How to Choose The Right Email Marketing Agency
Nothing converts like email.
Email beats all other marketing channels and can generate $37 for every $1 you invest.
Even though email marketing can generate a ton of revenue, it’s still not easy.
You need to know which email tools are best, how to use them so you don’t end up in spam folders, and how to create emails that convert.
Even for fully-staffed marketing teams, it can be overwhelming.
Email marketing agencies are perfect for overcoming these challenges.
They know how to use the tools and run fully-scaled email campaigns. They can also distill your brand and offer into great campaigns that generate revenue.
Today, I’ll walk you through how to choose an email marketing agency that’ll help you unlock all the business value email holds.
Well, let’s start from the basics.
Know Your Goals and Desired Outcomes
Before you jump straight to the top email marketing companies and pick one to work with, it’s a good idea to pause first.
You’ll get much better results.
Famous email agencies, like the ones I’ll recommend, usually have a track record of overseeing successful email marketing strategies and campaigns.
However, it’s never a one-size-fits-all situation.
Some agencies only excel when working on specific projects or campaigns. Others drive better results when working with specific kinds of businesses.
Knowing your goals and desired outcomes with email marketing gives you the right lens to evaluate different agencies and know which one is best for your needs.
Not to mention, it’ll help your agency get started a lot faster. The clearer the goal, the better the outcome.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
Example #1: Build and grow your email list
Without an email list, you can’t do email marketing.
And if you have a small list of, say, 33 email addresses, you’ll never get the full benefits of email marketing either.
The first step is to build your email list.
You’ll achieve this by choosing an agency with experience executing list-building campaigns to get your first 100, 1,000, or 10,000 email subscribers.
Take yourself, for example.
You won’t give a company your email address for nothing, right?
Absolutely not! We all get enough spam as it is.
Similarly, most people would only subscribe to your email list in exchange for something valuable.
In the digital marketing world, this could be an ebook, a checklist, or other forms of relevant content promoted to the audience whose emails you’re targeting. Consider choosing an email marketing agency with experience creating and promoting amazing content. The better the content, the faster your list will grow.
Example #2: Increase your email open and click-through rates
Low open and click-through rates will destroy your list.
If your open and click-through rates are low, you’ll run into a cascading series of problems:
- Your audience isn’t seeing your offers. That’s less revenue.
- Email service providers like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo will notice your low performance. Then they’ll flag you as spam or stop delivering your email altogether.
- Now your open and click rates get even worse.
- Even if you improve your campaigns later, they won’t deliver nearly the same results.
- Improving your email reputation is REALLY hard.
Instead of risking this email cycle of doom, it’s a good idea to partner with an agency that knows what they’re doing.
They can look for early signs that something’s wrong, course-correct early, and keep your email reputation safe.
In this case, look for an email marketing agency that is exceptional at developing strategies and tactics to help increase your open and click-through rates.
The two examples above were to show that your goals and desired outcome with email marketing go a long way in determining what agency to choose.
They were also to demonstrate that no agency is a one-size-fits-all for all email marketing problems.
Set your goals first, then look for an agency that specializes in those goals.
6 Characteristics That Make a Great Email Marketing Agency
There are hundreds of email agencies out there. Maybe thousands.
And if you visit the websites of these agencies, every single one claims to be the best.
But what characteristics make an email marketing company great? And how can you vet and choose an agency to work with?
1. Great Content Creation
Think of all the emails you receive from other companies.
Do you know why you can’t wait to open and engage with some, but would ignore, delete, or unsubscribe from others right off the bat?
In most cases, it’s because you don’t value the content of those emails.
Amazing content keeps people opening and reading. Then when you send an offer, they’re willing to consider it.
Great content is the core of any serious email strategy.
Check to see if they focus on a process for crafting engaging email content. The best ones always do.
2. An Impressive Client Portfolio
Excellent email marketing agencies didn’t achieve that status overnight.
They worked with dozens or hundreds of brands to execute successful email campaigns.
Because of this, they should have plenty of top-tier brands in their portfolio. And case studies that show you exactly what was done.
Not all of this can be shared publicly. But when you’re exploring options with agencies, ask for examples during your initial calls. The agency should have plenty of examples to point to. If they struggle to come up with some, look elsewhere.
It’s a great way to quickly vet agencies of all types.
3. Thought Leadership
Exceptional email marketing agencies are always on top of email trends. It’s constantly evolving and you don’t want to work with someone that’s using tactics from 5 years ago.
An easy way to check for this is the agency’s blog, YouTube channel, or their own email list. Within 20-30 minutes of consuming their content, you should learn a ton. And it should all be cutting edge.
That’s a good sign they’ll be able to apply those same tactics to your email campaigns.
4. Deep Expertise with Email Tools
Great agencies will have used them all.
If you ask them which tools are best, you’ll quickly learn:
- Which are most popular
- Strengths and weaknesses of each
- The handful of tools to avoid
But don’t worry about which tool they recommend. Pay attention to their depth of knowledge when speaking with them. They’ll probably start by recommending a single tool. Then as soon as you ask any follow up questions, they should have plenty of qualifications, nuance, and detail to their answers.
You should get the feeling that the agency knows this stuff cold. If not, find someone that does.
5. Has Specific Rules to Avoid Spam
If you’ve been hit hard by spam flags, you might need an agency that specializes exclusively on reviving domains with negative email reputations.
Most of us don’t need to go that far.
But you absolutely want to work with an agency that knows how to stay out of the spam box.
Also ask new agencies about how they stay out of spam, their processes to keep things clean, and early warnings that they like to look for.
You should be blown away with the thoroughness of their answers.
If not, keep looking.
6. A Great Company Culture
By choosing an email marketing agency to work with, you’re entering a business relationship with another business entity.
So, before you proceed, check that their company culture fits with yours.
Without a good fit on culture, you’re going to get email campaigns that don’t jive with your brand. You could anger your audience and turn them away. Or play things too safe and leave money on the table.
There’s no right answer on culture, just make sure their culture and yours fit well.
Ask for samples of recent campaigns that they’ve done. They’re likely to do similar work for you.
How to Work With an Email Marketing Agency
Working with an exceptional email marketing agency isn’t like dashing into a grocery store, filling your cart, and dashing out in a few minutes.
There are steps you’ll need to take that ensure your partnership with one leads to business growth via email marketing.
1. Align your in-house team
Most email marketing agencies won’t work in isolation but as an extension of your in-house digital marketing team.
Hence, to ensure a smooth partnership between you and them, you should:
- Have meetings with stakeholders in your company to align relevant teams on the need to work with an email agency.
- Communicate how the agency’s work would impact your business and why it is necessary.
- As needed, appoint employees to work directly with the email marketing agency.
Doing this ensures team alignment between the agency and your company. Also, it keeps the agency in sync with your values, company culture, and the goals for choosing to work with them.
2. Discovery session
As you first go out to contact an email marketing agency, they won’t jump straight into sending you a proposal or contract.
The best email marketing agencies act like doctors who only prescribe after they diagnose.
And to start diagnosing your challenges and goals with email marketing, expect to fill an inquiry form, followed by a discovery session.
3. Research & strategic recommendations
Before making a specific proposal, any good email marketing agency will do an extensive round of research on your current campaigns. This will include things like:
- Signing up for your lists and looking at your current campaigns
- Mapping out your signup flows
- Checking landing pages and signup offers
- Looking through social profiles and email funnels from other channels
Once they have a complete picture of where you are today, they’ll be able to put a proposal together.
4. A working contract with project deliverables
A typical work duration with an email marketing agency spans several months.
To take on that kind of scope,agencies usually prefer to send a formal proposal and contract for you to sign.
Take your time and this stage and go through the proposal in detail. You should feel great about every piece. If you have any concerns, work through them now. It’s really easy to change scope, budget, or goals now.
Once you fee good about it, get the contract signed.
Expect an onboarding process customized for your team after you sign the contract.
During this step, the agency will usually ask for all your internal document and tool access. Expert to send them invites for your Google Analytics and email tools. Also put together every piece of internal documentation that you have on your email campaigns. The more info they have, the better.
From here, the agency will get started on the work and should have regular check-in calls along the way.
How to Find The Right Email Marketing Agency For You
To choose an email marketing agency that’s right for your needs, the steps I recommend are:
- Be sure about your business goals and desired outcomes from email marketing.
- Consider agencies with the characteristics above.
- Choose an agency with expertise in the area you need help with. And where possible, also prioritize those that have worked with reputable brands.
- Finally, know that email is part of your digital, and by extension, content marketing strategy. Hence, it’s best to choose a company with bandwidth for those.
To help, we reviewed hundreds of agencies and found these to be the best.
The 5 Top Email Marketing Agencies
#1 Neil Patel Digital – Best For Email Content
Every time you send an email, people unsubscribe.
That hurts the long-term prospects of your email list.
Since every email has a real cost and makes your list smaller, it’s best to make them count.
The best way to do this is with great content. Your unsubscribes will be lower, your list will be more engaged, and you’ll generate more revenue in the long-run.
Content, including email content, is one of the core areas of expertise at my agency, Neil Patel Digital.
#2. InboxArmy – Best for Full-service Email Management
InboxArmy comes highly recommended, as a full-service email marketing and management company.
This agency’s services include email strategy development, template design, email automation, and other.
InboxArmyserves companies such as Airbnb, LandCentral, and Jockey. If you’re looking for serious email pros for your B2C company, I’d reach out to them.
#3 Fix My Churn – Best for SaaS Onboarding Emails and churn
Fix My Churn works with SaaS companies.
User onboarding emails are a very unique skill set. The content, CTAs, sending logic and tools are completely different. If you want to improve your SaaS emails, you really need experts in this area.
Fix My Churn applies top-level SaaS copywriting skills to create email onboarding and churn-eliminating sequences to turn free and trial users into happy, long-term customers.
Led by its Founder and SaaS email expert, Val Geisler, Fix My Churn has earned a reputation as an email marketing agency for SaaS companies like Buffer, Aweber, Podia, InVision, and others.
I’d also consider them if your have any type of subscription offer.
#4 Action Rocket – Best for Enterprise Email
Action Rocket needs no introduction as an email marketing agency for enterprise companies.
This agency even works with leading email software companies like Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, Litmus, and others to shape the email marketing space.
Using its vast years of experience, Action Rocket strategizes and develops custom email and CRM programs for enterprise companies, including Marks & Spencer, the BBC, and others.
If you want serious muscle behind your email strategy, reach out to them.
#5 SmartMail – Best for Ecommerce Email
SmarMail is our recommended email marketing agency for ecommerce businesses.
Every business model has its own unique challenges with email and ecommerce is no exception.
You need cart abandonment emails, promotional emails, lifescycle emails for repurchases, and receipts with guaranteed email deliverability.
This agency excels at helping online stores acquire, convert, and retain customers by strategizing and launching email marketing campaigns based on automated triggers across buyers’ lifetime cycle:
SmartMail has an excellent track record, helping ecommerce companies generate about $187 million in revenues. Their clients include French Connection, Skechers, and others.
Get Email Right to Drive Growth
Email marketing isn’t going anytime soon. It is here to stay.
And it generates a ton of cash. Choosing the right agency will get you that growth a lot sooner.
Set your goals, then start looking for the right agency for you.
Even if you plan on doing email inhouse, the right agency can get everything set up correctly from the beginning. That will save your team a ton of time and prevent disastrous mistakes like getting all your emails stuck in the spam folder.