Internet marketing is almost a decade old, and some full-service operators have begun to research the newest breed of providers: the full-service email marketing agency or email service provider. Job shops and do-it-yourself software are a thing of the past. Email marketing agencies now handle virtually all the expensive and time-consuming tasks involved in creating and implementing campaigns that build strong brand awareness and draw customer response rates above 20 percent.
Keep the following thoughts in mind when you look for an email marketing agency:
1. Meet the email marketing advisor. Email providers and software companies used to tout software and online virtual “coaches” that ostensibly walked users through a series of “simple” steps for implementing their campaigns. These teaching tools were, in reality, anything but simple. They were systematic, but not intuitive to use. When you got stuck, there was nobody to turn to for help.
Email marketing agencies take their service model from advertising and PR agencies. Each customer is assigned a personal email marketing advisor or account executive, whose job it is to make the program a success. The advisor handles seven critical areas of the client’s campaign:
- Vertical market strategic planning.
- Managing the email distribution calendar.
- Monitoring results.
- 100% custom creative graphic design—no templates.
- Motivating direct marketing copywriting.
- Providing strong POP to capture email addresses.
- Permission-based email database management.
As a client, you generate a permission-based list using agency-provided POP and clarify your restaurant’s marketing and branding goals, current marketing challenges, traffic flow patterns and new offerings.
2. Your time is money. Do-it-yourself email marketing software users can spend an average of 30 hours per month at their computers, and most hire technical consultants for support. The average email marketing agency client spends only 60 minutes a week in contact with the email marketing advisor, either by email or phone. Face-toface visits are not really essential. On your own, you will likely spend a lot of time and/or money attempting to manage your program. In contrast, an email marketing advisor can run a campaign that’s more effective than you could hope to create yourself, for less than $150 per month.
3. A picture is not worth 1,000 words. The best email marketing agencies are staffed by marketers, not tech types. They know how to balance the graphic and copywriting components of your email messages.
According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), creative call-to-action offers made in promotions account for 80% of the response, while eyecatching photos and graphic design represent only 20%. Restaurateurs need to call attention directly to the offer and the restaurant logo. If the offer is not read or is not compelling, the visual won’t matter.
4. Reliable resources vs. contractual obligations. The right agency can create and distribute hundreds or even tens of thousands of response-generating emails instantly, anytime. Your cost depends on the agency’s operating efficiency. Research fees and contractual requirements thoroughly.
Innovative email marketing agencies offer month-to-month fee structures, with no contracts, because they provide the service and response rates operators need to justify the expenditure. Some do not even use standard 30-day rate cards; they offer an unlimited number of emails per month for a flat rate.
Email marketing’s time-saving and cost-efficiency fulfill the promise the Internet made to businesses years ago. Do your research. Find an email marketing agency you can rely upon to help you build your permission database, produce motivating and offer-intensive email messages and distribute them instantly, while you spend time satisfying your diners.