Knowing when to send an email campaign or when to send an individual email blast can be a confusing decision when using a marketing automation software. I have had many users struggle with the distinction.

Although being able to develop and send a multi-step email marketing campaign is exciting, it’s not always necessary. Sometimes it just makes sense to send out a single communication.

Here are a few key questions to ask yourself to help decide:

1. Is the content time sensitive?

An email campaign is a series of steps, usually comprised of more than one e-mail. In a campaign, everyone starts at step one and goes through the entire process and the campaign can be initiated at any time.

When you have a seasonal newsletter or want to send out a communication that has information relevant to the season, a holiday or other specific event, it should not be a part of a campaign. It won’t make sense to send it to someone later, so just send it as a one-off e-mail to all of your recipients.

2. Is the content evergreen?

Content that is evergreen means that it is always useful and relevant. If you have written articles or archived content from other writers that won’t “expire”, that material is what makes a great educational drip marketing campaign. It won’t matter if someone is started on step one today or a year from now, because the information is always good.

Educational campaigns can serve many purposes, including educating your leads and prospects into understanding your business and industry (and hopefully becoming customers), as well as educating your customers and inspiring new ideas within them.

3. Is it a sales flow?

Email campaigns are both a sales and marketing tool. While sending out an educational drip campaign, you are marketing to your leads, prospects and customers. A campaign can also be a sales flow when steps like tasks to call the prospect are added and the e-mails are more focused on what your product or service can do for the contact. While this may still be educational, it is too salesy to send to all of your leads; this type of campaign is good for leads that are already warm and may look something like this:

Step 1: Day 1, Send Introduction E-mail

Step 2: Day 3, Task: Phone Call to Follow up

Step 3: Day 7. Send Informative Email

Step 4, Day 15 Task: Phone Call

You benefit from making e-mails like this into a campaign so you don’t have to remember to make the follow up call and the e-mails can be spaced out however you would like.

When dealing with cold leads, it is better to start them on an educational campaign so that they can learn why they might need your product. Hot leads should be receiving more one-off communications, because that is where you are more likely to be spending your time.