Don't Use an Email Marketing Agency Without Reading This First
Tempted to use an email marketing agency?
I can understand why.
In the 20 years I've been helping people with their online businesses I've encountered a lot of people who have been tempted to pay big money to take on an email marketing agency.
There is a big appeal in using an expert who can take care of all your email marketing requirements.
Especially if this company makes big promises of how much money they can make for you and what kind of results they can get.
Unfortunately, not all email marketing companies are worth the money.
Knowing how to choose the right email marketing agency, or whether you should even use one in the first place, can be a tricky business.
In this free training, I'm going to walk you through some of the key questions you need to ask and which services you might want to consider paying for.
Let's get started...
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Why Use an Email Marketing Agency At All?
5 Key Questions to Ask Email Marketing Companies
Email Marketing Services Are Not All The Same
How Email Marketing Companies Will Try To Get Money From You
What Is The Best Email Marketing Service Worth Paying For?
Is Using an Email Marketing Agency Right For Your Business?
Why even consider using an email marketing agency in the first place?
Well, there are a number of reasons you might even look at this as an option for your business.
Firstly, you might lack the necessary experience to start doing your own email marketing.
Maybe you don't know how to set up an autoresponder, or what an autoresponder even is or maybe you've never written emails to send to your prospects or your customers?
Perhaps your business is just brand new to all of this online marketing stuff.
Alternatively, maybe you lack technical knowledge.
"It can take a lot of hours to get an understanding of how to put all the pieces of email marketing together."
These are all valid reasons for looking to get an expert in to help lighten the load.
This is not necessarily bad, but going into the decision of choosing an email marketing agency, without being armed with the necessary information can have bad consequences for you.
If you have a fear of the unknown, or a fear of learning things for yourself, then it can seem like an easy option to take on an agency to do all the hard work for you.
And while this can reap great rewards, the downside is, of course, the cost and the risk that you don't get a good return on investment.
If you're money rich and time poor - great;
Using an agency is probably something you should at least consider.
If so, let's take a look at the five key questions that you need to ask before selecting an agency.
Arm yourself with these powerful butt-clenching questions to put to any marketing agency you are thinking of using.
They are all aimed at uncovering their real value to your business and how they can, hopefully, help you get excellent return on investment with your email marketing campaigns.
#1. How Much Has The Agency Made With Their Own Email Marketing?
You need to know how effective the email marketing agency is at generating its own sales using email marketing.
In theory, the agency should be complete experts at this field.
They should have generated at least six figures and ideally multiple seven figure incomes directly from email.
Some agencies and marketing companies may be very successful at getting money from their clients but not very successful at the service they offer.
If an email marketing agency is getting all of its business through paid ads or social media, and not email, how good can they really be?
#2. Has The Email Marketing Agency Worked With Multiple Clients in Your Niche?
Being good at email is very difficult.
It takes many years of experience and trial and error to get things right.
And that's when you're just operating in a single niche.
If you then roll out to multiple niches it becomes a potential minefield.
While the email marketing agencies that you contact may have great experience in the business-to-consumer field, maybe your company operates in the business-to-business field?
"An email marketing agency may have lot of good results for a certain type of client but your business could be completely different."
Now of course;
There are some aspects of email marketing which remain the same, regardless of the niche, such as using powerful copywriting, having the best subject lines, making sure you use the best email marketing engagement techniques, and so on.
But the marketing agency you choose to work with also needs to have a deep understanding of the market that you are operating in.
If you're not able to provide them with this information here's what to do;
Make sure they at least offer market research and in-depth analysis of your prospects and to build up a customer profile for you.
#3. Is Email Marketing Their Primary Source of New Leads and Clients?
The best way to really analyse how good an agency is, is to enter their prospect email funnel "undercover"...
Join their email list, read their emails, unsubscribe - do everything you can to see how their processes work.
Do they have a welcome email campaign?
Do they use personalization in their emails?
Are they segmenting their emails between prospects and customers?
Are their emails up to date and error-free?
And the most simple guideline of all -
Do you love their emails?
When you get emails from this company - do you jump up and down for joy?
"Are you excited to read their emails? Do they get you to take action? If not, run to the hills!"
You also need to spend some time researching how the agency is getting its business.
How did you find them?
Was it through a search engine?
Was it through Facebook, YouTube, or other channels?
Do they have clear opt-in pages where you can enter your email address with powerful headlines bullets and benefits?
Does the thank you page explain how to dig the email out of the promotions or spam or trash filter?
Does that first email hit you within one to five minutes?
Does it have a powerful call-to-action, and emotional triggers which get you to engage instantly?
Remember - the email marketing being done by an email marketing agency should be of the highest order.
If it's not, then you do not want to risk putting your own business in their hands.
#4. Can You Use Your Existing Email Marketing Set Up?
Many agencies will offer a complete done for you service where you hand over money and they take care of all your email marketing needs.
This can include all kinds of things such as;
- Running an email server
- Sending the emails
- Writing the emails
- Doing market research, and so on
The chances are;
If you've been in business for any amount of time you've already got your own email marketing setup of some kind.
Perhaps it's a small email list you've built up, or maybe a landing page, or a freebie.
Maybe you already pay for an autoresponder service.
"Before getting into bed with a email marketing agency, make sure they let you take what you've already built up."
If they start encouraging you to change everything and drop the resources and assets you've already developed to put all your eggs in their basket then;
This really should set off warning signs.
#5. Do You Get To Keep All of the Created Content?
It's important that you retain ownership of all the emails and the content that's created by an agency.
Some agencies may try and keep this for themselves.
They use it as a device to try and retain you as a client.
The idea being that if you leave their services, you lose your mailing list.
Or alternatively, you don't get to reuse or repurpose the emails that you and the agency have worked on together during that period.
Make sure everything is written down in black and white before you engage with a company.
You need to retain full ownership.
Keep control of as much content and process as you can.
Okay it's time for us to talk about how...
You might think an email marketing agency is all about writing and sending emails.
While this is a key component that many of these companies offer, it's just a single aspect of what's available out there.
Let's take a look at the different services on offer.
This way you can understand what you might want to consider, what you can do yourself and what is not necessary for your business.
#1. Market Research
One of the first things you should be doing, before you start marketing in any way, is to do thorough market research.
You need to get into the mind of the prospect.
You need to understand what makes them buy...
- What are their buying habits?
- Where do they hang out online?
- What triggers them to buy?
- What things are they interested in?
- What are their hobbies?
- What are their demographics?
- How old is your typical customer?
- What is their gender?
- Where do they live?
- What books do they read?
- What other products do they buy?
- Which places do they visit?
- Which Facebook groups are they a member of?
- Which websites do they visit most often?
And so on.
This is the kind of information you need to have at your fingertips before you start an email marketing campaign.
Knowing this means you can relate stories and angles of emails to the specific interests and triggers of your demographic.
Some email marketing companies will offer this as part of their service.
It can be useful, but bear in mind:-
"As a business owner nobody understands and knows your market, better than you."
You can save yourself time and money by doing this on your own.
And ideally, if you already operate a business, you should have done this anyway.
Next, let's talk about...
#2. Landing Pages
Landing pages, also known as opt-in pages or squeeze pages, are the simple web pages online where you offer something free in return for somebody's email address.
It's a way for you to build a mailing list.
You give something away for free, and in exchange, people enter their email address.
This is something else an email marketing agency may offer you.
They may charge you a fee to create a landing page.
They may even offer to build the list for you and actually run the database of contacts.
They might charge you a fee for an autoresponder, which collects the email addresses on your behalf and sends the emails out to these people automatically.
"If you're new to email marketing all of this might sound difficult and expensive."
You can get one of the best autoresponders on the market for just a few dollars a month.
In fact, the one I use (GetResponse), even gives you a free 30 day trial.
Make sure the agency you choose to work with, if you do indeed decide to work with an agency, is not marking up simple service offerings in price and passing these costs on to you.
Let's talk about...
#3. Driving Traffic
Email Marketing does not work without driving traffic, of course.
Many agencies offer driving traffic services.
This can include search engine optimization, social media marketing and pay per click (PPC) advertising and retargeting.
"You could devote 40 hours a week, for several years, learning each one of these traffic methods on its own."
So there is definitely merit in taking on an expert to help you navigate through each of these.
For most business owners this is just not feasible.
So it becomes a decision of what you really want to do and what is really needed and what is financially possible for the stage your business is at.
Be wary of agencies that bundle all of these services in together in one package;
There are many services you don't want to pay for because it's in your best interest to understand them at the coalface yourself.
If you get somebody else to do all the work it can backfire;
You won't fully understand how the process operates.
This can put you in a bad position, if things go wrong.
Another service that agencies offer is...
#4. Content Creation
This is the actual writing of the emails.
This might seem like a great idea.
As we all know, sitting down with a blank sheet or screen can be a nightmare for some people.
Where do you start?
What do you talk about?
"How do you write emails that get opened, get clicks and get sales?"
What are the best email subject lines you can use that stand out?
You may not know any of these things.
So getting an agency to do all this for you has a massive appeal.
The problem with this is;
You're handing over the golden goose to a third party.
"Your email marketing is your direct communication channel to your prospects - do you really want a stranger doing this?"
Wouldn't it be better if you got to know, understand and relate to your prospects and customers directly?
This is different if you have a larger business with a huge brand.
In this case, email marketing takes on a more corporate feel.
There is no one-to-one relationship building.
There is not much storytelling.
And there is no real way to develop a personal relationship with email marketing.
But if you run a small- or medium-sized business then email marketing is a great opportunity for you to form deep and valuable relationships with everybody on your mailing list.
It is worth the time you need to invest to learn how to do this yourself.
Next, let's talk about...
#5. Sending the Emails
You will need an autoresponder company.
They will send emails on your behalf.
This service is also offered by some agencies.
This is definitely not something that you want to take on yourself.
You cannot, for example, start sending hundreds of emails from your Gmail account or from your business domain name account.
You will quickly get spammed and blacklisted.
The good news is:
Using an autoresponder is fairly easy to get started, but does include some technical details.
If you would rather farm this out, then this could be one of the best things to consider.
Now let's talk about;
#6. Scheduling & Segmentation
Scheduling of emails is one of those underrated aspects of email marketing...
Most business owners are familiar with the instant email which goes out the moment that somebody opts in to join their mailing list.
And they may also be familiar with a live broadcast email.
These are sent on a specific date at a specific time when an event or a price discount is occurring.
What you may not be familiar with is scheduled emails, which you can set up in advance.
These are sent automatically at set intervals.
"You can have a 7-day scheduled email campaign that runs for the first week after somebody first opts into your list - it's a great way to get hands-free sales."
This can all be done in advance.
And if somebody joins today, tomorrow or next week, they will all each receive the 7-day email sequence.
These things are slightly more advanced email marketing strategies which you may wish to take an agency on to assist you with.
Segmentation is another such strategy.
This involves breaking down your email list into different parts.
You may want to send different emails to prospects than you do to buyers.
Maybe you want to send different emails to your most-valued customers.
Maybe you want to send a nudge email to people who have opened a previous email, but not clicked?
These are all things you can do with segmentation.
But this is an advanced strategy.
And lastly, one of the services that might be on offer is...
This is where you can create a series of rules inside your autoresponder that will move people from list to list, depending on the actions they take.
If somebody clicks the link in the email on day two, you can move them to another list.
If they become a customer, you can take them off the prospect list so they don't get the emails selling that product they've already purchased.
These rules run automatically without you having to get involved.
Getresponse has a great automation suite which lets you set up these rules with simple flowcharts.
Some agencies also offer this kind of service.
Let's move onto...
As we've seen, there are a variety of services that email marketing agencies might offer to you.
The question is;
Which services should you take?
In the wise words of Michael Gerber, the author of The E-Myth;
"Only do what only you can do" - Michael Gerber, The E-Myth
Your job as a business owner is to outsource everything which CAN be done by somebody else.
This is a great idea in theory.
But if you don't have the finances to do this then you end up being the CEO, the Human Resources manager and the marketing director of your business!
But the principle remains the same;
Try to stick to the tasks which nobody else would be able to replicate.
"Things only you can do include - relating to your customers, communicating with your customers on a one-to-one level and building personal relationships."
These are all key components of email marketing, which should not be outsourced or given to an agency,
Don't be tempted to take the complete done-for-you package that an agency might offer;
There is more benefit for you in the long term in you of getting to know and understand your prospects yourself.
Some of the services the agencies offer are simple things you can learn in an hour or two.
It's quite possible to do it yourself.
It's also worth remembering;
In today's global gigging economy that you can often find very talented individuals to complete some of these specific tasks for you for a fraction of the agency price.
It all comes down to your time availability, money availability and willingness to do some of the work yourself.
So the question is...
This will depend on what stage your business is at.
You definitely want to retain ownership of creating the content for each email;
Don't hand content-creation over to some third party because getting to know and understand your prospect is a key component to the overall success of your business.
Don't get lazy.
You need to know this stuff inside and out.
What could be worth paying for and getting somebody else to do for you are the technical things that maybe lie outside your comfort zone.
These could include;
- Building landing pages
- Growing the email list
- Scheduling the emails
- Setting up segmentation
- Automation etc.
This will vary on a case by case basis, depending on how much time, money and experience you have.
Remember to always ask for specific results for the service being offered (and ideally, in the same niche that you are operating in).
With that being said...
Many agencies specialise in only helping large businesses,
A quick search on Google shows many email marketing agencies which have worked with big blue chip clients.
This is all well and good BUT:-
Emails sent by those type of clients need to be necessarily different to emails sent by a smaller business.
"Large organisations send emails which are low in content, high in visual impact and rely heavily on an existing brand loyalty."
As a small business, you cannot rely on this kind of leverage.
For you, the power switches completely from a visual component to a textual component...
For smaller businesses, it's the words and stories you use inside your email which will get results and not the pictures or visual components.
Don't try to emulate the big business approach to email.
If you try using a visual newsletter, stock photography and visual gimmicks you will fall flat.
Many agencies don't understand this;
They adopt a "one size fits all" approach.
As a small business owner, your best chance of reaching the inbox of your prospect, getting them to open, and then click the email is to speak to them on a one-to-one basis.
You need to email them as if you are emailing a friend.
"You need to speak to them in a one-on-one way that builds up personal relationship develops rapport and enables trust to be established."
You don't have the advantage of an existing huge brand, loyalty, credibility and recognition behind you.
So the words and stories that you use in your emails need to do this heavy lifting for you.
On this basis, an email marketing agency is not the best solution, typically, for small businesses.
This is not to say you can't use one, but be cautious in the type of services you choose to pay for and, of course, the agency you end up choosing...