How do some of the most successful ecommerce businesses market themselves?
It may seem “old school” now, but email marketing remains a highly effective way of drawing in customers to online stores. While studies vary, on average, email open rates are around 21%, while 80% of small to medium businesses rely on email as a retention strategy.
The caveat is that you need to have the right processes in place if you want to break through the noise and be successful with email. For many online retailers, that’s a challenge. You’re managing so many things that it’s easy for email to fall to the back burner.
That’s where finding a reliable ecommerce email marketing agency comes in.
An agency should include a team of experts who know email inside and out and can help you produce effective email campaigns. If you’re ready to find help, it’s essential to find the right help in an ecommerce email marketing agency that will be an excellent fit for your business.
Here’s how you can sort that out:
Finding the Right Ecommerce Email Marketing Agency
If you do a quick search for an email marketing agency, you’ll generally see several choices. It can seem a bit overwhelming when you try to sort through them, but agencies vary, and not all will have specific ecommerce email marketing expertise.
Email marketing agencies are not “one size fits all,” so before selecting yours, pause and sort through some criteria to determine a fit for your business. Ecommerce requires inside knowledge of systems, processes, and the types of emails that can help your business grow. Below are some suggestions from us.
#1. Know Your Goals First
The first step we suggest is to list your specific goals and desired outcomes for email marketing. What is it you’d like to achieve? Defining these goals helps to give you the proper lens through which to evaluate your possible choices. You will be looking for agencies that have helped companies achieve similar goals.
What are some examples of goals for ecommerce businesses?
- To boost your email opt-ins.
- To grow your brand recognition.
- To boost email open rates and click-through rates.
- To increase conversion rates from email.
- To increase your average order value.
- To boost engagement metrics with your audience.
- To grow your numbers of repeat customers.
- To minimize opt-out rates.
- To re-engage inactive subscribers.
- To drive traffic to other channels, such as your social media.
By defining your own goals, you’re creating a checklist to help narrow down email marketing agency choices. If they don’t offer services to answer your goals, you can strike them from your list.
The other side is that having clear goals helps the agency get started a lot quicker. Most will typically want to start with your goals, so they can move on to strategy if you’ve already done this.
#2. Check Out Their Portfolio
Carefully consider these aspects of the email agency’s portfolio:
- Their current or previous clients. Do they work with other ecommerce businesses? Do they have any specific experience with your industry or niche? Have they worked with plenty of other brands before? (Hint: You can often find this information on an “Our Clients” or similar page).
- Their email content. Successful email campaigns begin with content that makes an impact on the reader. The agency should have examples of engaging content and should put a lot of focus into a process for crafting content that sells.
- Their results. An agency may or may not be able to show specific data on their campaign results - that often depends upon the willingness of their clients to be open about it. They may otherwise show general data, although this is less compelling than digging into specifics. Another thing to check is client testimonials. Agencies that have done well for their clients usually have no trouble eliciting testimonials on their work. Look for those to be attributable to an identifiable business. (And if you want to go an extra step, you can always reach out to those businesses and ask for their views about the agency).
- Thought leadership. This aspect is not always apparent, but you’ll often find those top agencies are active in the email marketing space and publicly on top of email marketing trends. They may have content, including blogs or social media posts sharing their thoughts.
#3. The Team
An ecommerce email marketing agency is there to act as a marketing partner for your business. You can expect to work with, or at least interact with, their team often across the production of your email content.
The bottom line is that anyone with whom you work closely should be a good fit for your business. The team should consist of ecommerce experts who work with transparent processes to create great content. Their company values should also line up with your own.
Importantly, they should be people who are easy for you or your team to work with, too. Team dynamics should gel well with your business and create a positive atmosphere for successful work.
How will you know? This aspect is often something to dig further into when you have a shortlist of potential agencies. However, you can also look at testimonials in the first instance.
#4. Their Work Process
Ecommerce email marketing agencies come in different forms. For example, many (including SmartMail) work remotely and can partner with businesses in different locations. Some agencies operate on a more local or regional basis.
Consider what your preferences are for working with someone. Some companies prefer to stay within their timezone or to have the opportunity to meet in person. If that’s you, you need to narrow it down by location first.
If the location doesn’t matter to you, consider how you prefer to work with an agency. For example, you might prefer to operate solely by email, or maybe you’d like a weekly update phone call. You might want someone dedicated to your account, or it might not matter if you receive great content results.
It’s important to find a fit for your preferred process because you can end up frustrated with the need to adapt.
#5. Expertise with Email Marketing Tools
Great ecommerce email marketing agencies use almost every common email tool available. They’ll have a deep understanding of how various tools work, how to get the optimal use from them, and their relative strengths and weaknesses.
You’ll find that some large email marketing agencies want to use their own proprietary software. Others will work with whatever email marketing software you already use. This preference can be a checklist item for you - do they work with your particular tool, or will you need to adapt?
Look for expertise and depth in terms of email marketing tool knowledge. An agency with the right experience works much more efficiently to optimize your campaigns.
As a side note, if you’re unsure about your email marketing tool preferences, consider any other tools you use, such as CRM or sales software. It is often beneficial if your chosen email tool integrates with other essential software you use to streamline how you share data between them.
#6. Customer Service and Additional Services
Ease of communication and effective customer service processes are important considerations. What is the communication process? Does the agency respond within a reasonable timeframe? Are they available during the hours you work? Does communication seem easy?
Another aspect to look for is the depth and breadth of their services. You might begin your relationship with an email marketing agency with a specific service in mind, but what if you want to expand upon those later? See what else they offer that might fit you as you grow.
An ecommerce email marketing agency becomes an important partner for your business and plays a crucial role in success within the email channel. It’s always the best policy to pause and consider some criteria before hiring an agency.
The six areas we’ve outlined above are critical for having a fruitful relationship with your chosen email agency. You need a team with the collective experience, expertise, and proven results to take your email strategy to the next level.