I manage online retail and digital marketing for a sports supplements brand. We have just ended our relationship with an email marketing provider – the service level was shockingly bad. We plan to select a new partner soon. The owner of the business has come across a low cost self service email solution – a business associate brought it to his attention. What are the key differences between using an email marketing agency and an online self service solution?
We ask Andy Francis, CEO of email marketing agency e-style, for his advice
Andy Francis says…
We get asked this question a lot. Although I run a full service Email Service Provider (ESP) I would be the first to say there is definitely a place for the self-service option. If you‘re happy to do the legwork yourself then self-service is definitely for you. If you’ve got the time to run all of the creative work, campaign building, results analysis and data management on a daily basis then good for you, there are a host of self-service ESPs out there to choose from.
However, if you take email marketing seriously and realise it is vital to the success of your online marketing strategy, then full-service is definitely the right choice. The level of service varies but at the very least you should be looking for a provider that will provide strategy advice, will build your email campaigns for you and will then analyse the results and take care of your data needs. If you look around you should also be able to find a provider that offers full creative services and data segmentation so giving a full end-to-end service.
If we look more closely at the differences between self-service and full-service providers we begin to see why more brands are going for the full-service option. Self-service systems are all template driven. Template based systems mean that your emails are uniform, the logo is always in the same place and that you define where images and text belong. Years ago this was seen as brilliant, I see it as the worst thing to happen to email in a long time. The key to maintaining high levels of recipient interaction is bespoke and engaging creative. Find a provider that either does all the creative for you or at the very least offers a package where one email can look 100% different to the previous email, not a template in sight!
The biggest thing missing from a self-service option though is the consultancy. You may think you’re doing really well producing some reasonable view and click rates but how do you know you’re not missing out on one thing that will transform your response rates and in turn your bottom line?
So in summary, I would answer your question with a question. You want to know whether to go self-service of full-service? I would ask how seriously do you take email marketing?
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