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5 Important Questions to Ask Before Outsourcing Your SFMC Email Marketing

5 Important Questions to Ask Before Outsourcing Your SFMC Email Marketing

Outsourcing your email program, even with a user-friendly platform like SFMC can be a great investment. But ask them these 5 questions first!...

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways for businesses to connect with customers and build lasting relationships with them (HubSpot)

In an era where customers crave meaningful brand experiences, two-way communications, and personalized service, email marketing ticks all the boxes, especially with an Email Service Provider (ESP) like Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC).

With email marketing, you can do all of this at scale at a very low cost. You can even measure the impact of your campaigns to see if they are yielding the high ROI you expect.

Why Outsource Your Email Marketing

But what if you lack the resources or expertise to create memorable campaigns at scale? Do you:

  1. Hire a team of experienced email marketing professionals?

OR

  1. Outsource your email marketing program to a team of experts?

A skilled in-house team can be an asset for your email marketing program, especially if SFMC is your ESP of choice. But despite its user-friendliness, SFMC is still vastly complex, which is why internal teams often struggle to:

  • Create relevant audience segments for each campaign
  • Personalize campaigns
  • Manage email deliverability and spam issues 
  • Design engaging layouts, and impressive visuals
  • Set up A/B testing and analytics to test campaign effectiveness before and after sends

Your team may also lack campaign strategy, graphic design, HTML coding, and data administration. If you are currently facing any of these issues, consider outsourcing. A specialized agency like Email Uplers can manage your entire email program, from audience segmentation, to campaign execution and post-send analytics. You even have the flexibility to outsource only parts of your program – without breaking the bank.

Ready to outsource? Ask your prospective partner these 5 questions first. The answers will tell you if you are making the right choice.

#1: How do you develop a strategy for each client?

The days of “spray and pray” email marketing are long gone. Every brand wants to send personalized, relevant and timely emails to their target audience. Your email strategy should be aligned with this goal. And that’s why it’s important to work with an agency that:

  • Understands your brand’s values
  • Grasps your email marketing goals
  • Can create a tailored strategy based on your goals, industry, and audience type

Your partner should also understand your competition and market, and set the right Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to measure campaign success. Finally, they should be agile enough to tweak the strategy (or tactics) if something is not working as expected. So before hiring an external team, make sure they satisfy these requirements, and your money will be well-spent!

#2: What does your campaign creation process look like?

With a powerful ESP like SFMC, you can create different kinds of campaigns for different brand goals, audience types, and customer journey stages:

  • Welcome emails
  • Post-purchase emails
  • Abandoned cart emails
  • Transactional emails
  • Engagement/Re-engagement emails
  • Special occasion emails

Each campaign is different, and requires an optimal mix of process, skills and tools. Does the agency have these abilities?

  • What is their campaign creation process?
  • How do they create and execute a plan?
  • How do they track progress, and control scope creep or time delays?
  • Do they use ready templates, or custom code everything from scratch?

Clarify these aspects to ensure that they don’t follow an inefficient process that will hit your proposed deadlines and budgets. 

#3: Do you create mobile-optimized and fully-accessible emails?

In 2019, mobile was the most popular reading environment, accounting for 42% of email opens. 

69% of mobile users delete emails that aren’t optimized for their device.

And that’s why mobile-friendly email is the second most-used tactic to improve email marketing performance.

Always choose an agency that can create mobile-optimized versions of every campaign. Otherwise, you will miss opportunities for greater audience engagement, relationship-building, and conversions.

Mobile optimized email
(Email on iPhone X) Source: Reallygoodemails

It’s also important to create emails for visually-impaired subscribers. About 1.3 billion people worldwide have some kind of visual impairment, so by not catering to their limitations, you risk alienating a section of your audience, and losing out on other brand-promoting benefits.

Ask if they:

  • Use semantic code like title (<title>), header (<h1>) and paragraph (<p>) tags, set the right language attributes, and encode all characters in HTML, so screen reader users can easily digest email copy
  • Set alt text for all images and links to ensure that emails are readable before the images load
  • Adjust code and design to improve accessibility
  • Scan and preview all emails for accessibility elements before sends
  • Use the right font colors and sizes, contrast ratios, visual elements, a logical reading structure, and accessible links to improve accessibility

Also ask how they tweak their CTA tactics for impaired audiences to encourage them towards a particular action (e.g. “shop here”).

#4: Which SFMC tools do you have expertise in?

SFMC is a comprehensive email marketing platform that can help you seamlessly manage every aspect of your email program: audience segmentation, journey building, content creation, design, automation, post-campaign analytics, and more. For this, it includes numerous tools:

  • Email Studio: Create customized email campaigns for an “audience of one”
  • Journey Builder: Create personalized customer journeys for each customer
  • Data Studio: Discover your audience to connect with them through memorable email campaigns
  • Content Builder: Create and manage content, and consolidate images, blocks and templates
  • Content Detective: Find and remove spammy words before sends
  • A/B Testing: Test campaign effectiveness on a small subset of your audience before sending it to everyone

SFMC also includes built-in Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities (Einstein AI) so you can:

  • Predict which segments are most likely to engage with your content with Engagement Scoring
  • Automatically determine the best send times with Send Time Optimization
  • Craft unique, engaging subject lines with Copy Insights
  • Create personalized content for each subscriber with Content Selection

Different campaigns require different tools and functionalities, and a competent agency should know which one to work with. Test prospective vendors on their knowledge of these tools before signing the dotted line.

#5: What does your email team look like?

With a lot of moving parts in email marketing, many brands often struggle with issues related to deliverability, audience segmentation, and low open/click-through rates. The right email marketing team with a competent email campaign manager can take these burdens off your shoulders.

The campaign manager will plan every campaign, design its strategy, and take accountability for end-to-end execution. They will create a schedule with email frequency and send times, manage personalization, help create clear CTAs, and work with their team to select the right templates and design elements. They will also analyze campaign performance, and take steps to implement corrections or improvements as required. The campaign manager will likely be your primary point of contact, so an agency that doesn’t provide one is not a good choice for your email program.

The team should also have professionals with expertise in design, copywriting, HTML coding, audience segmentation, automation, etc. These experts will:

  • Leverage the right strategies to boost email open and click-through rates
  • Create subscriber segments by demographics, personal interests, behavioral or historical data
  • Build engaging and valuable campaigns with personalized subject lines, copy, greetings, etc.
  • Create responsive emails with templates and dynamic content blocks
  • Create interactive content that can generate 2X more conversions than “passive” content
  • Generate predictive models to improve email deliverability
  • Edit specific trigger words to minimize the chances of email being marked as Spam
  • Maintain email list hygiene so you send campaigns to audience most likely to engage with them
  • Set up complex journeys to ensure personalized and targeted messaging

If you need to set up automated email campaigns, the agency should understand audience behaviors and historical data, and create automated workflows. The right offshore team will also get you the best results in a shorter time and at lower cost, so make sure you ask them about their automation expertise. If the agencies you interview cannot prove their expertise in all of these areas, keep looking!

Wrap-up

3 out of 10 marketers sometimes outsource email work to skilled email marketing teams.

Outsourcing your email program can improve its performance, lower your marketing expenses, and take the burden of planning, strategizing and measuring off your shoulders. But for this, it’s crucial to hire the right agency, with the right mix of skills, experience, technical know-how and industry knowledge. So before you embark on such a vital relationship, make sure you ask them the right questions. This will save you a lot of grief later, and take you closer to email marketing success.

To know how Email Uplers can help you plan, build and execute remarkable SFMC email campaigns, explore this page or talk to the Uplers team.

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Chintan Doshi

Chintan is the Sr. Manager Email Marketing & CRM at Email Uplers. He loves email marketing and has been in the industry from last seven years. His track record of email marketing success covers building email programs from scratch and using data-driven strategies to turn around underperforming accounts.

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