Confused about the difference between email marketing and email newsletters? You’re not alone! Email newsletters are often top of mind when first developing an overall email marketing strategy. But newsletters are only one piece of a comprehensive email marketing program.

Making the distinction between email marketing as a whole and email newsletters is important because mastering the differences between the two forms of email enables you to plan and deploy optimized and effective marketing campaigns.

Email Newsletters

First, let’s set a clear definition of email newsletters. Email newsletters are regularly occurring emails that include primarily informational content or a roundup of content pulled into one email that users can scroll through and read pieces they choose. Email newsletters don’t push products (or at least they shouldn’t); rather these emails hone a relationship by engaging in personal and topical information relevant to the subscriber.

For example, retail email senders are often heavily focused on products so their newsletters will typically include a lot of product-focused content. But the amount of “product” in your newsletter will vary depending on your industry. Health and wellness companies, on the other hand, can focus on the “benefits” or lifestyles of the recipients more and provide related content that keeps exercise (the product in this instance) top of mind for recipients.

The best email newsletters that land in my own inbox include content marketing articles that don’t try to sell a product, but that provide articles relevant to my lifestyle. Check out ClassPass’ newsletter “the warm up” to the right that includes multiple articles that cover everything from eating well to traveling in 2017.

ClassPass provides content that really runs the entire spectrum of wellness and healthy lifestyle. And kudos to them, these emails provide just enough inspiration for me to actually book that yoga class.

Interested in how SendGrid strategizes, creates, and measures its quarterly email newsletter? Check out Behind the Scoop, a blog series that breaks down all aspects of planning, creating and measuring newsletter efforts here at SendGrid.

Email Marketing Strategy

Email marketing includes emails that attempt to persuade a recipient, who has agreed to receive email from you, to take some sort of action such as download more information, or purchase a product or service.

Other examples of emails that are not newsletters include:

  • Welcome emails that are triggered when a user subscribes and agrees to receive marketing emails from your brand
  • Promotional emails including coupons and special events
  • Retention emails that engage with current customers to ensure they remain engaged and continue to use your product or service
  • Nurture emails, a timed email series with additional information or benefits for a subscriber that aims to “close the deal” once they have shown interest in your brand

Don’t feel overwhelmed if you think there are too many types of emails to keep straight to be an effective email marketer. If you keep things simple and focus on the emails that perform best for your program, you will be less likely to overwhelm your subscribers and push them into either unsubscribing, or even worse marking your marketing email as spam.

And don’t forget about tracking engagement metrics. Again, these will vary on your industry, but you’ll likely want to pay close attention to:

  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Spam complaints

If you notice your metrics are changing, it’s important not to panic but also to take action depending on the change. For more on this topic, check out some advice from one of our email deliverability experts.

Now that you can make the distinction between email marketing and newsletters, you can finalize your strategy and accompanying tactics that will help you reach your email marketing goals.

Pulling it all together

Finally, don’t forget about your transactional email program when you are considering your entire email marketing strategy. There are opportunities to incorporate promotional material into your transactional email, but there is definitely a fine art to this.

If you’re not responsible for transactional email at your company, meet with the employee or team who is so that you’re gaining the full benefit of this practice. It’s crucial that you don’t overwhelm your transactional message with promotional content. Promotional messaging should only be added if it provides values to your recipient and if doesn’t detract from your transactional details.

Check out Uber’s transactional email to the right which only promotes  a discount code for future rides at the bottom of the email once all the crucial information pertaining to the receipt is presented. Subtle, yet very effective.

Learn more about how to find the perfect balance of marketing and transactional content by downloading our new guide, Marketing and Transactional Marketing: How to Build a Powerful Integrated Program.



Kelsey Bernius

As content marketing manager at SendGrid, Kelsey oversees all functions of the SendGrid Delivery blog including scheduling, writing, editing, and publishing. Her downtime is dominated by either her mountain bike or skis (depending on current weather forecast)–and mixing up a salty marg afterward.