Email marketing is about more than a newsletter -- it’s about the entire experience that’s triggered by your brand’s email in the user’s inbox. If users click through from an email to your website only to find a jarring or lackluster site experience, the effort put into your email campaign was wasted. The top email marketing companies understand the importance of unifying the customer’s experience from the email to the final destination in the journey. What’s more, they look at email marketing as more than simply blasting out a message whenever the idea strikes. They design campaigns that reach consumers at a series of strategic touchpoints -- from onboarding and transactional messages, to promotional and remarketing ones.
Best Email Marketing Companies & Marketing Automation Firms
How The Top Email Marketing & Automation Firms Improve Modern Marketing Strategies
Table of Contents
- How To Use Marketing Automation Tools To Boost Click-Through Rates And Lead Scoring
- Questions To Ask An Email and Marketing Automation Company To Improve Marketing Efforts
- How To Choose The Best Email and Marketing Automation Platform To Improve Your Marketing Campaigns
- Top Value Propositions & Differentiating Factors Of The Best Email Marketing Companies
- Top Email Marketing Companies Know The Value Of Strategy
- Leading Email Marketing Companies Are Analytical
- The Best Email Marketing Agencies Are Experimental
- Great Email Marketing Firms Are Collaborative
- Effective Email Marketing Companies Get Personal
- Noteworthy Email Marketing Companies Are Cutting-Edge
- Service Offerings Of Top Email Marketing Companies
- How The Best Email Marketing Agencies Market Themselves
- Top Features of the Best Email Marketing Companies
How To Use Marketing Automation Tools To Boost Click-Through Rates And Lead Scoring
Email Marketing vs. Marketing Automation
Email marketing is the use of mass emails to promote a business, product or service to consumers. While it might seem antiquated in the age of social media, email marketing actually brings in a return on investment of up to 4,400 percent.
Marketing automation isn’t just another term for email marketing, though. Instead, if refers to the software marketing agencies or departments use to streamline repetitive tasks on various channels, including social media, websites and, yes, email marketing.
The best email and marketing automation programs track leads and help businesses capitalize on them by reporting on the following metrics:
- Open rate: How many people open your message
- Bounce back rate: The amount of email addresses that were not delivered or are inactive
- Click-through rate: The number of consumers who complete a call to action and click to your website or target destination
These rates will demonstrate what messages perform well while highlighting the tactics that need to be adjusted for better success, allowing businesses to target potential consumers and appeal to them on a more personal level.
Email and marketing automation software boosts consumer retention by analyzing behavior and personalizing campaigns towards your existing consumers. In fact, 80 percent of retailers say that email marketing is the best consumer retention tool they use!
The more you can target your existing customers, the more likely they are to complete a purchase from you. Although first-time visitors are only 32 percent likely to make a buy, two-time customers are 53 percent likely to buy again, and 10-time consumers jump to a staggering 83 percent likelihood of completing another purchase.
Email and marketing automation agencies allow companies to target groups of consumers as well are individuals, increasing the likelihood that their marketing message will be read.
By tracking the metrics we mentioned earlier -- open rates, CTRs, and bounce back rates -- you’ll be able to hone in on exactly what your audience craves. After all, automated messages receive 70.5 percent higher open rates and 152 percent better click-through rates.
What’s better? Most software enables you to input additional information such as name, age and location, which can help you personalize content further and improve open rates by up to 14 percent and click-through rates by up to 10 percent.
As expected, email and marketing automation can streamline workflows and ultimately make all marketing team members and initiatives more productive. These workflows can determine the best time to send your emails, if they should be personalized, the subject line will reap the best open rate, and even the action you want consumers to take!
These smooth and comprehensive workflows also reduce manual labor -- allowing your marketing team to focus on other initiatives -- without sacrificing successful email campaigns and business goals. Examples of automated workflows include:
- Welcome emails
- Thank you emails
- Contact form received messages
- Onboarding flows
- Abandoned shopping cart emails
- Re-engagement campaigns
- And more!
Questions To Ask An Email and Marketing Automation Company To Improve Marketing Efforts
Most importantly, a top email and marketing automation company provides services that will help you execute strategic email campaigns and automate various data and marketing tasks. Thus, you should ask questions to ensure you know each and every task that a company or platform will assist with.
- What tasks can you automate and help with?
- What are the benefits of your platform?
- What marketing problems does your company solve?
- Are there any other features in development and on the horizon?
Data & Reporting
If you aren’t analyzing data and adjusting your email and marketing strategy, what’s the point? Make sure that the email and marketing automation agency that you choose isn’t just able push the campaigns out, but report on them (and your consumers!) accurately, too.
- How do you track users’ behavior?
- What metrics do you use?
- What numbers are considered successful?
- How soon are accurate analytics available?
- How often do you report on consumers and marketing results?
- How will you capture and track leads?
Plenty of top email and marketing automation companies offer copious customer service and account management to help you improve your strategy and reach your business growth goals. Don’t forget to ask the questions below to ensure you’ll get the support you deserve with the platform you choose.
- What does your customer assistance process look like?
- Does your company provide an account manager?
- Is there a cap on the amount of calls we can have with our account manager?
- Can account managers assist in analyzing reports and formulating strategy or creating a unique design template?
Integrating marketing automation with other programs will lower costs and improve productivity when done well. These partnerships will synchronize all of your information, data, tasks and reports in one place, making it easier to achieve your marketing goals. Ask the following questions to get the full scope of what a potential email and marketing automation agency can do for your business.
- Do you have a team in place to facilitate APIs or other integrations?
- Does this platform integrate with CRMs, social media accounts, management systems, or websites?
- Can your program integrate with Google Analytics or other reporting systems?
- What integration benefits does your program have?
- Are there any new partnerships currently being developed?
Return on investment is more important that upfront costs, but regardless, you need a strong understanding of every email and marketing automation company’s pricing structure. The below questions will give you clarity on what you can expect for your money.
- Are there tiers to pricing and features?
- Is there a cap on campaigns we can send through the platform at any price point?
- How often will we be billed?
- Can we cancel or change our services at any time?
How To Choose The Best Email and Marketing Automation Platform To Improve Your Marketing Campaigns
Every top email and marketing automation system necessitates a certain amount of information on your end, so it is imperative that their requirements and your provisions match. So, before you go all-in on a high-tech machine learning email marketing system, take stock of the information about your consumers that you currently have and the information that you can feasibly get.
For example, if you have only been collecting email addresses for the past few years and don’t plan on changing your form or initiating a campaign to gather more consumer information, it won’t make sense to pay big bucks for an automation program that uses machine learning to customize emails to users -- no matter how cool it sounds.
Assess Your Goals
There is a plethora of great email and marketing automation softwares out there -- but each program is not made equal. In fact, certain companies are designed for specific business goals, and finding the right one that’s tailored to your objective will increase your ROI.
Are your emails aimed at building the brand identity or are you striving for specific purchases? Do you want to automate part of the customer journey or a few tedious marketing processes? Answering those questions will narrow down the pool of potential programs to those that will serve you best.
How integrated you need an email and marketing automation software to be completely depends on your business, but most improve employee productivity and consumer experience by pairing an automation software with their website and management systems, allowing them to seamless sync information and save hours of manually transferring data.
Find out if an email marketing or automation software has a team who can help facilitate a smooth integration. In particular, smaller businesses with smaller web and tech departments strongly benefit from comprehensive automation companies that assist with incorporating CRMs, APIs and more into the platform because they often simply lack the manpower.
At the end of the day, measurable results are the most important outcome of any marketing campaign. Make sure you’re aware of how often you can expect results, how exactly they are measured, and the manner in which they are presented. After all, if you can’t understand the results, you can’t transform them into marketable actions that will capture consumers in the future.
What better? Many of the best email and marketing automation platforms offer comprehensive account management, which often includes strategy assistance, goal-setting guidance and help deciphering results. Ask any potential providers exactly what level of customer assistance you can expect.
The best email and marketing automation software for your business will be one that solves your immediate business problems and suits your current needs but can grow with the company.
Thus, don’t just choose a platform because it fits the current budget or works “just fine” for now. This mentality may leave you searching for a new provider in the next few years -- which can be costly and time-consuming, especially if you have integrated APIs and other systems into the software. Instead, find an agency that has features you can upgrade to when your marketing campaigns grow to that level.
Top Value Propositions & Differentiating Factors Of The Best Email Marketing Companies
Top Email Marketing Companies Know The Value Of Strategy
For any email campaign to be successful, it needs to be guided by strategy. The trouble with so much of email marketing is that because most companies have been doing it for so long, the original strategy has often fallen to the wayside long ago. As employees turn over and company goals shift and evolve, email marketing can get lost in the shuffle. The result is that it ends dictated by instinct and old habit rather than clear strategy. Top email marketing companies establish a competitive edge by emphasizing the research and discovery exercises they conduct as part of every customer engagement. This ensures that campaigns are developed on a foundation of audience insights, deep brand understanding, and measurable goals for anticipated outcomes.
Leading Email Marketing Companies Are Analytical
Email marketing provides plenty of data on user behavior and engagement. Top email marketing companies know how valuable such data is, and they use it to their advantage to continuously hone and optimize their client campaigns. You should expect the best email marketers to position themselves on their deep analytical abilities and skill at drawing meaningful insights from vast swaths of data. Keen analysis of campaign performance indicators (open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, etc.) is the key to constantly bettering the client’s messaging, offers, and email newsletter creative, thus generating better returns in the long run.
The Best Email Marketing Agencies Are Experimental
One reason to love email marketing is that it’s a channel which lends itself naturally to quick and easy experimentation. Most of us know that stagnation is the enemy -- we must constantly innovate in order to make substantive gains. Top email marketing companies know the value of experimentation to illuminate hidden insights and definitively prove or disprove hypotheses about performance. These companies position themselves are their experimentation expertise and will be able to speak confidently about the types of A/B and multivariate testing they regularly conduct and what the benefits to their clients have been. Regularly testing subject lines, calls-to-action, email list segmentation, and creative direction will improve campaign outcomes. Always look for an email marketing company that makes testing a core function of their service to their customers.
Great Email Marketing Firms Are Collaborative
Email marketing should be a core component of nearly any digital strategy, but it is by no means a solo act. Email is most effective when it’s done in tandem with campaigns in other channels, and in order to drive results, ideally everything should be seamlessly integrated. For that reason, the best email marketing companies are the ones that can be collaborative -- both with your internal team, or with outside partners if necessary. Even if email marketing is managed as part of a broader engagement at a single agency, you still want to make sure all the moving pieces are moving together, and that email is supporting other channels (like social media and advertising) and vice-versa.
Effective Email Marketing Companies Get Personal
Personalization is the word on every marketer’s lips these days, and email is one of the easiest channels in which to implement a personalization strategy. Personalized email newsletters drive better responses from subscribers and achieve higher ROI, so it’s in your company’s best interest to work with an email marketing agency that makes personalization a core function of their approach. The best email marketing companies will implement and test different personalization strategies to find the most effective ways to appeal to your target customers.
Noteworthy Email Marketing Companies Are Cutting-Edge
Tactics, technology, and approaches are always changing in the digital marketing space. Marketers have to stay on top of these changes if they’re going to be able to meet the demands of the clients. Top email marketing companies have a finger on the pulse of the industry and will proactively inform their clients of relevant changes or new ideas and technologies that might benefit them. Look for an agency that demonstrates expertise in and commitment to their field. They should be up to date on the latest marketing automation technology, the best email marketing software, and mailing list management practices.
Service Offerings Of Top Email Marketing Companies
Any top email marketing company will be able to offer a full suite of services to their clients, including everything from template creation to integrated campaign management.
Common email marketing service offerings include:
- Email Audit - An email audit is often a necessary first step before a strategy can be created. The audit will give the agency a clear picture of the client’s successes, challenges, and areas of opportunity based on what they’ve done in the past. Understanding past creative directions and distribution strategies is key to planning for future improvements.
- Email Strategy - The email marketing strategy is what the agency uses to guide the entire campaign process. During the strategy they will do audience research that helps pinpoint the most effective messaging, offers, and timing, among other things. The strategy will identify automation opportunities, ideas for gaining subscribers, and outline the basic best practices, such as double opt-in and transactional emails.
- Email Template Development - For companies who don’t want to have their campaigns fully managed by an agency but don’t have the expertise in-house to do their own design and development, email marketing agencies often offer email template design and development. These templates can be reused in a variety of scenarios by swapping out text, images, and links.
- Custom Creative - If a template won’t do the trick, there’s always the option to hire an agency to produce custom creative. Custom creative may include content, design, and development, or some mix of the three depending on how much the client is prepared to provide.
- Email Campaign Management - Full-service campaign execution and management, either on an ongoing basis for the entirety of the client’s email needs, or on a more limited basis for a one-time campaign.
How The Best Email Marketing Agencies Market Themselves
Like all marketing service vendors, email marketing companies rely on a variety of digital marketing tactics to attract clients.
Content marketing, and content that demonstrates thought leadership especially, is among the most popular tactics for email companies. Of course, these companies use targeted email campaigns to promote their content and reel in leads (would you expect anything less?) Social media marketing is another tactic most email agencies invest heavily in as another means of further promoting content as establishing authority.
Search engine optimization and paid search (PPC) are also commonly used to attract potential leads from search.
Email marketing is one of the most established digital marketing channels, and even though most companies are doing it, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing it right. Partnering with an email marketing agency can help companies improve floundering campaigns and generate a better ROI in the channel and on their digital marketing efforts overall.
Key differentiators to look out for when evaluating email marketing companies include:
- Strategic - Does the agency begin their email campaigns with a strategy phase that uncovers the research that’s key to understanding the client’s target audience? Does this strategy inform and contribute to a larger content marketing strategy?
- Analytical - Is the agency staffed by analytical minds that are capable of identifying trends and pulling useful insights from large swaths of data? Which marketing software does the agency use?
- Experimental - How willing is the agency to be experimental in order to identify new opportunities? Are they proactive in running A/B tests that will help continuously optimize campaign performance?
- Collaborative - Is the agency capable of collaboration, both with the client and with third party vendors if necessary? Do they take an integrated approach to their campaigns, understanding how each channel influences and impacts another?
- Personalized - Does the agency know the value of personalization, and is this a core element of their approach to their work? What personalization strategies do they apply, and how do they believe these will benefit you?
- Cutting edge - Is the agency ahead of the curve when it comes to changing technologies and tactics? Are they proactive in suggesting changes and improvements to client campaigns based on their understanding of what’s new, exciting, and innovative in their field?
Top Features of the Best Email Marketing Companies
As with all marketing channels, any investment in email marketing should be driven by a strategy. Top email marketing companies know that a strategy helps answer many key questions that influence the development of the campaign. The strategy phase will help the agency understand the client’s goals and objectives so that campaigns can be designed specifically to contribute to meeting them. The strategy will also identify visuals, messaging, and content that will appeal to the target audience. Most importantly, it will detail a delivery calendar that keeps everyone accountable and on track.
It goes without saying that one of the most important elements of any email marketing campaign is the design of the email themselves. Today’s users receive dozens, if not hundreds, of emails per day, and a vast majority of these messages are promotional ones. If you want your message to captivate the user enough to entice him or her to take an action, your creative has to be exceptional. The top email marketing companies have talented design teams in place who can create innovative designs that represent your brand and delight your users. When searching for a new email marketing partner, always be sure to ask to see examples of previous work. Understanding what the agency has done for previous clients will help you better gauge the level of work they’re capable of.
Even in this day and age, when we have the tools at our fingertips to be precise in targeting specific user groups, many businesses still choose to take the email “blast” approach to email marketing. Being strategic in segmenting and targeting your audience is essential if you’re going to run an effective email campaign, especially in an increasingly personalization-driven marketing landscape. Top email marketing companies help their clients segment their email lists appropriately and analyze the available data in order to make improvements to segmentation as campaigns are ongoing.
Email marketing is the perfect channel to really lean in to A/B testing. It’s very easy to run tests with email. You can test subject lines, calls-to-action, key creative, messaging, and landing pages. These tests can be run on an ongoing basis to identify trends and make improvements over time, but that can also be executed on a small segment of the list, with the winning version being delivered to the remainder of the list. There’s no reason not to do regular testing on your emails, and any top email marketing company will tell you the same.