Email marketing IS inbound marketing and here is why 

by Candice Brandt

These days, inbound and email marketing are words used in every other blog post or social media post, but do marketers hold a true understanding of these channels?  

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, the terms “email marketing” and “inbound marketing” often stand as pillars of strategy, each holding its unique prowess. It’s time to unravel the synergy between these two concepts and understand why it’s not just a standalone tactic but an integral part of inbound marketing. 


But first, what is inbound marketing? 

Inbound marketing is a customer-centric digital marketing strategy that emphasises creating valuable and relevant content to attract, engage, and delight a target audience. It’s about building meaningful connections by providing information and solutions that align with the needs and interests of potential customers. Unlike traditional outbound marketing, which interrupts with intrusive messages, inbound marketing aims to naturally draw people in and foster long-term relationships. 

The concept of inbound marketing was popularised by HubSpot, a marketing software company founded by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah in 2005. HubSpot recognised a shift in consumer behaviour, with people increasingly turning to the internet for information and solutions. In response, they developed a methodology that centred around creating valuable content to attract and engage audiences online. 

 Imagine your business is like a cozy independent bookstore. Outbound marketing would be like placing loud advertisements on billboards and radio, hoping someone passing by might take notice. 

 Now, think of inbound marketing as transforming your store into a hub of knowledge and engagement. You fill the shelves with insightful books (content) that cater to various interests and questions your customers might have. Instead of shouting about your offerings, you invite people in with book signings, engaging book clubs, and helpful staff recommendations (engagement on digital platforms). 

Customers walking by notice the vibrant and welcoming atmosphere, and they enter because they’re genuinely interested in the topics your bookstore covers. They feel a connection because your store provides value and aligns with their reading preferences. 

 Inbound marketing, much like the bookstore experience, is about creating a magnetic and enriching environment that naturally attracts people who find genuine value in what you offer. It’s about building relationships with those who share common interests and appreciate the knowledge and insights you bring to the table. 

Why should email marketing be seen as an inbound avenue? 

Email marketing, often viewed as a standalone channel, seamlessly integrates with the principles of marketing.  

Here’s why: 

  a. Personalised Engagement: 

Inbound marketing emphasises personalised interactions with the audience. Email, as a direct communication channel, allows marketers to tailor messages based on user behaviours, preferences, and lifecycle stages. This personalisation fosters a deeper connection and resonates with the inbound philosophy of providing relevant content. 

 b. Lead Nurturing and Conversion: 

One of the core tenets of inbound marketing is lead nurturing. Email campaigns serve as a powerful tool to nurture leads by delivering targeted content at various stages of the customer journey. Through strategic automation, marketers can guide prospects seamlessly through the funnel, ensuring a smoother transition from awareness to consideration and eventual conversion.   

c. Content Distribution: 

Inbound relies heavily on creating valuable and shareable content. Email serves as an effective distribution channel for this content. Whether it’s blog updates, eBooks, or webinar invitations, emails enable marketers to push relevant content directly to their audience, driving engagement and building trust. 

 d. Building Relationships and Trust: 

Trust is the cornerstone of success. When executed thoughtfully, enables businesses to build lasting relationships with their audience. Consistent communication through newsletters, exclusive offers, and personalised messages contributes to brand trust, a pivotal aspect of the inbound methodology. 

 Alignment with Inbound Methodology

 a. Attract: 

Email marketing contributes to the “Attract” phase by creating awareness and drawing prospects into the marketing funnel. Engaging email campaigns serve as the first touchpoint, enticing potential customers to explore further. 

 b. Engage: 

In the “Engage” phase, this channel takes centre stage. Nurturing leads with relevant content, sending targeted offers, and encouraging two-way communication through emails all contribute to sustained engagement. 

 c. Delight: 

The “Delight” phase is where emails continues to shine. By delivering post-purchase content, exclusive offers, and personalised recommendations, email campaigns contribute to customer satisfaction and loyalty, fostering brand advocates. 

 Read more about the Inbound Marketing Flywheel. 

 Metrics and Analytics: 

 a. Data-Driven Decision Making: 

Inbound marketing thrives on data-driven decision-making. Email platforms provide a wealth of analytics, allowing marketers to measure the performance of campaigns, understand user behaviour, and refine strategies for continuous improvement. 

 b. Integration with Marketing Automation: 

Marketing automation, a key component of inbound marketing, seamlessly integrates with email campaigns. Automation tools enable the delivery of personalised, timely messages based on user actions, ensuring a cohesive and streamlined customer experience. 


Why should you make use of email marketing?


Compared to traditional marketing channels, it’s cost-effective. There are no printing or postage costs, and the expenses associated with designing and sending emails are relatively low.


Leads generated through inbound marketing cost 62% less than through outbound efforts.

Targeted Communication:

This allows businesses to segment their audience based on various factors such as demographics, behaviour, and preferences. This targeted approach ensures that messages are relevant to specific groups, increasing the likelihood of engagement.


Personalisation is a powerful aspect of email marketing. Businesses can address recipients by their name, tailor content based on past interactions, and provide personalised product recommendations. This personal touch enhances the customer experience and fosters a sense of connection.

 High ROI (Return on Investment): 

It consistently delivers a high return on investment. The ability to reach a large audience with minimal costs, coupled with the potential for high conversion rates, makes it an attractive investment for businesses of all sizes.

30% of marketers cite email marketing as having the highest ROI. This is probably because, for every $1 spent on email marketing, $44 is made in return, according to a study by Campaign Monitor, which equals a 4400% ROI. 

Automation and Efficiency: 

Automation features in email marketing platforms enable businesses to set up drip campaigns, trigger-based emails, and personalised workflows. This automation streamlines marketing processes, saves time, and ensures timely and relevant communication with subscribers.

Measurable Results:

You have access to detailed analytics and metrics that allow businesses to track the performance of their campaigns. Metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates offer valuable insights, enabling marketers to make data-driven decisions and refine their strategies.

Global Reach:

With email, businesses can reach a global audience instantly. Whether targeting local customers or expanding to international markets, this form of marketing facilitates quick and efficient communication with people around the world.

Enhances Customer Engagement:

Email campaigns encourage customer engagement through interactive content, surveys, polls, and call-to-action buttons. Engaging content keeps subscribers interested and involved with the brand.

Builds Brand Awareness and Loyalty:

Consistent and well-crafted email campaigns contribute to building brand awareness. By staying in regular contact with subscribers, businesses can strengthen their brand presence and foster customer loyalty over time.

Drive Conversions:

It’s a powerful tool for driving conversions. Whether the goal is to generate sales, encourage sign-ups, or promote special offers, strategically designed email campaigns can lead recipients through the sales funnel and prompt them to take desired actions.

Adaptability and Integration:

Email marketing can seamlessly integrate with other digital marketing channels and tools. It complements social media, content marketing, and overall digital strategies, contributing to a cohesive and integrated marketing approach. 

    What are some email marketing tips to get your started?

    Segment Your Email List 

    Divide your email list into segments based on demographics, behaviour, or preferences. Targeted emails are more likely to resonate with specific segments, leading to higher engagement. 

    Optimise for Mobile Devices 

    Ensure that your emails are mobile-friendly. A significant portion of users opens emails on mobile devices.

    Nearly 1.7 billion users check emails on their mobile phones, which has royally outnumbered the data for desktop, which is around 0.9 billion users.

    Use responsive design to provide a seamless experience across different devices. 

     Craft Compelling Subject Lines 

    Write attention-grabbing subject lines that entice recipients to open your emails. Experiment with different styles, such as curiosity, urgency, or personalization, to see what resonates best with your audience. 

     Focus on Quality Content 

    Create engaging and valuable content that speaks to your audience’s needs and interests. Use a mix of educational, promotional, and entertaining content to keep subscribers interested. 

    Implement A/B Testing 

    Conduct A/B tests on various elements of your emails, such as subject lines, copy, visuals, or calls-to-action. Testing helps you understand what resonates best with your audience and allows you to optimise for better results. 

     Include a Clear Call-to-Action (CTA) 

    Clearly state the desired action you want subscribers to take. Whether it’s making a purchase, signing up for an event, or downloading a resource, a compelling CTA improves conversion rates. 

     Implement Automation 

    Set up automated email workflows based on triggers such as user actions, time, or specific events. Automation helps nurture leads, onboard new subscribers, and deliver timely content without manual intervention. 

     Email marketing is not just a tool; it’s a dynamic force that harmonises with the principles of inbound marketing. As experienced email marketers, we’ve witnessed the transformative impact of integrating email campaigns into a comprehensive inbound strategy. Embrace the synergy and unlock the true potential of email marketing within the realm of inbound strategy. Contact our team if you need more information on inbound strategies for success. 

    The Author

    Candice Brandt

    Candice is a digital marketing specialised with a special love for content and sharing her digital marketing knowledge. Based in South Africa, she has experience of working in digital marketing agencies as well as working in-house. She is a lover of all things digital and can often be found reading up on new trends in the industry and testing new platforms to bring our clients more leads!


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