Salesforce has been on a renaming tear lately. Lots of products, especially in the marketing space, have been renamed. This hasn't always resulted in more clarity. Pardot is now Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, while Marketing Cloud Messaging/Journeys is now Marketing Cloud Engagement. Some of the larger renamings have gotten a lot of attention.
One subtle one that you may have missed was the standard Salesforce Sales Cloud feature that used to be called "Mass Email" is now called "List Emails". Account Engagement (Pardot) also has a feature called List Email. What's more, the new drag and drop email builder's Email Content feature generates what amounts to a List Email in Account Engagement.
So let's quickly review these similarly named, but very different features, because there are key differences in how they work and can be used.
List Emails (f/k/a/ Mass Email)
This is incorporated into Sales Cloud and can be used in any edition including ones that do not have Pardot at all. Here are some key features and limitations:
Limited to 5000 emails per org per day
Does not require an unsubscribe link, nor does it respect Account Engagement's unsubscribe status
Can use templates including templates built with the drag and drop email builder
Sending lists initiated from Campaign Membership or adding people from list views or manually
Only tracks opens, does not track links
Can use Snippets
No reporting to speak of
Sends from the person initiating or from an org wide approved sender. Cannot send from record owner
Can attach a salesforce file to message
Account Engagement List Email (via the Classic Builder)
Using the classic builder to send a list email from account engagement gives you the most flexibility.
Any AE list or lists can be used for sending and suppression.
Can send from any user, designated email address or the record owner
No sending limits
Must use unsubscribe link
Tracks opens and clicks and includes reporting
Litmus testing available (in certain editions)
A/B testing of subject lines or content available
Can use snippets or dynamic content
Can use cut/paste HTML from a different source for the entire message
Account Engagement List Email (via the Drag and Drop Builder)
Using the drag and drop builder to send a list email from account engagement is relatively straightforward and in execution is similar to the classic builder (emails scheduled or sent like this show up under "scheduled/sent builder emails" in the Account Engagement interface. However, since the drag and drop builder is pretty new, it does still have some limitations. These bullet points are strictly what is unavailable vs the classic builder.
No Litmus testing
No A/B testing
No custom fonts
Character limitations on cut/paste HTML email blocks
Is there a use case for Sales Cloud List Emails if you are using Account Engagement?
In my mind, there is, but you have to be very clear about what is and is not appropriate if you are using them together. Since Sales Cloud List Emails does not have an unsubscribe link, it's more or less the equivalent of an operational email in Account Engagement-- not matter what the subscriber's opt-in status is, the email will send. So if we are using Sales Cloud List Emails, we need to consider it in a similar way. Therefore, it is probably best used for individual sales people communicating directly with their best contacts-- people they are normally in regular contact with. The feature has a built-in preference to send from the person initiating the message anyway. So the kinds of communication that are closer to 1:1 from a salesperson to their customers seem to be the best use case here- things they might otherwise to be tempted to do as an off-platform mail merge. Things like: personal invitations to small events, "thank you for your business" emails, important reminders or updates. The fact that you can include a salesforce file such as a new spec sheet or price sheet also can figure prominently in the use case.