When it comes to email marketing, you have two options. On one side of the coin, you can hire an email marketing consultant who'll share their expertise to help get you on the right track. They'll help you take your campaigns to the next level, so you can create harder-hitting emails.
On the other side, you can hire an agency. They'll still improve your campaigns, but they're also going to handle it all for you.
There are benefits to each, but they also have their own drawbacks.
We know that an agency isn't the best fit for everyone. But, neither is a consultant. So, in this article, we’re going to explore the differences between an email marketing consultant vs. an agency, so you can better understand which one is the best fit for your needs.
Email Marketing Consultant vs. Agency: The Pros and Cons
While you could argue for each, there are specific situations that lend towards needing a consultant or an agency. Ultimately, it comes down to your company's current size and goals. A new eCommerce store has different priorities than one breaking the $5 million revenue mark.
Interestingly, however, there are situations where both agencies and consultancies are viable for both companies. And while there may not be an absolute answer, if you understand the pros and cons of each, you can see where they fit into your business's plan.
1. What's the Difference Between a Consultant and an Agency?
The main difference between a consultant and an agency is that one offers guidance and strategy to reach your goals. The other does that, plus the legwork. Think of it as Guided Do-It-Yourself (Consultant) vs Fully Outsourced Done-For-You (Agency).
A consultancy is hired to create a solution to a problem. Companies hire a consultant when they need an external set of eyes to assist. The solution can include strategies, frameworks, and data analysis that helps get the company on the right track. Consultants are often looking at the bigger picture so the company can execute the fine details.
An agency provides highly skilled individuals to assist in the problem. Like a consultant, agencies can help identify the solution to a problem, but they'll also work through the tasks required. An agency relies on its team's specialized experience to deliver results the client wouldn't have been able to achieve themselves.
2. The Pros and Cons of an Email Marketing Consultant
If you have a large staff, especially one that's well-trained, a consultant may be enough to get your team executing strong campaigns. While a consultant may not be drafting each email, their guidance on how to engage your audience with specific triggers, and how to filter segments, can put a strategy in your hands that breaks through any roadblocks that held you up.
Prices vary based on experience and the scope of the project, but consultants can be hired for reasonable rates that match the size of your company. If you're a smaller business, you can find freelance consultants who'll get you on the right track, and as you grow, you can consider firms that provide teams to look into your problem.
Consultants will build relationships with more than just the CMO, giving them better insights into the business as a whole. This is useful for extensive problems that span further than just your marketing team. For instance, if your products aren't delivering on what they promise, it could be a major reason why your promotional campaigns are falling flat.
While consultants can provide expert strategies, if you don't have the resources to execute, their deliverables are useless. A consultant is most effective when you have all the personnel and tools required to follow their guidance.
Since many companies will hire individual consultants, there's also the risk of your project coming to a halt. If moving forward hinges on an individual, and they're not available, you're stuck waiting for further guidance. While this is rarely an issue, it's important to note that you don't have full control over the project, even if it's your team conducting the work.
Another rare instance is that freelance consultants work under a civil law agreement and could potentially leave your job without completing the work. Since maintaining a positive reputation is critical with consulting, most will fulfill their obligations. It's imperative, however, that you do your homework before hiring a consultant to ensure they'll deliver.
3. The Pros and Cons of an Email Marketing Agency
Agencies offer strategic and tactical advice to build your email campaigns. And because the agency executes the strategies produced, the team is constantly learning and developing best practices that enhance their skills.
With an agency, you're getting the combined experience of all of the team members, not just a single individual. When it comes to creating complicated lifecycle campaigns that implement the full spectrum of email goals, this makes an agency one of the best choices you can make.
Because agencies work on deadlines to produce deliverables from the agreed-upon scope, there's less chance of your project being put on hold. Instead, they'll continue executing until the project is complete, and if any pivots are required, they can generally be conducted on the fly.
Additionally, many agencies offer a strict consultancy package. So, if you're impressed with an agency's portfolio, but don't want to pay for the full service, you may still be able to receive guidance on doing it yourself.
One of the largest cons of hiring an agency is onboarding. After hiring a team, you'll need to spin them up on your company's style guide to ensure branding is consistent across your channels. If you haven't produced these documents yet, this could prove to be a challenge. Most experienced agencies are used to working with new companies, and this isn't often a problem.
Some agencies aren't as transparent with their pricing. You'll be provided with a quote, only to learn later that the email marketing platform wasn't included in the cost. You may also find yourself nudged into long-term contracts when you're only looking for a short-term solution. This isn't how all teams operate, though, and you'll find some who offer transparent pricing and contracts on a month-to-month basis.
Email Marketing Consultant vs. Agency: Determining Your Needs
There is no one size fits all solution for email marketing assistance. What’s best for you might not be what’s best for someone else.
But, if you’re looking for a team that's responsive, experienced, and produces an exceptional ROI, consider requesting a proposal from SmartMail. We'll provide you with a six-month roadmap that's sure to lead to substantial revenue growth, and with our automation experience, you won't have to lift a finger.