Operational Emails vs. Email Programs – What’s the Difference?

It’s a question that pops up a lot—what’s the difference between an email program and an operational email? What does each one do, and when do you use one over the other?  

Let’s start off with email programs in Marketo.

These programs can stand alone as a marketing program and usually have their own Marketo channel. Email programs are typically used for one-off email blasts–-like promoting an event, webinar, or roadshow. These programs are built like other Marketo programs, but what makes them unique is that they can also live within other Marketo programs.

Email programs use a smart list that can include both list types–smart and static. They can also include other values that need to be included to properly segment. Plus, email programs don’t need a smart campaign to be sent out.

An important feature of the email program is the dashboard report, which shows you the open rate, click rate, click-to-open rate, and unsubscribe rate for each email:

Another feature that sets the email program apart is the control panel. On it, you’ll get a summary of the compiled audience list, the asset included in the email, when to schedule the email blast, the email’s approval status, and details for performing A/B testing.

Operational emails are just as important as email programs, but in a different way.

These emails are typically used to send confirmation emails after someone fills out a form, to send a link after someone has signed up to receive gated content, to let a customer know about an important product update, or to reply when someone provides their information on the “Contact Us” page. Operational emails will always find their way to the individual that filled out the form, even if they are unsubscribed from your Marketo system. Unlike email programs, operational emails need to be part of a smart campaign.

Here is where you can label an email operational:

Now that you know the difference, here’s how you can put email programs and operational emails to best use:

Email Program Operational Email
Invitation Emails for webinars, events, etc..                X
Notification Emails for events                X             
Notification Emails for product updates               X
Confirmation Emails                             X
Email Blast to an audience                X

Posted by Marvel Marketers

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