Published February 5, 2024

Sales email vs Marketing email: what’s the difference?

Sam Tuke

Sam Tuke

Chief Executive Officer

Email is email, and commercial “bulk” email is basically the same, right? Wrong! The key differences between sales mail and marketing email can be grouped into two categories:

Note: sales email is most effective for B2B sales, so that’s what we’ll focus on in this article.

1. Business value (to the sender)

Marketing mail is typically much lower value per message to the sender than B2B sales mail. Marketing mail has an average open rate of around 15% for emails, and click rates average around 2%. (see 1, 2).

The goal of sales mail is typically a written reply which starts a human conversation over email, which at some point results in a sale. Not just building brand recognition, use of a promotional code, or otherwise participating in a self-service marketing promotion.

The clicks that do result from marketing mail mostly result in website bounces (immediate exit with no action taken). So enquiries (e.g. lead form fills) average a fraction of a percent. Volumes sent are also much higher.

The email marketing industry is about 25 years old, and delivery to the Inbox is not expected, nor the goal of Marketing delivery services. The “promotions”, “social”, and “offers” subfolders were created by Google and Microsoft in response to the volume of email marketing from companies like SendGrid and MailChimp.

At Lightmeter we’re experts in bulk of all sorts: our last company was Mailchimp alternative phpList – software which sent billions of emails monthly on behalf of tens of thousands of users.

Sales outreach has higher value per message, and much higher engagement rates. At Lightmeter we average around 60% open rates (for those customers who enable open rate tracking), and 5% reply rate, across customers.

Lightmeter delivers sales mail via our network, not via Google or Microsoft or SendGrid. We’re the only managed email delivery service like it. Because of this we’re able to provide more direct support to our customers – because we have more control and more data about your sales sending.

2. Technical profile

As well as differing in the impact on the bottom line, sales email also works differently at the technical level to marketing emails.

The volume of email is lower – the newsletter (marketing mail) of one of my favorite writers (Brain Food, by Shane Parrish) goes out to over 600,000 subscribers each time. Sales email is usually lower volume, and more personalized and targeted.

The cadence of email sending also differs between the two: salespeople want a daily drip of sales mail going out, and interested replies coming in. That feeds sales funnels, which need to run consistently all year round. Marketing mail tends to go out in more sporadic weekly or monthly “blasts”.

Sales mail also reads like a hand-written, mostly plain-text email message, like something you’d tap out quickly on your own smartphone. That’s a far cry from the designer-created pixel perfect email templates you receive from big brands in their marketing emails. The number of images, the amount of HTML code, the size (in kilobytes), and the amount of words in a marketing mail are all very different.

All these technical differences technically make marketing mail easy to recognize by mail filters at inbox providers like Google. Once recognised, marketing mail is typically placed in sub folders like “Promotions” or “Social”. Those folders were created to house them, so it’s arguably where they belong. As a salesperson, that’s not where you want your mail to land however: the Primary Inbox is the best place for your sales mail, in order to achieve the highest possible reply and conversion rate.

That’s why we built Lightmeter, and that’s what we achieve for Lightmeter customers every day, with 99% of mail delivered by Lightmeter currently landing in the Primary Inbox.

Brought to you by:

Sam Tuke

Sam Tuke

Chief Executive Officer


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