If you have recently taken the tough (and wise call) to outsource your email marketing, then you’d know a lot is riding on that decision. You’re also, probably, looking to take it a little easy as you have experts aiding you with this complex, lucrative function.
Well, think again. If you have decided to depend on some external expertise to ramp up the ROI on your email marketing, you must be aware you have a lot to gain. But it’s a tough call for a reason—while the function will definitely benefit from the experts, you have to keep in mind that you haven’t really passed on the baton. You have only decided to share the load.
Help Them Help You
Any external expertise is only as good as the internal insights, which serve as a starting point. In other words, what you are going to get will only be as good as what you are prepped to give. Enhanced and constant inputs will unfailingly generate effective and improved outputs. To support and supplement the symbiotic relationship between your team/organization and the external agency you have hired, you have to be present every step of the way—from the brief to the launch, and after.
Here are 7 probable mistakes that can lead to glitches with your outsourced email marketing and tips to minimize the slips between the drawing board and the inbox.
1. Starting Without a Baseline
You have onboarded the external experts, and you’re rearing to explore a new route for your email marketing. While that’s all well and good, we hope you have a basic map in place. If you don’t know where you are in terms of achieved results, it’s going to be difficult to see where your future campaigns are going.
So, never start without pinning down the pros and cons of your email marketing game to date. Brainstorm with your team to figure out what has worked and what hasn’t. Delineate every single area of success as well as the lacunae, and identify what needs to be done to enhance and eliminate those, respectively. These steps should ultimately help you produce a wishlist and an overarching roadmap for an outsourced email marketing function. These would also serve as the base points in your brief to the email marketing agency you are looking to hire.
Many businesses are concerned with losing their brand voice when they are planning to outsource content marketing. With more people involved and many moving parts, the best way to achieve uniformity is by including your brand voice and style guidelines in your brief to the agency. This will help ensure your brand voice stays consistent and successfully produces positive brand recognition.
2. Settling for a Poor Fit
Chemistry is everything—in life and in marketing. If you and the email marketing agency are not in sync, to begin with, it will get extremely challenging to find common ground on anything. Make sure you speak the same dialect of the marketing language—whether it’s numbers, customer centricity, or trends. Be thorough while sizing up your choices, and do not shortlist a team/agency that seems vastly different to what you’re looking for in experience, values, methods, etc.
You may not always be able to get a perfect fit, but don’t worry if the alignment is not 100%. You can always work on it. Remember to pause, assess, and tweak the path of parallel progress every now and then. This is all the more important if you have an in-house team working along with the outsourced experts. Make sure they are on the same page—right from nailing down the smallest objective of an individual email to identifying the biggest metric of campaign success, as well as every measure in between. The fewer the hitches and hiccups, the smoother and more cohesive your campaigns are going to be.
3. Ignoring the Learning Curve
If you think your contribution to an outsourced email marketing function stops with a one-time hand-off, you couldn’t be more wrong. The journey of outsourced email marketing, from the basics to delivering bang for the buck, is rarely smooth without sufficient efforts, especially in the beginning. (Big tip—automation is better applied to your email marketing itself, not to the outsourcing of it!)
Do not rush the steps in the beginning and skip the part of getting comfortable with each other’s way of working. It’s always going to take some time for you and your outsourced agency to pin down and mirror or complement patterns. Whether it’s your thoughts on the first template or your larger plans for follow-up campaigns, remember all of it is only in your head, to begin with. So, make an effort to transfer your vision and be patient while the experts catch up to your modes and methods. At the same time, you can’t be oblivious to the SOPs and the pulse of your outsourced team.
4. Having Constant Communication Gaps
So, you have set the ball rolling on your outsourced email marketing journey and are raking up results and marking off the first few milestones. The templates are turning up in time and are on point and in tune with your requisites. The first couple of drip campaigns are grabbing eyeballs and pinging encouraging numbers in CTRs.
You and your external experts should, obviously, celebrate these results, but do not take the foot off the pedal; not just in terms of efforts but also the scale of synchronization. Never fail to keep communication channels open. If you don’t share your perspectives, or invite their inputs on what worked and the things that could have been better or went wrong, you will quickly find yourself at creative deadends. At every step, bank on the numbers to chart a collaborative way forward.
5. Leveraging a Poorly Optimized Technology Stack
Strategy, plans, and goals are only going to take you halfway to your goal in the modern-day email marketing paradigm. Technology is more than the last-mile delivery channel in this day and age. If your outsourced team’s technology stack is not in line with your requirements or is outdated, everything else is likely to fail.
Whether it’s the ESP, automation tools, CRM platform, or any other supplemental resource needed to pull your campaigns together, make sure everything is in place and optimized. Don’t be afraid to explore the cost-benefit ratio of effecting technology transfers. This would not only help a smoother transition to outsourcing, but would also help bring down the agency-hiring costs in a typical, long-term scenario.
6. Having a Singular Focus on Creativity and Ignoring Analytics
These days, the success of email marketing—both at the level of individual message/drip campaign and overall numbers—hinges on standout factors. Design, content, CTA: everything has to be unique and address the subscriber’s PoV. So, your outsourced experts have to bring their A-game in creativity and refresh every single aspect of the templates as you go along. But, you also need to impress (and imbibe) the value of numbers on them.
Ensure your experts are up to the task of constantly reading the records and parsing the metrics. Active subscriber numbers, email open and other engagement rates, conversion patterns, content preferences, any A/B test results, device and audience segmentation—all of these need to be tracked and analyzed continually and periodically. Your agency is going to be in the best spot to oversee the numbers, so do not settle for laxity in recording and relaying relevant reports.
7. Being resistant to Currency and Change
Objectives, goals, and plans are the building blocks for any good email marketing campaign. But, you (and your outsourced team, by extension) need to face the fact that these don’t always work out as expected. You always have to be ready to pivot—a changing market, the rise of a new competitor, or a suddenly obsolete technology, any of these would need you and your team to think on your feet and out of the box.
Also, do not ignore one of the biggest benefits of outsourcing and bringing in professional experts: their exposure. If you onboard an agency that has a narrow roster of clients and projects, you will suffer from restricted views. This parameter indicates the extent to which they are in tune with the ever-changing email marketing trends, so, always look for experience. Keep your outsourced experts on their toes by engaging in trade talk every now and then and having them leverage the latest in email marketing.
There you have it—7 mistakes to avoid while outsourcing your email marketing function. Keeping these as guidelines on what to do should stave away the most common foibles that can arise from depending on external expertise. What’s more, you can ensure every campaign is complete, coordinated, and centered on your customers, from start to finish.
Want expert insights to ensure an optimal external team and streamline your email marketing? Reach out to us.