After running an ecommerce business for 7+ years and now an ecommerce email marketing agency for 3+ years, I have a unique perspective of being both an ecommerce founder and agency owner.
Also, during working with 50+ ecommerce brands, we’ve had countless conversations about their email marketing strategy. Also, we have reviewed multiple accounts with our free audit to see other agency implementations.
We have gained an understanding of the expectations businesses have when they engage email marketing agencies, the shortcomings they encounter with those that fall short, and the true indicators of success.
So, to help businesses choose the right email marketing agency, we will share our essential learnings and the key factors you should consider when evaluating email marketing agencies.
After that, we’ll explain how we’ve dealt with these things at our agency. We’ll also talk about the good and not-so-good sides of choosing an agency or making your own team. Lastly, because many companies like to check out different agencies, we’ll tell you about four more email marketing agencies that people often talk about.
Below, we will cover:
- 5 Factors to Consider When Evaluating Ecommerce Email Marketing Agencies
- Our Agency Process: How We’ve Addressed Each Of These Factors
- Should You Hire an Email Marketing Agency, Freelancer or Build a Team In-House?
- Other Email Marketing Agencies to Consider
If you're interested in hiring our agency to do email marketing for your business, visit our service details page.
If you're looking for some results and case studies of ecommerce email marketing, visit our results page.
5 Factors to Consider When Evaluating Ecommerce Email Marketing Agencies
To begin, we’ll cover the biggest 5 factors you need to consider when evaluating agencies:
Factor #1: What’s your business email marketing potential?
Email marketing works differently for each brand at different stages. As it’s a retention medium, a lot depends on the current list size, your niche, natural repeat frequency, and average order value.
The goal is to set the right expectations both in terms of ROI & scope of growth before hiring an email marketing agency.
#1 point to be clear on, what’s the email potential specific to your brand at your current growth stage?
Factor #2: Do they have a strong strategy covering all customer journey touchpoints and segments?
You are present in all key areas of growth. It should cover on-site, email, sms, automation, campaigns, zero-party data, and segmentation.
Factor #3: Do they have a track record of flawless execution and strong communication?
Email is a direct communication medium with your customers, so you need flawless execution. That means meeting sales time-sensitive deadlines, zero typos, correct links, in-stock products, compliance, etc.
The agency is representing your brand to your customers.
Factor #4: Do they have a process of continuous testing and optimization?
Email needs a lot of customization. There are different layout that works best for different brands. Different campaign themes resonate with different audiences. Different promotion works best for each brand.
A robust testing and optimization framework is a must for the best results.
Factor #5: Do they have detailed case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of their strategy?
Case studies serve as tangible proof of an agency’s ability to transform concepts into successful, revenue-generating campaigns.
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Factor #1: Assessing your business email marketing potential (Email Growth, ROI, Revenue) at THIS STAGE?
Before diving into the selection process, take a comprehensive look at your business’s email marketing potential.
Email delivers differently for each brand.
Email can even outperform paid marketing depending on the niche and natural buying frequency.
For cosmetics, pharmaceutics, fitness grocery, and pet niches, email delivers close to 40-50% of total revenue.
For a one-time purchase niche like music instruments, electronics, or furniture, email can only generate 20-25% of total revenue.
Also, depending on the list size, an email with a list size of 100,000+ subscribers will generate an ROI of 1:20 compared to an ROI of 1:5 for a brand with a list size of 10,000+.
A lot depends on the average order value as well.
An agency should be able to commit a number based on their experience with your brand.
Also need to monitor KPIs like retention rate, repeat purchase rate, customer lifetime value, and email engagement metrics.
Understanding your unique needs will guide you in choosing an agency that can tailor their strategies to your requirements.
Factor #2: Comprehensive Strategy Covering Customer Journey Touch Points and Segments
Email is a direct, one-on-one communication channel with your customers.
For best results, email needs to communicate along the complete customer journey.
A top-tier ecommerce email marketing agency should exhibit a robust strategy that covers all customer journey touchpoints and segments.
From initial awareness to post-purchase engagement, each stage requires a tailored approach to maximize conversions and customer retention.
The agency’s ability to create a cohesive and engaging email flow throughout the customer journey is paramount.
Factor #3: Track Record of Flawless Execution and Strong Communication
Execution is where strategies come to life.
Look for an agency with a proven track record of executing successful email campaigns.
Their ability to flawlessly implement strategies while maintaining strong communication with your team demonstrates their professionalism and commitment to achieving results.
Look for evidence of timely delivery, accurate implementation of content and design, and a record of emails that consistently render well across various devices and platforms.
Furthermore, strong communication is the backbone of a successful agency-client relationship.
Prioritize agencies that emphasize transparent and proactive communication.
They should inform you about campaign progress, promptly address concerns, and collaborate seamlessly with your internal teams.
Factor #4: Emphasis on Continuous Testing and Optimization
The digital landscape is dynamic, and what works today might not be as effective tomorrow.
A reputable email marketing agency should have a well-defined process for continuous testing and optimization.
Inquire about their process for conducting A/B tests on elements such as subject lines, visuals, and call-to-action buttons.
Their iterative approach allows them to fine-tune campaigns based on real-time data and insights.
It involves regularly analyzing campaign performance, tweaking strategies, and adapting to market trends to ensure optimal results.
Look for agencies that emphasize data-driven decision-making.
They should be adept at analyzing campaign metrics, identifying trends, and adapting strategies accordingly.
An agency that actively seeks opportunities for improvement and adjusts its tactics based on performance indicators is more likely to yield consistent positive outcomes.
Factor #5: Do they have detailed case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of their strategy?
Look for agencies that proudly showcase a collection of detailed case studies.
These studies should narrate how their strategies directly contributed to significant improvements in key metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.
Consider their specific tactics, customization for each client’s needs, and the resulting impact.
As you embark on your journey to find the best ecommerce email marketing agency, keeping these five factors in mind will empower you to make an informed decision that aligns with your business’s unique needs and goals.
Now that we’ve discussed the critical evaluation criteria, let’s delve into RetainUP’s approach and how they address each factor to help you drive your ecommerce email marketing campaigns to success.
RetainUP’s Process: How We’ve Addressed Each Of These Factors
As an ecommerce founder who wanted to solve for customer retention problem for brands, we handle email marketing differently.
We don’t see email as just automation and campaigns. For us, it’s one-on-one communication with our client’s customers.
1. Our email strategy is optimized to drive conversions and retention.
We recognize that emails are more than just communication – they’re pathways to increased revenue and customer loyalty.
Our strategies are finely tuned to encourage immediate purchases and foster long-term relationships.
We amplify immediate transactions and sustainable customer retention by delivering content that resonates with your audience at each interaction.
For us, the email goal is to improve conversions and retention.
We have written extensively about customer retention strategies for ecommerce.
2. We use a detailed customer journey to cover all touch points and segments.
Blanket approaches no longer suffice in the dynamic landscape of email marketing.
At RetainUP, we delve deep into your customer journey, understanding every touch point and segment.
Our tailored content for each stage ensures that your emails are relevant, engaging, and effective in guiding your customers through their unique journey.
We have been helping brands with RFM Analysis and implementations.
It starts with the complete customer journey…
…with a special focus on the pre-purchase and post-purchase journey.
…adding more power with integrations.
3. We use a loop feedback process to execute faster and more accurately.
Communication gaps can lead to missteps.
As email is the brand’s communication with its audience, we are speaking on the brand’s behalf.
That’s why our loop feedback process is integral to our workflow.
We maintain a continuous feedback loop with your team, ensuring we’re always aligned and on track.
This real-time collaboration enhances execution speed, minimizes errors, and maximizes the accuracy of our strategies.
We use Slack (for fast communication), Google Drive (to collect feedback), and ClickUp (for project management) to speed up execution.
Also, we use a feedback consolidation process to avoid feedback saving time and energy on both sides.
4. We use a 3-step Reporting, AB Testing, and Analysis approach for continuous optimization.
Numbers provide the insights needed for refinement.
Our comprehensive reporting process involves three crucial steps:
meticulous data collection,
rigorous A/B testing to uncover what resonates best,
and in-depth analysis to distill actionable insights.
This trifecta of data-driven decision-making empowers us to continuously optimize campaigns, adapting to evolving customer preferences and industry trends.
5. We’ve published 100+ results to demonstrate and prove.
Don’t just take our word for it – our track record speaks volumes.
We’ve sent more than 131 Million emails in the last 2 years. That’s 131,464,416 on-brand emails.
But more importantly, we have generated over $34M in revenue for our clients.
And we’ve delivered 3200% average ROI for our 50+ ecommerce clients across 9+ niches.
We’ve compiled an extensive collection of over 100 results that showcase our strategies in action.
Finally, if you’re interested, you can learn more about our agency, pricing, and working with us here.
Below, we will share 4 other email marketing agencies we’ve seen or heard come up over the years so that you can weigh other options.
But before we get to that, let’s briefly cover a question looming in the minds of businesses and decision-makers that are considering hiring an agency:
Should you even hire one, or would you be better off hiring in-house?
Should You Hire an Email Marketing Agency or Build a Team In-House?
Throughout the years, we’ve talked to lots of companies. They were thinking about hiring us, but they were also thinking about hiring someone in-house. And most of the time, companies tend to choose to hire someone to work in-house.
The biggest reason for this is that hiring someone in-house makes them feel more in control. More teachable and more accessible.
What you gain in control, you lose in expertise, time, and most importantly in speed.
The agency brings to the table –
- Expertise: Email marketing agencies specialize in this field, often bringing in-depth knowledge and experience. They stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices.
- Resources: Agencies typically have a team of experts, including copywriters, designers, strategists, and analysts, allowing for a comprehensive approach.
- Fast Execution: Outsourcing to an agency saves time on recruitment, training, and management of an in-house team.
Agency Vs. Freelancers –
- Team vs. Individual: Main issues we have seen with freelancers are reliability and expertise. Email marketing takes multiple roles, like design, copy, strategy, and reporting to make it work. Hoping to find all skills in a single person is an unfair expectation.
- Single Person Dependency: Reliability becomes a big challenge when meeting deadlines, especially during the holiday season or high workload. It’s tough to get the same level of commitment and sincerity from a single person.
Building an in-house team –
- Cost: Building an in-house team can be more expensive than working with an agency, especially if you are still figuring out the strategies.
- Recruitment and Training: Hiring and training skilled email marketers can be time-consuming and may require additional resources.
- Limited Expertise: An in-house team might not have the same breadth of expertise as a specialized agency.
Some businesses opt for a hybrid approach, with a small in-house team for day-to-day tasks and engaging with an agency for specialized projects or campaigns.
Other Email Marketing Agencies to Consider
To assist businesses in considering various agency choices, here are a couple of other ecommerce email marketing agencies that we’ve come across multiple times. We’ve heard about these agencies either from clients who have used their services or from our colleagues in the marketing industry.
Note: We haven’t had direct experience with any of these agencies, so we can’t personally confirm how good their work is.
SmartMail is a boutique eCommerce email marketing agency helping its clients drive more revenue from every subscriber in its database.
Over the last 9 years, they’ve proudly helped over 250 eCommerce companies send over 11 billion emails.
You can visit their website over here.
Flowium claims to deliver result-driven email marketing solutions for ecommerce businesses. They claim to consistently deliver extraordinary service to their clients while remaining dedicated to their mission and core values.
They are active on social media and produce great content consistently.
Visit their site for more information about their services, team, podcast, and more.
Magnet Monster claim to help eCommerce businesses increase profitability by deploying retention marketing strategies across Email, SMS, Direct Mail & Push Notifications.
They are focused on retention marketing and have worked with the biggest brands in the industry.
Visit their site for more information.
InboxArmy claims to be the one-stop shop for all email marketing needs, from strategy to development and execution. They work with global brands, agencies, and businesses of all sizes, from startups to enterprises.
They work across industries outside of ecommerce as well.
Visit their site for more information.
You can learn more about working with us over here.
Got any questions or comments? Feel comfortable sharing them in the comment section, and we’ll make sure to reply.