Choosing an Email Marketing Agency

Email marketing plays an important role in most marketing campaigns nowadays due to its relatively cheap cost and potential for reaching millions of customers. However, we've all experienced the arrival of a new message in our inbox, only to delete it unopened after deciding it is junk. The last thing you want to do is turn off potential customers simply because you are sending out the wrong sort of mail, or sending out the right sort of mail, but to the wrong people. As such, it is worth spending some time looking around for a reliable email marketing company who will manage this for you.

Before you do this it is worth establishing what you want your email marketing campaign to achieve. Will it be to retain old customers by alerting them about any promotions you are running or notifying them about new services or products you are offering, in which case you'll probably be using databases that have been developed in-house? Or will it be to increase sales by attracting new customers, in which case you will be using opt-in databases of consumers who have chosen to receive promotional advertising? If you are seeking to increase sales, ask yourself how focused the databases are towards a specific demographic, and whether the email marketing company owns them or not, because this will determine how impartial their advice is about which database to use.

Email Marketing Company Checklist

Regardless of your marketing campaign goals, there are a few basic areas that you should investigate to determine how proficient your prospective email marketing agency is:

  • The ability to write good, clear, readable copy in the tone of voice most appropriate for your product. Nothing is less appealing than opening your mail and being confronted by blocks of badly written copy. Check the samples of previous email marketing campaigns the company has been involved in. Ideally the copy should be simple, have clear links to a website or email address, and condensed so that all vital information appears on one screen.
  • Equally, nothing is more appealing than receiving emails that are easy on the eye and structured so you can easily navigate them and understand what they are about. Your potential customer might be opening your message at home, and the last thing they want is anything resembling a work email. This is nothing that a professional HTML designer can't handle, so check that the email marketing organisation has one on their books.
  • Mail should be a personal thing, so ask for ways that your mail can be personalised for individual recipients and particular demographic categories, like people who have chosen a certain clothing brand or leisure activity. Once again, look at the company's previous email marketing campaigns to assess how generic or customised they can be.
  • The first thing we notice of any new message in our inbox is who sent it and what the subject line is. Ask the email marketing company whether any research has been done to identify which subject lines work better than others. Ideally, the subject line should be intriguing and not too salesman-like.
  • Beating the spam blockers isn't just a question of presenting yourself in the right way, but also of hanging out in the right places. For instance, if ISP administrators receive a number of complaints about unwanted emails coming from your address or if they see you consistently send out undeliverable emails, you will be blacklisted as a spammer. Make sure the email marketing company takes the necessary measures so this never happens.
  • Keeping your mailing lists as up to date as possible is also very important, so make sure that the agency has a system for adding email addresses and deleting them if they are returned to sender, sent out in duplicate or invalid. And if people choose to unsubscribe, make sure they stay unsubscribed.
  • Response Handling and Email Tracking Capability

    The previous points have focused on the presentation and form of the emails you send out, but what about the response? In order to ensure that your email campaign is run as professionally and profitably as it can be, you'll want to check that the email marketing agency also has these bases covered:

  • Response handling. Will there be an automated version of your entire sales process attached to the email that includes the necessary legal documentation, response forwarding and auto-response facilities? Will there be somebody at the end of the line if the customer wishes to call up with a query or to make an order?
  • Feedback analysis. Will the email marketing company be able to provide you with comprehensive feedback reports to help you target your marketing more effectively in future campaigns? Can a click tracking programme be implemented that identifies who clicked what, when, and how many times? Has the company enough experience to give advice about the frequency and optimum time that the emails should be sent out? And how broad is the company's customer service support when you wish to contact them regarding a particular issue?
  • Covering the above points should put you in a good position to make an informed decision about which email marketing company you want to hire to help you with your marketing campaign. And remember, if you are blacklisted one too many times, or aren't getting the level of response you feel you should be, you can always start the process again and look for a different agency to work with!