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How to choose your next email marketing agency

Today’s inboxes are noisy and over-crowded spaces. With e-communication competing for the ever-diminishing attention spans of very busy people, some communications may never get opened or clicked on.

This inbox ‘party’ only looks set to grow in popularity. By the end of 2019, it is estimated there will be 29 billion email users around the world. To get a handle on this growth, by 2021 it is forecast there will be 320 billion missives emailed around the globe.

If you are planning an email marketing campaign, probably the most important questions to ask any potential agency are:

  • What value do you add to email communications?
  • How do you ensure my email will get opened?

Catching the eye to get seen in these busy inboxes – with hundreds of emails jostling for position – should be number one priority. And this cannot be a one-off strategy.

Any smart-thinking marketer knows that email marketing is about establishing (and then nurturing) trusted relationships for the long-term. Recipients should be motivated to open your emails time and time again because they know from experience that each one adds value, informs, entertains or leads to opportunities not to be missed.

The ‘readability factor’ is an essential ingredient and the subject line needs to be enticing, intriguing, fun or interesting, capturing the imagination even before the email is opened, which means instant engagement is key. Much like a headline to an article, you need to draw in the reader with a tantalising or teasing introduction.

Therefore, do ask any email marketing agency for examples of their copywriting skills. Whilst its team may be made up of experienced writers, email marketing requires a tightly honed set of creative skills that magic up a succinct and instantly clickable (but subtle) ‘sell’.

These days, it’s all about personalisation and we don’t just mean a ‘Hi Joe’ and the use of ‘you’ or ‘your’ as an opener. Using someone’s name is, of course, the first step in tailored content but other factors come into play to make the experience a personal one. As the agency what detailed information it will draw on to get to know your customers properly. Age, gender and location are starting points but what other data do they investigate – past purchases, birthdates, purchasing behaviour, times and frequency are key. What makes your customer smile? What makes them tick and what makes them click? What personality will the agency adopt on your behalf to suit each demographic?

Increasingly, consumers are looking for a bespoke service that is relatable and inviting. This requires feedback so that an agency can carefully craft relevant email content specifically to suit expectations. Emails that are generic and aimless will only get ‘lost in the mail’.

‘75% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from retailers that personalise (Accenture: Personalisation Pulse Check Survey) and things have moved on from simply starting an email with ‘Hi Russ’. Product recommendations, live updates, notification buttons etc. should become the norm not the vision’

Source: Russ Groombridge, The Drum

How will the email marketing agency ascertain the best frequency and timing to send out emails to your customers? Feedback is essential if your on-going email marketing campaigns are to please customers and keep them returning time and time again, so they should be given the opportunity to tailor their own feed. There should be an option for customers to decide how often they will receive your emails as well as the content within them

The language of email love

  • Speak like a friend not a corporate
  • Create copy that is speaking to one person not a host of people
  • Keep the tone chatty and avoid being too ‘salesy’…
  • …However, deals and discounts can drive sales
  • Break up your emails into short easy-to-read paragraphs with bullet points
  • Illustrate the email with an infographic or high-resolution images
  • Ask questions and offer solutions
  • Once the customers have been segmented, tailor your copy accordingly, using language to suit the different demographics
  • Ensure emails are designed for mobile, tablet and desktop
  • Make them feel special by recommending personalised suggestions
  • Be clever with the subject line – it needs to be eye-catching, customised and clickable
  • Don’t forget those social sharing buttons in the footer
  • Personalise, personalise, personalise
  • Close with a call to action.

Feed off the feedback

The email marketing agency you choose should take time to observe, understand and invest in the behaviour of your customers, so make sure they touch base to reflect on successes and failures and build trust and loyalty.

A well-designed email should make life easy for the recipient and profitable for the brand. Interactive, engaging emails that go directly to where the recipient can make a purchase are ideal.

Of course, very often the email is the only first step in the consumer journey and your chosen agency should advise on the personalisation of the landing page to which you are directing the user. Customised pages are more likely to get positive interactions than a generic homepage.

 ‘66% of online consumers made a purchase
as a result of an email marketing message’

Your chosen email marketing agency should be able to work with your budget, whatever its size, to maximise impact and get a good ROI. Don’t be afraid to cast your net wide to get a range of agencies regarding experience, size and their strengths – so long as they all have credibility and are transparent about their pricing, they remain an option.

Ask for testimonials specifically to do with their email campaigns and (a bit ironic this) call these clients rather than email them – you’re more likely to elicit candid honesty.

At the end of the day, you need to know they can do the job and generate leads and grow your customer base organically with clever messaging.

And once the journey begins, ensure they feedback on what worked, what didn’t and how much each email generated as well as where responses were strong – they need to use these insights to tweak campaigns accordingly.

Most importantly, you need to be able to work with an agency that is prepared to design a beautiful branded and effective email that will keep your customers satisfied.