1. Email Marketing

What’s the difference between cold emails & email marketing?

Both ‘cold emails’ and ‘email marketing’ are terms that are frequently used in the realm of digital marketing, but they aren’t interchangeable. So, what sets them apart? Let’s dive in and find out.

So, what exactly is a cold email?

A cold email is a type of business email sent to a recipient without prior contact or consent. It’s like cold calling, but in written form. The primary goal of a cold email is to initiate a conversation with potential clients or customers who might not be aware of your products, services, or even your business.

Crafting a cold email is an art; it requires a delicate balance of professionalism and friendliness. You’re essentially reaching out to a stranger, so the message needs to be persuasive, personalised, and respectful of the recipient’s time and interests.

And what about email marketing?

On the other hand, email marketing is a powerful digital marketing strategy where businesses send emails to individuals who have signed up or consented to receive them. These emails can include promotional content, informational newsletters, company updates, or exclusive offers.

The essence of email marketing lies in building and nurturing a relationship with your audience. It’s not just about selling products or services, but also about providing value that can educate, inform, or entertain your subscribers. Consistent and valuable communication fosters trust, and this trust can eventually translate into loyalty and conversions.

Key differences between cold emails and email marketing

Understanding the definition of both terms is just the first step. Now, let’s delve deeper into their key differences.

Consent is crucial

First and foremost, the main difference between cold emails and email marketing comes down to consent. With email marketing, individuals have given you explicit permission to send them emails. They might have subscribed to your newsletter, downloaded a free resource, or made a purchase from your online store. In contrast, with cold emails, you’re reaching out to someone who hasn’t interacted with your business before.

Different goals

Another significant difference lies in their objectives. Cold emails are primarily used for prospecting – you’re looking to initiate a relationship, whether it’s to generate a lead, secure a meeting, or establish a partnership. Email marketing, however, is about nurturing an existing relationship. The end goal could be to drive traffic to a new blog post, promote a sale, or increase engagement with your brand.


Both cold emails and email marketing can be personalised, but they approach this in different ways. Cold emails are typically highly personalised to resonate with the recipient. You might mention something specific about their company, refer to a recent social media post they made, or discuss common challenges in their industry.

Email marketing also uses personalisation, but often on a broader scale. This could involve segmenting your email list based on user behaviour or interests and tailoring content to these segments. Personalisation in email marketing might also involve using the recipient’s first name or sending them birthday discounts.

Legal implications

It’s also essential to consider the legal aspect of both practices. In many jurisdictions, there are specific laws regulating unsolicited emails. For instance, in the U.S., the CAN-SPAM Act sets rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, and provides recipients the right to stop any further emails.

In contrast, email marketing often operates under opt-in laws, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires explicit consent from individuals before sending them promotional emails.

In Conclusion

While cold emails and email marketing both involve sending messages via email, they serve distinct purposes and follow different sets of rules. Cold emails are unsolicited messages sent to potential clients or customers with the aim of initiating a conversation or relationship. Email marketing, on the other hand, targets subscribers who have explicitly given consent to receive promotional, informational, or other types of content from a business. At EmailOctopus we support email marketing only, requiring prior consent of your subscribers to use the platform.

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