I own and have been running the agency since 2017. Throughout my journey, I have encountered numerous objections as to why some people do not want to work with agencies or have had negative experiences in the past. Some even express a strong dislike for working with agencies.
Choosing the right email agency for your company is similar to the process of selecting any service or product that you pay for, whether it’s hiring a plumber for your bathroom or buying a car. While there are some nuances involved, I will do my best to cover how to choose an email marketing agency for your eCommerce brand in this guide for you.
Also, this guide is specifically created for choosing an email marketing agency, but 80-90% of the process will be similar for choosing any digital marketing agency.
When Should You Consider Hiring an Email Marketing Agency?
- Your business has gained momentum and you lack the time to build an internal team.
- You prefer to outsource your email marketing channels to save costs and leverage external expertise instead of maintaining an in-house team.
- You hit a plateau with your email marketing channel and nothing you do seems to help.
You Should not Hire an Email Marketing Agency in this Scenario
When you are short on cash and believe that hiring an email marketing agency will solve your financial problems.
Remarks on Choosing an Email Marketing Agency
Remember, as an agency owner, I have seen how other businesses operate and may try to hide or mislead information. I will share what you should look for and what you should disregard when choosing an agency.
12 Points Checklist: What to Look for in an Email Marketing Agency
Here is a list of things you need to consider when comparing agencies. As a general rule of thumb, narrow down your selection to 2-5 agencies. Choosing a higher number may take longer. Once you have your final 2-5 agencies, gather information from them on the following points and compare them.
Here is a comparison chart that you can use.
Does this agency focus and specialize in the expertise you are looking for?
In our case, it’s email marketing.
Why is it important? First of all, the old saying states that if you’re a jack of all trades, you’re a master of none. If you evaluate big agencies with 250+ employees, they may have different departments specializing in many things. However, when talking to a smaller agency with fewer than 100 employees, it’s important for them to have a clear focus; otherwise, they may spread themselves too thin.
Here is the list of the 10 best email marketing agencies in the US.
Do they provide a free or paid audit?
Regardless of whether it’s a paid or free audit, it’s important to have one. We offer free email marketing audits, which have proven to be one of the most beneficial tools for our clients. Even if an agency provides a paid audit, I strongly recommend getting one before committing to a full project or retainer. It will demonstrate their expertise and provide you with an exact list of things and KPIs they can fix/improve for you.
In other words, if you decide to work with them, you can see what their plan of action would be and you can hold them accountable for the results.
Price is one of the first things we consider when making a purchase.
However, the value or return on investment may vary. For instance, paying $100 and getting back $120 versus paying $500 and receiving $900. The second option has a higher cost but also a higher return. When checking the price, it’s important to understand what you are getting for the price.
Additionally, if you receive a quote from an agency that offers multiple services including email marketing, ask them to separate the cost specifically for email marketing and exclude other services. This allows you to focus on the pricing for the service you truly want, such as email marketing, without any cost shifting to other services like media buying, where it may be more difficult to evaluate the true value.
If you’re looking for general ideas on how email marketing agencies charge for their services and want to benchmark prices, you can read our comprehensive guide on email marketing agency pricing.
4. Contract or Money Back Guarantee:
Long Term Contracts
If an email marketing agency requires a long-term contract, I strongly recommend doing a test period or requesting an exit clause without penalties within the first 30 days.
This period is crucial to determine if the agency delivers on their promises.
If they refuse, it could be a red flag. While agencies seek long-term partnerships, testing the service before committing is essential.
If they offer month-to-month contracts, inquire about any money-back guarantee.
Our agency, for example, provides a 30-day money-back guarantee without any questions. Although we’ve only had one refund since 2017, it was crucial in ensuring the right partnership fit.
5. Dedicated team:
It is important to understand how the agency works in terms of talent resources.
Will they provide you with a dedicated team that will work exclusively on your project, or will the team be rotated frequently? Is each person on the team an expert in their field? Ex. Copy, Design, Tech, etc. or are they a Jack of all trades, master of none?
It is preferable to choose an agency that assigns a dedicated team to your brand. This ensures that the team becomes familiar with your products and processes, leading to better synergy and a stronger partnership.
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6. Agency Size and Structure:
How big is the company in terms of employee count, and what is their organizational structure? I strongly recommend working with established agencies as this reduces the risk of delays in service delivery caused by staff turnover or absences due to illness.
7. Outsourcing vs in-house employment:
Does the agency outsource work to other contractors or agencies? Who will be doing the work?
I strongly recommend working only with agencies that have an in-house team. This ensures better results and more effective communication.
8. ESP Certification:
This one is very simple but important. Is the agency certified in the email marketing tool you use?
Lately, reviews have become the new currency of trust. I personally check reviews, even for a $5 product on Amazon. Reviews play a crucial role in the email marketing agency selection process.
Nowadays, it is extremely easy to check reviews on the internet. Simply type in the company name and add “reviews” to your search, or type in the company name in Google. The right sidebar of Google will display company reviews from Google and other sources.
Here is an example of our agency and its reviews in Google search.
10. References and Testimonials:
Can they provide references from existing or previous clients? or share real testimonials from those clients”?
For a well-established agency, this should not be a problem.
Asking for client references allows you to gain insights into their work and the satisfaction of their clients. It’s a good practice to request references to ensure you’re partnering with a reliable and reputable agency.
Is the agency an expert in the industry?
While this can be a subjective topic, one way to assess their expertise is by Googling the company name and seeing what results you find.
Look for indications such as providing industry-related content and being invited to speak at conferences about industry trends. It’s important to choose an agency that has a competitive advantage and stays up to date with industry trends, as their knowledge will be crucial in helping your business grow.
Do they have a strong social presence and demonstrate knowledge in the industry through platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter?
12. Case Studies
Does the email marketing agency have relevant case studies in your industry or at least some case studies?
Additionally, reviewing samples of their work can be helpful to see examples of the emails they have created.
Questions to Ask When Choosing an Email Marketing Agency
Some other questions you can ask during the interview process, but make them more conversational and adapt as needed.
- What should we expect during the onboarding phase?
- How frequently will we meet?
- What meeting format will be used?
- What availability will be required?
- What kind of reporting can we expect?
- Have they received any awards or recognition?
- How do they measure success and track key performance indicators (KPIs)?
- What is included in their services? Does it cover reporting, A/B testing, optimizations, integrations, etc.?
- Can they provide design or work examples?
- How much work will be outsourced to other companies?
- How does their team stay updated on industry trends and changes in digital marketing?
- What is the ideal length for our contract?
- What does each month of the contract include?
- How does their team stay up to date with industry changes?
- How does the agency handle urgent situations?