Hiring an Email Marketing Company – 12 Questions to askAuthor: Jamie | Filed under: Email Marketing
Email has fast become the most important means of communication for business. If your marketing strategy includes mass mail-outs, then an email marketing partner is something to consider.
If you choose to go it alone, you risk getting black booked as a spammer. Using a third party, email marketing company enables you to deliver professional communications which help build stronger relationships with your prospects and existing clients.
What to ask prospective email marketing companies?
There are plenty of email marketing companies out there, so you’ll want to make sure you choose the right one for you. Here are 12 questions to help you select an email marketing company:
1. How much does it cost?
Providers should offer different packages for different sized companies. Blue chip companies will likely send emails to hundreds of thousands of targets. It’s unlikely that a small to medium size business will have a targeted contact base this large. So make sure you get a package or pay per send deal which is right for you. Shopping around could save you money.
2. Will I be tied into a contract?
Email marketing doesn’t necessarily work for everybody. So don’t get sucked into a 24 month contract. Try to sign up to a package which gives you the flexibility you want.
3. Is the dashboard easy to understand?
You’ll want to take a look at the dashboard or control panel. If you’re creating and editing the content yourself, you don’t need an over-complicated system which takes up all of your time. What you see is what you get editors (WYSIWYG) can range from the user friendly to the user infuriating, so check it out.
4. What type of reporting tools are available?
Reporting is one of the most important functions of email marketing. Without it, you won’t be able to see who’s opened your email, the number of hard bounces, whether your email was forwarded to a friend and the number of hits on click-through links. This is all crucial information, essential to developing an effective relationship with your email community.
5. Do I have access to templates and designers?
You may not be a graphic designer, so using existing templates or having your own branded template created will ensure your email campaigns look professional and attract attention. Check to see if you can copy campaigns – that’s a great time saver. And check whether you can edit what the company build for you. Sometimes a campaign template will need a quick tweak and if you can do it yourself instead of having a new template built, you’ll save yourself time and money.
6. Do they provide technical support?
Hands up who sometimes forgets their password? Who has tried the off and on trick and still needs a bit more help? If you’re outsourcing a technical service, you will want the reassurance that support is available as and when you need it – at no extra cost.
7. How long before I start to see results?
Ask the company whether they can provide some statistics to show you how successful your campaigns could be. Having real life examples and an idea of numbers and timings gives you a better idea of what to expect and when.
8. Who are their clients?
Going to a large provider is not always the safest option. Companies, whatever the industry tend to give more time to their larger clients. You should also look into the type of clients they have. Is this company experienced at dealing with clients in your sector? They might be able to give you some helpful hints and tips to get your email campaigns off to a flying start.
9. Do they have subscriber lists?
You may well have your own contact list, which is great. But if you’re not in that position or you’d like a broader audience demographic, then buying or renting lists can prove fruitful. Make sure you check out their sources to ensure you’re comfortable with their list generation.
10. Do they have A/B test function?
A/B test function is a handy little tool. It allows you to use dynamic content in order to test the success of different “from” addresses, subject lines, content titles and images. It should also allow you to send your campaign at different times depending on time zones and countries if that information is available. These tests will be done across your target list so you get a great idea of what works and what doesn’t.
11. Do they offer free trials?
Try before you buy is a great way to check that what they’ve told you really holds up. You should be able to test all or most of the functions and actually send one or more test campaigns over a set period of time.
12. How robust is their infrastructure?
The last thing you want is to send an email only to find out that their server goes down. That could mean anything from your emails not being sent at a specific time or having your recipients unable to click on links or download content. Find out about their hardware redundancy and ensure that they have multiple, high-speed connections to minimise any downtime.
What do you think? Are there any other questions you’d add to this list?
Image Credit: Billy Alexander