The 5 Best Email Marketing Agencies in 2020 (and 8 Questions to Ask Them)


Imagine you just bought an Indy racing team. Who would you rather put behind the wheel, Mario Andretti or your Uncle A.J.? Unless your Uncle is four-time Indy 500 winner AJ Foyt, you want a pro like Mario behind the wheel. Skill and experience are an invaluable advantage.

Email is the most powerful weapon you have in your marketing arsenal. In the eCommerce industry, email campaigns drive 19.8% of all online transactions. Behaviorally triggered email campaigns can generate 306% better ROI than non-triggered email marketing messages. To wield your most powerful tool to its full advantage and get the maximum possible returns, you need to get the best email marketing agency in your corner.

When you drill down into the differences between the email marketing results of leaders and laggards, the results are particularly staggering. The top 20% of companies have 14 times higher ROI on email marketing than the bottom 20% of companies.

If you’re looking to close the gap between your current email marketing results and your full potential, you want to find the best email marketing agencies to work with. In this post, we list the top agencies for 2020. We’ll also give you the right questions to ask to make sure your agency can help you win.

The Top 5 Email Marketing Agencies in 2020 (and 8 Questions to Ask Them)

  • FulcrumTech
  • StraightNorth
  • IndieMark
  • Wpromote
  • SmartMail

There’s a lot of moving pieces in an effective email marketing campaign for eCommerce. A high-conversion campaign requires a purpose-built strategy for marketing automation, customer segmentation, design, and copywriting. Your email arsenal needs to leverage customer data to acquire, convert, and retain eCommerce customers.

At SmartMail, we specialize in delivering high-converting trigger-based email campaigns for eCommerce companies, all done for you. That level of specificity means we aren't the best fit for everyone. So, we've compiled a list of the best email marketing agencies for you to consider.


FulcrumTech is a full-service email marketing agency with over 10 years experience delivering on email marketing strategy for clients in a variety of industries. Fulcrum Tech is certified or partnered with Salesforce, HubSpot, and Listrak. The agency offers end-to-end email marketing, which begins with a strategic assessment of client needs. Other service categories include:

  • Email campaign management
  • Email service provider implementation
  • Email deliverability

In addition to these full agency services, FulcrumTech offers technology for email analytics and an email ROI optimization tool. Case studies indicate a successful track record of implementing interactive email content and newsletters for clients in industries like healthcare, mobility, publishing, and finance.

One FulcrumTech client at an independent non-fiction publisher writes, “I’ve been more than thrilled with the newsletters FulcrumTech has prepared for my organization…[T]hey have flawlessly captured the market’s language and tone in engaging articles.”

RELATED READING: How Much Does an eCommerce Email Marketing Agency Cost?


StraightNorth is a comprehensive internet marketing agency that provides a broad menu of services to clients in numerous market specializations. Founded in 1997 in Chicago, this nationwide group currently has in-house specialists distributed across eight locations in major cities. StraightNorth’s areas of specialization include:

  • SEO
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) management
  • Display advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Web design
  • Graphic design

The StraightNorth website lists 28 “markets,” or vertical specialties, including agriculture, aviation, marine, real estate, and hospitality. StraightNorth’s menu of email marketing services includes small business and enterprise offerings to research email best practices, execute strategy and production, report results, and optimize performance. The agency’s talent for email marketing includes designers, copywriters, UX specialists, and account managers.

Client case studies indicate that StraightNorth’s email agency helped insurance company Mavco achieve a high open-rate using tactics such as responsive design and client education. New call-to-action


IndieMark is a full-service email marketing agency with a stated mission to help clients “generate loyalty and more revenue.” Founded in 2008, this Augusta, Georgia-based email agency has been described as “the Michael Jordans of email marketing” by client John Getze, VP of Marketing at game development brand KIXEYE.


IndieMark offers a wide range of services for technology, strategy, and execution. Clients can partner with the agency to plan, create, deploy, and automate email marketing campaigns. The BlackBox service by IndieMark is a subscription-based dataset for email risk assessment.

IndieMark also lists integration experience creating email executions with platforms such as Marketo, MailChimp, Eloqua, SilverPop, and Bronto. While IndieMark doesn’t cite any specializations in industry verticals, they have experience as a full-service provider for clients in B2B, B2C, and non-profit fields.

RELATED READING: Email Marketing Consultant vs. Agency: Which Is Best for You?


Wpromote is a digital marketing agency that specializes in a “challenger” mindset, a brand value of continually pushing the boundaries to improve results. Founded in 2001 as a dedicated pay-per-click (PPC) agency, the company has grown and expanded to offer client services in paid search, SEO, content, social media, creative services, digital marketing intelligence, and email marketing.

While the headquarters are still based in El Segundo, CA, the Wpromote team has expanded significantly during the past 18 years. After acquiring three other independent marketing agencies and opening seven additional offices nationwide, “the challenger agency” is now the largest independent digital agency in the US.


Wpromote’s service offerings for email include strategy and execution to help clients achieve more personalization, stronger segmentation, improved reporting, and better marketing experiments. Clients can partner with Wpromote to create custom campaign workflows tailored by customer persona.

One Wpromote client in the wireless communications industry partnered to solve persistent deliverability issues. Today, according to the agency’s website, the client has achieved 98% deliverability and a three-fold improvement in customer engagement with email.


SmartMail is an eCommerce-only email marketing agency. We specialize in delivering high-converting trigger-based email campaigns, all Done For You (DFY).

Our email “dream team” of internal talent includes experts in strategy, design, coding, and client success. Our staff has all the knowledge and experience needed to:

  • Grow email subscriber lists
  • Personalize campaigns
  • Sequence workflows
  • Create responsive email templates
  • Execute data integrations
  • Design A/B tests
  • Segment customers
  • Perform copywriting and design
  • Report on results

Our specialty may be limited to eCommerce, but we’re not limited within this vertical. We help online merchants like Skechers, Cotton On, City Chic, and French Connection improve strategy and execution throughout the entire customer lifecycle with a broad range of initiatives such as welcome, cart abandonment, post-purchase, win-back, and replenishment campaigns.

The average SmartMail client unlocks results that are anything but average, such as campaigns that yield as much as 29x ROI. The average SmartMail client experiences as a 12-fold increase in click-through-rate and more than doubles the average revenue per email sent. That’s why Deeon Brown, the CMO of DailySteals says, “SmartMail helped us unlock and cash in on some massive revenue growth opportunities. Their strategy and approach to implementation were fantastic!”

The average “DIY” email campaign doesn’t happen overnight. Internal email initiatives can take, on average, 9-12 months to go live. Depending on the agency you partner with, you may experience similar results. SmartMail’s difference includes best-of-class speed and a unique onboarding process. This allows us to bring client eCommerce email campaigns live in just 2-3 weeks and deliver 17x ROI in the first month.

Learn more about our services here.

Questions You Should Ask an Email Marketing Agency

At SmartMail, we know our lane, and we stick to it. We do trigger-based email marketing for eCommerce brands because we know just how powerful that channel is.

We speak to marketing pros every day who are trying to unlock results and find an agency partner. Based on this experience, we’ve curated a list of questions that you should ask a prospective email agency partner during the pre-sale consultation phase.

Do you offer triggered email campaigns?

Triggered campaigns rely on marketing automation rules and customer behavioral data to trigger messages that are personalized to the right customer at the right time. Efforts to improve segmentation are correlated to 300 percent improvements in campaign results.

How will you help us grow our list?

There are a lot of sketchy and unethical ways to grow your email list. There are also some effective tactics, namely high-quality lead generation. Ideally, your partner should know how to help clients increase subscribers by generating qualified leads.

What makes you the best?

The right email marketing agency should be able to tell you a clear story about how they turn their clients' investment into revenue. Other things that can set the best agencies apart include the sophistication of email campaigns and tactics used for lead growth.

What ROI could we expect to see?

Any ethical agency will tell you that ROI depends, and your results can vary according to some variables. However, they’ll also be able to tell you the average ROI they drive for clients. Our customers generally unlock at least a 29x ROI. That means a $1,000 monthly payment to SmartMail usually results in $29,000 in additional monthly sales.

What platforms do you work with?

While we prefer working on our proprietary platform because of the efficiencies we've built into the system, we will work in other email platforms, some of which we have proficiency in (the good ones!). Make sure the agency you are considering has or is willing to develop expertise in your current platform if you want to stick with it.

Do you require long-term contracts?

Don’t sign a long-term contract with an agency you don’t trust. If they fail to deliver results, you want the flexibility to find someone who’s a better fit. SmartMail provides month-to-month services to customers instead of stringent, long-term contract requirements.

How much of my time will you require?

An agency partner shouldn’t require more time than you can spare, especially if you want to fully outsource your email marketing to a DFY provider. Ask about how much time is needed to onboard new clients, and how the agency handles strategy and campaign approvals.

How long will it take to get campaigns live?

Every week or month you spend waiting to take new campaigns live is another week of wasted potential revenue. An agency should help you execute email campaigns at the speed of business. SmartMail offers an industry-leading 21-day guarantee to clients with an average 17x ROI in the first month.

The DIY eCommerce Email Marketing Playbook

Are you curious about the exact formula for eCommerce email marketing success? You can take a page from the SmartMail playbook. This free resource includes everything you need to know to start driving at least 40% of your eCommerce revenue from email marketing.

Learn the details to DIY in this resource, which covers templates, timing, messaging, and campaign categories. Download your copy of the Email Marketing Campaign Playbook today.


Download the eCommerce Email Automation Playbook

Learn How To Drive At Least 40% Of Your Revenue From Email Marketing.