Do you need an email marketing consultant?
Do you realize that on average, we make roughly 35,000 choices every day?! From personal preferences to business decisions, we determine how we proceed on numerous options placed in front of us. (We can debate the pros and cons of deciding to actually conduct that count later.)
One area of choices for businesses is whether to manage tasks in-house or to outsource them. Email marketing is one task many are choosing to get some assistance with from an email marketing consultant.
One reason has to do with the growing complexity of creating and strategically sending those messages. With all the methods of communicating with prospects and customers today, many businesses are asking if email marketing is really the right choice for them. Is this how people still communicate?
Let me assure you that yes, your prospects and customers do indeed still communicate via email. And they are looking to hear from you via this channel. But do you have a good database to track and manage your contacts? Do you have aligned CRM and marketing software systems?
If you can’t answer affirmatively to these two questions, you may need an email marketing consultant.
The second reason for hiring an email marketing consultant has to do with resources. Is your business really ready and set up to do it right?
In this camp there are two good reasons for outsourcing your email marketing:
- Your internal resources are heavily skewed to one area.You could have the resources and expertise to create compelling content, but maybe your team is thin on developing ongoing strategies to effectively launch and manage email campaigns. Or it’s just the opposite – great strategies, but no one in-house to write the quality content you need.
- Your team is limited by time constraints. In this situation, your team has the expertise and experience to develop, design, and launch great email marketing campaigns, but not enough resources to manage this with any consistency to be effective long term.
If you find yourself in either one of these situations, hiring an email marketing consultant could offer some real benefits to your business with brand messaging, marketing automation, lead nurturing, relationship management and more.
What can an email marketing consultant do for you?
Okay, so maybe you could use some help with your email marketing. What exactly does that mean, and what will you really get in return for your investment?
First and foremost, understand what you are paying for. Are you actually hiring an email marketing consultant or paying for email marketing tools? Both have their place, but their services are vastly different.
Email marketing tools are online services that allow you to create, manage, send and track your email messages. Many of them are quite robust and have a lot to offer, especially for smaller businesses. The key distinction here is that you are still doing the work. The tools are there to help make the process easier and more manageable.
An email marketing consultant, on the other hand, is a person (or more likely a team of people) who manage your email marketing on your behalf. Big difference.
When researching what a consultant has to offer, you should be seeing a variety of email marketing services and campaign options like:
- Building brand awareness
- Lead generation and nurturing
- Enhancing customer relationships
- Improving website traffic and conversions
- Establishing industry status as experts in your field
- Product or service promotions
Email marketing consultants act as an extension of your marketing program, using email as the primary vehicle of communication. And if you are using inbound marketing as part of your business strategy, having someone (or a team of someones) who can make sure your email marketing fits within that strategy is critical.
Incidentally, if you’re new to inbound marketing, check out this guide.
What should you look for before hiring an email marketing consultant?
So if resources are limited, and the growing complexities of email marketing seem overwhelming, here are 16 things you should consider before signing on the dotted line with any email marketing consultant.
Evaluate their experience and knowledge in the following areas
- Email design and development. Make sure you will receive branded email designs that have been customized to your needs. This doesn’t mean using a templated design with just your logo and brand colors added. Find someone with experience in software development who can build email layouts based on how you need to use them.
- Content creation. If you need assistance with writing the content of your emails, ask about their creation and review process, make sure they understand your tone and style, and ask for samples to review from similar companies to yours.
- Digital marketing. Does the email marketing consultant you are considering understand digital marketing today? There should be a strategy involved that fits within your larger marketing objectives. Avoid consultants who suggest a random email blast where the only goal is to get your name in front of as many contacts as possible.
- Campaign development. Rarely is email marketing a one-and-done activity. Look for an email marketing consultant who can create evergreen lead nurturing workflows and email campaigns to support larger marketing initiatives.
- SEO. Will your consultant take the time to make sure your emails are properly optimized for search? Do they know what that means? From understanding how your audience is engaging with your existing content to setting up the backend of your email correctly, ask about their knowledge in this area.
- Past results. While you shouldn’t expect the same results as the business down the street, you can get a glimpse of what the email marketing consultant is capable of. This can also give you some insight into what email marketing data they are tracking.
- Your business and industry. What do they know about your business market already? It’s probably best not to partner with someone who has never worked with clients in your business sector. There will be enough details they need (and should) learn about you already.
Evaluate the services offered and what you are paying for
- Process and work style. Every email marketing consultant works a little differently so find out what their process is. What is the review process? What is your level of input? How long can you expect a project to take?
- Client involvement. How involved you are in process will depend on the project, as well as your comfort level with your consultant. However, you should also expect the costs to be reflective of this. Define the work ahead of time and decide if they are there to assist you or to manage your projects for you.
- Recommendations. Along with your level of involvement, how will they partner with you? Will they tell you if you are requesting options that go against best practices? Will they suggest options that could improve your campaigns? Ask about the level of support they can offer.
- A/B testing. Part of the complexity of email marketing is the multitude of variables in play. Ask how they account for this in terms of testing variables like subject lines, copy, CTA’s, format, etc.
- Result metrics and analysis. Uncover how your prospective email marketing consultant will measure email campaign success. What email metrics do they review and how with the results be delivered to you?
- Integrations. Email marketing is one tactic among an arsenal of marketing tools. What marketing platforms does your email marketing consultant work with? Do they integrate with your CRM system to share data? Can they incorporate your social media into the mix? Just as important, is how easy do these various systems communicate and what is required on your part to make that happen?
- Goal setting. Hopefully you are engaging in email marketing because it is a part of your overall business strategy. So what are your goals? What do you want to accomplish? How is this new partner working with you to set, measure, and reach them?
- Personalized branding. We mentioned above that you should work with an email marketing consultant who has knowledge in email design and development. What level of personalization can you expect? Are you limited to your logo and color matching or can the design match your website look and feel?
- List management. The last consideration may be the most important. How will the email marketing consultant assist in or manage your contact database? From the start, how will they help you with list segmentation, especially if you have not done this before? How will your email messaging be personalized for your audience and for individual contacts? How will they monitor and maintain the overall health of your contact lists? Do not overlook this last point.
How much do email marketing consultant services cost?
Cost of email marketing consultant services can vary widely. However there are some general price ranges based on scope of work and need required.
- Select project work. If your needs are occasional or the projects are small, contracts based on project work may be a good consideration. Prices range from $125-250 per hour with a set minimum number of hours (usually about 10).
- On-going project work. Businesses looking to truly outsource their email marketing and manage the flow of work being shared, may want to consider this option. Upfront fees for design and development vary from $500-3,500 based on the project with an additional $200-750 per month based on list size.
- Retainer services. Companies who view an email marketing consultant as an extension of their team, might look into keeping a consultant on retainer. Prices vary the most with this option since consultants can range in experience from novice freelancer to established agency. Therefore costs will range from $300-10,000 per month.
Determining your actual costs when working with a consultant will in a large part, depend on you. The other side of the proverbial cost coin, will be based on the expertise and service provided by the email marketing consultant you choose.
Here are some of the most common factors that influence email marketing cost.
- What do you want the email marketing consultant to do? Are you contracting their services to assist with or manage your email marketing strategy?
- What do you need or want? Single send monthly newsletters won’t carry the complexity or price tag that a detailed and targeted email marketing campaign will.
- How much personalized service do you want? If you can do most of the planning and provide the majority of the direction, your email marketing cost will be lower than if you require a dedicated point person to focus on your account.
- How large is your contact list to be managed? Larger contact lists require more management, with more data to analyze than smaller lists.
- Do you need additional or unique services? Do you need your email copy to be translated into other languages? Will you need custom images created vs using stock images? The more customized your requests, the more you will pay for these services.
- Who is involved? More stakeholders that need to provide input and approval mean more time for creation, review and development. This can add to your costs if the process becomes too complex, is pushed outside of the scope of work, or requires rush deliveries.
Do you need help with your email marketing? Maybe the first question is if you need an email marketing strategy?
Either way, we’re here to help. Contact HELLO Marketing for a free 20-minute consultation that will help get you on the right path. Call Lauren at 973.214.5942 or email her at [email protected].