Do you want to know the secret to a stellar email marketing campaign? Are you wondering how your competitors attract subscribers, maintain a sizable email list and align it all with their overall digital marketing strategy? Here’s a hint: It’s all about choosing the right partner.
Luckily, an email marketing agency is just the kind of partnership you need.
As their name suggests, email marketing agencies live and breathe emails. They know everything there is to know about email design, engagement metrics, social media tie-ins, personalization and every other element that’s essential for creating a successful email marketing strategy for any client.
Let’s find out more about email marketing agencies, what they do and how to choose the best one for your business.
Best Agencies at a glance
- Ignite Visibility
- Soap Media
But first: Email Marketing 101
Wait a minute — we’re talking about email here, right? You send emails every day to customers and colleagues alike. Why do you need an email marketing service to handle the details?
Well, email marketing is more complex than it appears at first glance. If you want to see real results, you need to understand and leverage that complexity — often with the help of an email marketing agency.
Here are just a few reasons you shouldn’t tackle this challenge alone:
It’s Becoming More Important
Email marketing received 7.8% of organizations’ digital marketing budgets in 2022, according to Gartner. Lest that seem small, it was the second-largest share allocated to non-paid channels, behind only SEO. Email is especially critical to B2B marketing, as data from Sopro found that it’s the preferred contact method for 77% of B2B prospects (more than twice that of any other channel!). Combine trends like this with the fast-paced rise of automation and AI-driven email marketing, and it’s clear that email campaigns are in wide use by marketers — which means you’ll have more competition.
It’s Incredibly Effective
As important as social media marketing and organic search are, email marketing continues to play a major role for most marketers — and an incredibly cost-effective one. The typical ROI for email marketing is $36 for every $1 spent, based on data from Litmus, and if you run A/B testing to periodically assess your email campaigns, ROI can be up to 82% greater than it would be if you didn’t. Also, an analysis by Mailchimp found that the average open rate for emails is 20%, ahead of both social media and display advertising in terms of engagement.
Email has the potential to be the most valuable tool in your digital marketing arsenal. However, that’s only true if you know how to handle it properly. If you overwhelm subscribers with pushy promotional emails and overlook key engagement metrics, you’ll lose traction on this channel and potentially jeopardize the rest of your marketing strategy.
You can do a bit of everything with email marketing campaigns. Here are some of marketers’ primary objectives for the channel, according to Mailmodo:
- Newsletters: 83%.
- Promotional: 72%.
- Welcome: 71%.
- Onboarding: 67%.
- Lead nurturing: 61%.
- Surveys: 52%.
And those are just the biggest use cases — they noticeably exclude customer loyalty, sales, and outreach for strategic company partnerships. With such a wide range of options you can deploy, you need an email marketing agency to help keep track of your campaign.
What Does an Email Marketing Agency Do?
It’s clear that a successful email marketing campaign isn’t something you can scribble on the back of a napkin in just one evening. You need support, expertise and a team of marketing professionals — and that’s where email marketing agencies come in.
Like other marketing agencies, an email marketing company helps you navigate the fast-changing landscape of the digital world. They can:
- Gather subscribers: An email marketing service helps expand your client base by attracting subscribers. They’ll research the market and identify opportunities to connect with people who will enjoy your email content.
- Create an email list (or 10): Once you have all those subscribers, your partner agency helps keep track of them. You’ll work together to build email lists for different campaigns.
- Provide content: Emails need subject lines, body copy, calls-to-action (CTAs), custom graphics and more. A digital marketing company can make it happen.
- Manage costs: The cost of email marketing can quickly get out of hand — but not with an email marketing agency keeping an eye on your budget and investments.
- Consult with in-house teams: Already have an expert or 2? No problem — a good email marketing agency offers consulting services to build a relationship with your in-house teams.
- Improve personalization: Segmentation and personalization are crucial for any email marketing strategy. Your agency can help weave these elements into content creation and other parts of your marketing strategy.
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Why You Need an Email Marketing Partner
An email marketing agency doesn’t just write out a strategy and call it a day. Instead, it’s an active participant in your digital marketing approach, helping you make decisions that lead to real results.
Let’s take a closer look at what this partnership can do for you:
Simplify Strategy Creation
Every marketing channel has “rules,” but not one of them has a rulebook. Helpful, right?
The good news is that email marketing agencies are experts in many different channels. They understand what works and what doesn’t, how to utilize the latest trends and when to target certain groups of people. They even know how to send personalized emails that make every subscriber feel like your only client.
The result is an email marketing strategy that is never based on guesswork. You’ll collaborate with professionals who know how to manage every element, from content creation to send time optimization, so your emails have the best possible chance of converting every subscriber into a new client. Better yet, you’ll get a say in every part of your strategy so the end product aligns with your business goals.
Build Email Templates
A monthly newsleter shouldn’t have the same format as your promotional emails, and neither should bear any resemblance to your initial welcome messages. That’s why an email marketing agency helps you build an email template for every need. These easy-to-use, ready-to-go structures can be filled in with different copy depending on your digital strategy. This helps make your email campaigns faster and more efficient, keeping you agile in the fast-moving digital world.
Open rate, list growth rate, email sharing and forwarding, revenue per email — these are just a few key metrics that indicate subscriber engagement. Your partner agency helps build an email campaign around these elements, giving you the support you need to connect with your audience on multiple levels. This, in turn, helps you (and your subscribers) get more value from each email.
All email campaigns create data. If you’re not tracking this information, you won’t have any idea whether your efforts are making a difference. This will be especially critical if you’re trying out an entirely new email marketing tool or strategy, such as generative AI or revamped automation workflows.
An email marketing agency gathers key data and weaves it into a story — one that gives you a complete overview of your results. Better yet, it helps you track every change. This allows you to experiment with different send times, subject lines and other key elements until you find out what works for your email list.
Freelancer, In-House or Agency: Which Is the Best Email Marketing Partner For Me?
Now, you may be asking yourself: “Why specifically do I need an agency to handle my email marketing? Can’t I onboard someone — or a few someones — to manage my campaigns in-house? Or could I rely on freelancers?”
It’s understandable to want to consider alternative options before making any decision about your digital marketing strategy. And there certainly are skilled marketing staff out in the sea of job seekers who’d be more than happy to develop campaigns, craft targeted emails, manage your email marketing platform and track deliverability, CTR and all other critical email KPIs, either on a full-time or contract basis.
Let’s review the pros and cons of employing in-house, freelance or agency marketers for your email campaign needs:
Bringing on full-time employees for email marketing can work out for organizations that are (at least) fairly well-established in their verticals and have marketing departments with proper budgeting for new hires.
In-house staff will certainly be committed to the success of your campaigns. You’ll also have more direct oversight of their activities than you would with a freelancer or an agency, which minimizes risk, and if you’ve hired well, the results can be quite impressive.
On the other hand, hiring the right people for this fairly specialized role isn’t necessarily easy; it can take months to find and secure qualified candidates. That in itself can be costly, and their compensation costs make this option even more expensive.
Entrusting email marketing to a contractor is typically the least expensive option. As such, it may make sense for small businesses and companies with limited marketing resources. Freelancers with email marketing skills can often be just as experienced as candidates seeking permanent positions, so the quality of work (and level of results) can be quite high. You also have the freedom to bring contractors in on an as-needed, case-by-case basis.
However, that flexibility goes both ways: Freelancers who are available for one month may be completely booked two months from now, and finding a new freelancer fast is no easy feat. Also, while it’s highly unlikely that they’ll just “go through the motions” in the work they do on your behalf — their reputation with future clients would suffer if they did — the level of their dedication is unpredictable.
So … What About an Agency?
Well, it’s fair to say that the right email marketing agency for your needs might not be easy to find — not unlike going the full-time or freelance recruiting routes. But once you do, the overall benefits of turning over your email campaigns to a reputable agency are hard to beat.
Working with an email marketing agency requires committing to a partnership, but it’s a flexible one: Often, agencies offer services by subscription, agreeing to provide a specific set of deliverables and ongoing support for a fixed period of time. You pay for exactly what you need and no more. An agency will be highly dedicated to your success, as it aims for the partnership to continue with a renewal or rebuy. An established email marketing agency is also most likely to have exactly the resources your campaign requires, even if your industry or target audience is niche.
Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your agency’s points of contact is essential for success, particularly to track the progress of projects. But all things considered, working with an email marketing agency is your best bet for obtaining high-quality campaigns with quantifiable results, no matter the size of your company or its industry.
Best Email Marketing Agencies
Your business deserves the best email marketing service out there. But with so many choices, how do you know which partner is right for you?
If you’ve seen our picks for Top Content Marketing Agencies, you know we have an eye for this kind of thing. Let’s take a look at the shining stars in email marketing services:
Hey, we deserve a moment in our own spotlight, right?
Brafton is a full-service marketing agency, with expertise from multiple fields that informs our email marketing strategies and recommendations. With teams of content creators, tech experts and digital strategists, we can build campaigns that get the right message to the right people at the right time.
We also help you manage your email list, navigate different email marketing software, improve personalization, leverage email marketing automation and precisely track campaign progress. Also, Brafton’s been honored to receive several recent awards that speak to our quality of service: In 2023, alone, AgencySpotter cited us as a Top Content Marketing Company, and we received two awards from Indigo for our design work (an integral element of our email campaigns’ visual appeal). We also rank No. 3 on Clutch’s list of top content marketing agencies.
In summation: We’d consider it an honor to be your email marketing partner.
As the self-proclaimed “Swiss Army Knife of Email Marketing,” InboxArmy has quite a lot to offer, and serves clients ranging from SMEs to enterprises across many industries.
This email marketing agency is also a full-service provider, offering everything from campaign management to email automation to sophisticated template design and email deliverability optimization. (The latter is notable, as it’s a concern that less thorough email marketers don’t always address as well as they should.) Some of InboxArmy’s biggest clients include Universal, Spotify and Expedia.
3. Ignite Visibility
Ignite Visibility offers custom email strategies, list growth services and other key email marketing resources, all carefully developed and closely overseen by industry experts. It’s notable for its use of a proprietary advanced analytics platform to track email campaign ROI.
The company has also won a variety of awards that highlight its marketing, search engine optimization and even company culture: It was named as one of Clutch’s Top SEO Companies and one of Expertise’s Best Digital Marketing Agencies in 2022, and 2021 saw Ignite cited as one of the Best Places to Work by the San Diego Business Journal.
4. Soap Media
Soap Media might have some whimsical branding — the rubber-duck animation on the homepage is an inspired touch — but it’s quite serious about the effectiveness of its email and digital marketing services.
When it comes to email, Soap Media’s chief priorities are thoughtful, high-quality campaign strategies and fresh approaches to the challenges that come with audience targeting and addressability. As a Google Partner, Meta Business Partner and more, Soap is more than capable of connecting with subscribers in effective ways.
SocialBloom is noteworthy for its fast-paced but carefully structured approach to email marketing: The email team sets weekly benchmarks for campaign development and will adjust its processes on a week-to-week basis if goals aren’t being met.
SocialBloom analyzes its clients’ customer data carefully to generate ideal customer profiles and target the most ready-to-buy prospects. This agency also has the distinction of recently winning some relevant awards: For 2023, Clutch named SocialBloom a Top Company in the Email Marketing and Lead Qualification categories.
Find Your Email Marketing Partner
Are you ready to set aside your email marketing worries once and for all? The key is to choose email marketing experts who see you as a partner — not just another business deal.
At Brafton, we believe in building strong relationships. That’s because we know the best way to promote your business and connect with your clients is to understand who you really are. If you want to learn more about our approach to email marketing, there’s only one thing to do: See it in action.
That’s right: Our own newsletter, The Content Marketer, is the perfect way to watch us work our magic. Subscribe today to get this shining example delivered right to your inbox.
Editor’s Note: Updated September 2023.