent.

In the case of cold emails, 78% of the decision-makers believe that cold emails are successful in starting a conversation or scheduling a meeting.

Let us look at the advantages individually.

Advantages of cold emails

  • Cold emails help in expanding the reach of your business. Contrary to the belief, cold emails are not limited to extracting potential customers only. You can even use them to recruit potential employees or affiliate marketers.
  • With the help of cold emails, you can get probable clients into the sales funnel, which is necessary to start the sales cycle.
  • Cold emails help you to create a database of email addresses.
  • It helps in converting prospects who use rival solutions.

Advantages of marketing emails

  • Through email marketing, you build trust between your customers and the business. When you stay connected with your customers, they feel connected to the brand.
  • It gives a fair idea of how engaged your customer is with your products and services.
  • Email marketing helps in segregating marketing leads into sales leads.
  • With marketing emails, you can convert leads into loyal customers.

What Is the Purpose of Email Marketing and Cold Emailing?

If you observe marketing emails carefully, they always direct the email recipients to an external link. It could be a podcast, a website, a blog, or an ebook. The fundamental motive behind these emails is to stay in touch with the subscribers by giving them valuable information. By doing so, they can always reach out to you when you require solutions.

In contrast, you search for individuals through cold emails, understand their business requirements, and try to fit your products into their needs.

Cold emails usually start a B2B conversation that may result in a long-term business relationship or a standalone business deal. In this mode of communication, you want the recipient to respond to you. Once you get a response, it sets the ball rolling, which is the idea behind the entire exercise.

As said earlier, cold emails are related to the sales process and marketing emails with marketing. While both marketing and sales have a relationship, you cannot expect to increase sales by sending a marketing email to cold customers.

Tools of Cold Email and Email Marketing – Features

With automation being the in thing, what better than to have automated email tools for cold email and market email campaigns?

Cold emailing tools

The important features of cold email tools are:

  • They help you with personalized email templates.
  • The tools have automated cold email follow-ups and sequences.
  • It allows you to do advanced tracking.
  • It allows you to see all the details in one place.

Some cold email marketing tools include SalesLoft, Outreach, Close, SalesBlink, etc.

Email marketing tools

The important features of email marketing tools are:

  • The operational email deliverability feature allows you to ensure that the emails hit the recipient’s inbox.
  • The tools help you to create an email journey and engage existing and potential consumers.
  • The dynamic content tool personalizes emails to grab the attraction of the recipients.
  • The tools give you 24/7 customer support.
  • Allows time optimization to schedule emails at the right time.
  • It allows easy integration with other apps and tools

Some examples of email marketing tools include Mailchimp, Userlist, SendGrid, AWeber, etc.

Common Mistakes of Cold Email and Email Marketing

Below are some of the common mistakes businesses make in cold and marketing emails.

Common mistakes – Cold email

To reap the benefits of cold email, you must avoid common mistakes. Remember, cold emails are like darts thrown in the dark. In most cases, it might not strike the target. So, an effort should be made for fewer mistakes.

  • Cold emails talk about product features instead of benefits.
  • The emails do not mention the CTA (call to action).
  • Even if the CTA is mentioned, it is a complex one.
  • Cold emails with a long email body.
  • No name of the sender.

Common mistakes – Email marketing

In the case of email marketing, it is necessary for you to meet customers’ expectations. Some of the common mistakes are:

  • Using too many photos and graphics.
  • Not staying in touch with the subscribers.
  • Not being mobile-friendly. Almost 67% of recipients use their mobiles to check emails. Hence, mobile-friendly emails are the need of the hour.
  • Not tracking campaigns.

Seeking a Balance Between Cold Emails and Email Marketing

We hope this article has cleared the confusion between cold emails and email marketing.

The main purpose of every email is to help facilitate communication. Cold and marketing emails are ways of reaching out to customers, grabbing their attention to your brand, and eventually closing a sale.

Cold emailing is outbound marketing, while email marketing is inbound marketing. The difference lies in directly going after a prospect and attracting a customer to your product.

While there are some overlapping approaches (sales), each objective requires different tools, metrics, frequency, skills, and content.

The bottom line is that both cold email and email marketing should be in your sales and marketing strategy.

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