How To Select An Email Marketing Agency

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Read this guide online at: http://mailchimp.com/resources/guides/how-to-select-an-email-marketing-agency/

It might be time to call in some help with your email-marketing campaigns—this guide will walk you through that process. We’ll explain the most popular services that email–marketing agencies provide, and go over some important questions you should ask potential partners. The included agency directory will come in handy too.

What’s inside:
Tips on finding and working with email-marketing agencies, including:

Whether or not you should hire an agency
Selecting agency services
Asking the right questions
MailChimp’s Expert Exchange Program
Agency directory

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How To Select An Email Marketing Agency

  1. 1. How to Selectan EmailMarketingAgency©2001-2011 All rights reserved. MailChimp® is a registered trademark of The Rocket Science Group. 1
  2. 2. Table Of Contents Hello.Introduction .............................................................................................................................................................................. 3 Email marketing can be a daunting task. Whether you’re overworked orShould I Hire an Agency? ......................................................................................................................................................... 4 overwhelmed, sometimes you just can’t do it alone. This guide will helpWhat Can an Agency Do for Me?............................................................................................................................................... 5 you figure out if it’s time to call in some help. And if you decide to get help with your email marketing, we’ll let you know what to look for in an Overview of agency services ..................................................................................................................................................... 5 agency or consultant, and how to manage the relationship. Selecting services ................................................................................................................................................................... 5How Do I Narrow Down the List? .............................................................................................................................................. 6 What should you look for? What questions should you ask? And what Asking the right questions ....................................................................................................................................................... 6 should you expect from a good agency-client relationship? Let’s get started.I’ve Got My Agency. Now What? ............................................................................................................................................... 8MailChimp’s Expert Exchange Program .................................................................................................................................... 9 2 3
  3. 3. Should I Hire an Agency? What Can an Agency Do for Me?Email marketing is a specialized skill—whether you or one of your em- Overview of agency services Selecting servicesployees is an experienced email marketer or you’re starting from squareone, your in-house skill set will help determine what you’re looking for in Your next decision is what type of services you need when it comes to Sometimes, you may not be able to put your finger on exactly what youran agency. Time is also a big factor—do you have enough of it to involve email marketing. That information will help you determine whether you’re company needs. Time to figure that out.yourself with every detail of an email-marketing campaign? Do you have looking for an interactive agency, an email-marketing consultant, a deliver-the time or inclination to teach yourself? Think about those question as ability expert or something else. Here’s a basic rundown of services that When selecting an agency, you have to ask yourself some tough questions.you look at this list. Here are some signs it’s time for professional help: agencies provide: Sit down with your team and have an honest discussion about where you are today—and where you want to be tomorrow—when it comes to market-You want to start marketing through email, but you have no idea where to Strategic Consultation ing your business. You should then talk about how you can reach thosestart and don’t have time to learn (or read our helpful guides). If that’s the Tell them your goals, and they’ll give you a plan of action. goals over the next year or two. You don’t have to spell it out day-by-day,case, then get help now. but the clearer your vision, the better an agency can detail your prospec- Marketing Campaign Management tive partnership.You’ve done some email marketing, but you want to take it to the next They can take over the whole thing if you want them to. Just provide thelevel. It can be hard to ramp up revenue or increase efficiency. An agency direction, and they’ll run your campaigns for you. Here are some tough questions to ask yourself and your team:can help guide you in the right direction, or take over the whole darnthing. Creative Development What’s our overall marketing plan? They’ll write, format, and produce your emails. Pretty emails have to comeYou know what you’re doing, and if you just had a few more hands, you from somewhere, and sometimes it’s an agency. How does email fit in it?could really go places. An agency or consultant can seamlessly help youknock it all out. Acquisition and List Optimization What’s working with our current email marketing? What isn’t? They can grow your list using email best practices to increase revenue,You need help with one step. Your guys are creative wizards but you can’t while limiting bounces, unsubscribes, and complaints. Should we start our campaign from scratch, or revise what we alreadytell if their flowery prose is selling your flower pots. Or maybe you’re a left- have?brained stats freak whose campaign needs a shot of creativity. Contracting Vendor Selectionout analytics or creative agencies or consultants might be the way to go. Vendors send out your emails. An agency will look at what your needs are Do we need our own IT department involved? and help you pick the vendor that will best meet them.People aren’t actually getting your emails, or you’re not getting their re- Who else do we need to talk to within our company?sponses. These issues can ruin a great campaign. Someone else can make Deliverabilitysure you don’t miss those opportunities. Content is essential, but it’s also paramount to make sure everyone on When should this start? And when should it finish? your lists gets your emails on time.Your email list is out of control or non-existent. An expert can help you What’s our budget?grow your list responsibly. They can also track things like customer behav- Campaign Metric Analysis & Optimizationior, so you can better target each individual recipient with the appropriate Metrics tell you how well your campaign is working. You can then tweak What’s our forecasted volume per month? Per year?message. and optimize it as needed to reach your goals. What sort of return on our investment (ROI) are we looking for?Any of these problems sound familiar? If so, don’t fret. Next, we’ll talk Integration and Customizationspecifically about what these email-marketing agencies can do for you. Your email marketing needs to be consistent with all of your branding, How will we measure success? both online and offline. It’s also important for your marketing to work together across all platforms. What are our biggest challenges to overcome in the next six, 12, and 18 months? When you first make contact with an agency, ask to see an overview of what they offer. Some firms specialize in just one facet of marketing, so Once you hammer out some answers to these questions, write up a brief it’s important to make sure they meet all your needs. Be specific about summary—or at least be prepared to talk about it when meeting with what you want—diligence is vital when picking which agency to work with. potential partners. The answers to these questions will guide your initial conversations. 4 5
  4. 4. How Do I Narrow Down the List? Development and Integration What development resources do you have on staff or work closely with? Can you help me with database integration with my email service provider? Can you work with my IT guys to code for our website if needed?Now it’s time to get some information from the agencies you’re consider- Is this one-size-fits-all, or do you have specific ideas for my company? Once they answer all of your questions, make a list of two or three final-ing. This is only the start of the conversation. Here’s what to look for in a ists. Look at the cost, and decide which is the best fit for your company.possible partner: Can you show and/or tell me about other email-marketing programs Some agencies work on a per-project basis, while others work on retainer. you’ve recently developed or managed? Regardless, once you’ve made a decision, iron out a contract and makeMake sure they understand your business model, along with your com- sure all parties understand the expectations of this partnership.pany’s mission statement. Can you help me convince my boss that email marketing is a good idea?Check out their previous work and see if it appeals to you. What are some concrete ways my company can increase revenue with email marketing?Talk to them to see if you get along. Culture is important. Develop a mu-tual understanding of your brands and how you each do business. What problems do you see with my current email-marketing strategy?Try to meet as many people in the company as possible, especially those What are some major challenges in email marketing? How can weyou’ll be working with directly. Personality shouldn’t be understated, as overcome them?you could be seeing a whole lot of these people. Can you talk about the current state of email marketing and whichGauge from your own interactions, or talk to some of their other clients, emerging trends may affect it? In what ways?and make sure these guys will get in touch with you if something comesup. Don’t wait until you’re already getting complaints from customers. CreativeAsking the right questions Do you offer creative design services (email, landing pages, Facebook)? What’s your creative-development process? How much input will I have?Tell potential email partners what you want when you sit down with them,but remember also that good conversations are about asking good ques- Will my emails look good on any platform or client? How do you check?tions. Here are some sample questions that you should tailor to your ownbusiness to get an even better sense of how these people can meet your How can you help me make my content better? Can you do it for me?needs: Production and FulfillmentGeneral How many email campaigns are you managing for your clients right now,In addition to email marketing, do you have other marketing services? per week or month?Is email marketing a core part of your business? Do you specialize in any What if I have an emergency after hours? Can I get in touch with you?particular area of email marketing (creative, analytics, strategy)? What if I have a last-minute request? Can you always fulfill it?What makes you all different from those guys I just talked to? Can you send out emails on my behalf if I want you to?Do you work with any of my competitors? What other platforms can we use (social media, mobile, web analytics)?How long have you been in business? DeliverabilityWhat email service providers do you work with right now? Could you workwith others? Which email programs do you like and why? Is there a deliverability expert on staff?How much will this cost me? Do you have a minimum? Hourly rate? Can you guarantee all my emails will go where they’re supposed to, when they’re supposed to?Strategy Can you adequately troubleshoot any problems I may have? How do youHow do you come up with a strategy for email marketing? monitor my emails to ensure things go perfectly? 6 7
  5. 5. I’ve Got My Agency. Now What? Expert Exchange ProgramCongratulations. You’ve got yourself a partner! Now it’s time to focus on Are you a MailChimp user who’s looking for an expert? Maybe you wantdeveloping this relationship and making sure you achieve all your goals. someone to create a few custom templates for you, help you wire up yourTreat your partner as an extension of your marketing team. Some things to interface, or even just handle migrating your lists from another emailkeep in mind: company to MailChimp. MailChimp’s Expert Exchange Program (EEP) can help. And we’ll even help foot the bill.Remind yourself and your partner what your goals are. Make sure everyoneon the team is on the same page. Here’s how it works:Make sure everyone knows who they should be in touch with, and how to 1. Choose a company and let us know who it is. You might have an agency,do so. designer, developer or freelancer you’re already comfortable working with. If that’s the case, ask them to email us (expertprogram@mailchimp.com).When you start a new project: We’ll get them registered as an official MailChimp Expert right away.Define goals. Get that out of the way right off the bat. If you’re not already working with someone, read through this guide and check out our list of MailChimp Experts. Select one, email them, and ex-Be specific. Your agency partner can help you, but provide as many details plain you’re interested in working with them as part of MailChimp’s Expertas you can. Exchange Program.For each project, be sure to decide together: 2. Agree on project scope and cost with your expert. Decide exactly what your expert’s going to do, and how much they charge for that service.How to work together 3. Have your expert send MailChimp a copy of your paid invoice via emailPriorities (expertprogram@mailchimp.com). We’ll take up to 50 percent off your monthly bill for up to six months, or until we’ve reimbursed you for half ofMilestones and goals the cost of your project—whichever comes first.Timeline Looking for an agency? Check out our directory.How often you’ll receive updates on progressStay in touch with your partner. Just like any relationship, you have tospend time together. Weekly status calls or daily updates are often a goodidea for agencies.That’s it. You’re now in a productive partnership with your new email-marketing agency. Good luck!Keep reading for information on MailChimp’s Expert Exchange Programand a directory of agencies. 8 9

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