In today's digital age, the amount of digital media strategies that are included in the average business's marketing plan is enough to give you whiplash. So, you might be asking yourself, how important is email marketing, anyway? It turns out, extremely important! With its ability to reach a wide audience cost-effectively, email marketing has become a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. As a result, the demand for email marketing services has been steadily increasing, creating a lucrative opportunity for you to start your own email marketing agency.
In this article, we will cover how to start an email marketing agency from the ground up, including:
- Why you should start an email marketing agency
- How to set up your agency legally and operationally
- How to set up your agency’s pricing structure
- Different types of email campaigns you can run for your future clients
- How to advertise your email marketing agency
- How to utilize sales skills to acquire your email marketing agency’s first clients
But first, allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Slam Media Lab, a top-tier digital marketing and design agency in San Francisco. Our commitment to efficiency led us to meticulously document the processes and templates that catapulted our agency to success, from launching in 2020 to acquiring 30+ clients in just a few short years and earning $2M in revenue.
Recognizing the challenges required to start and scale a marketing agency, we've developed the How to Start An Agency Course – a comprehensive solution providing practical guidance. This course is a one-stop shop, sparing prospective agency owners from tedious hours of research. Together, we’ll explore topics like:
- The behind the scenes of how I decided to start my own agency during the pandemic and, in 2023, have earned over $2 million.
- How to pinpoint your niche, perform research for it, and where to start your client search.
- Everything you need to know about legal and operational setup, from business registration to banking solutions.
- How to craft winning, high-conversion proposals.
- How to market your agency with branding, SEO, and social media strategies.
- How to leverage ChatGPT to streamline your processes.
- …and more!
With 10+ hours of video content, 20+ templates, and assignments designed to translate knowledge into action, my goal of this course was to distill all the work we’ve done in three years.
We've been floored by the excitement around it! For a limited time, the first 10 people who sign up with this link will get 75% OFF with code AGENCY100.
Why You Should Start an Email Marketing Agency
Email marketing is one of the top marketing channels businesses can use because of its affordability compared to other channels and the ability for brands to have total control over their messaging and audience reach. Not to mention, the ROI can be impressive. On average, email marketing produces an ROI of $36 for every $1 spent.
Here are a few more convincing email marketing stats from 2023 alone:
- There are four billion daily email users
- 37% of brands in 2023 were increasing their email budget
- 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last twelve months
- 83% of respondents from a SendGrid survey about consumer text and email preferences said email was their preferred method to receive communication from businesses and brands
The data doesn't lie. So if you are passionate about helping businesses grow and have a solid understanding of marketing and email strategies, then starting an email marketing agency can be quite rewarding for you. By providing expert guidance and services, you can assist businesses in harnessing the power of email marketing to increase brand awareness, reach prospective customers, and achieve sales and revenue goals. Furthermore, starting an email marketing agency allows you to work on your terms, be your own boss, and, if you work hard enough, can allow you to make a substantial income.
Benefits of Email Marketing
Email marketing offers numerous benefits for many businesses, making it a valuable marketing tool to help propel business growth. Here are some of the many benefits of email marketing:
- Provides businesses with a direct line of communication with customers
- Allows businesses to send personalized messages to their customers
- Empowers businesses to segment their audience and send targeted content to different groups
- Enables businesses to automate their campaigns
- Is highly cost-effective
- Is easy to measure success rates
Provides Businesses with a Direct Line of Communication with Customers
First and foremost, email marketing allows businesses the unique ability to have a direct line of communication with their customers.
This ability to reach customers is powerful, as brands can actively engage and foster relationships with their target audience. Email marketing allows businesses to address questions, gather feedback, and share updates to establish a personal and responsive connection with their customers, developing brand loyalty and trust. When businesses take advantage of this direct communication, they have the opportunity to create lifelong customers by promptly addressing concerns and building a strong rapport with their audience.
Allows Businesses to Send Personalized Marketing Messages to their Customers
With email marketing, businesses can go beyond generic email blasts and send personalized messages to their customers. More specifically, they can incorporate individual names, and tailor the subject line or content of an email to include customer interests that make the reader feel uniquely seen and understood.
Personalized emails give businesses the ability to humanize digital communication with their brand and an individual, and can help make the individual feel more valued than if they received a generic email from another business offering a similar product or service. If businesses can resonate with their customers, they can create a sense of connection and trust, making customers more likely to engage with the brand and make a purchase.
However, in the digital age, where inboxes are inundated with promotional emails, it's important to differentiate your email marketing agency by treating your client's subscribers as human beings rather than just numbers. Be sure to address your client's subscribers by their names and segment lists to send relevant content based on preferences and behavior. Avoid spammy practices like excessive frequency, misleading subject lines, or irrelevant content that can alienate subscribers. This is where the importance of data driven decisions comes into play, which helps you curate engaging and informative email content for your client that provides real value to their subscribers.
Empowers Businesses to Segment their Audience and Send Targeted Content to Different Groups
To expand on the personalization aspect of email marketing, businesses can segment their audiences further to send targeted content to different groups of people. This is vital to ensure that businesses are delivering relevant content that will drive engagement and conversion rates. After all, it would be a waste of time and money to send out an email campaign that would not be of any interest to a huge chunk of a business’s audience.
Think of a hypothetical online retailer – the first one that comes to mind. Say they offer fashion for both men and women. They would, pretty logically, tailor specific email subject lines, email copy, and product offerings based on gender.
If they want to get even more granular, they could serve up, perhaps, the trendiest fashion items that Gen Z'ers are obsessed with, and send that version of the email to only women between the ages of 18-25.
You get where we are going with this. There are a plethora of combinations of email marketing messages that can be focused on super-specific demographic groups and their overall interests to drive engagement rates.
This is where market research is required to ensure that your agency understands your client's target audience, the trends they are following, and their shopping habits. Each customer demographic shops differently.
For example, for eCommerce shoppers, larger ideas and corporate social responsibility have become increasingly important.
Many prefer that the companies they buy from take a stance on social issues, and most businesses have a stance on something. That is why, as an email marketing agency, it's essential to invest time in understanding and shaping your client's brand strategy and identity, and where they might be able to contribute to a larger social conversation. This not only helps build customer loyalty, but also creates an opportunity to incorporate email communication about a business's brand values into its overall email marketing strategy.
Enables Businesses to Automate their Campaigns
Beyond personalization and segmentation, businesses can streamline their email marketing efforts by automating their campaigns, saving valuable time. By creating campaigns around automated email sequences, businesses can set up a series of emails to be sent at specific intervals or triggered by certain actions. This automation ensures that customers – both active and inactive users – receive timely and relevant information, such as welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, or post-purchase follow-ups.
Is Highly Cost-Effective
Email marketing is a cost-effective way to reach potential customers compared to traditional marketing methods like direct mail or paid advertising, making it a great option for businesses of all sizes. With email marketing, businesses can reach a large number of customers at a fraction of the price of print or television advertising. There are no printing or postage expenses, and businesses can easily track the success of their campaigns through analytics tools, allowing them to refine their strategies and maximize their return on investment. Not to mention, once you have automation sequences set up, as your client's business scales, their email marketing strategy can scale as well.
Is Easy-to-Measure Success Rates
Another advantage of email marketing is its measurability. Businesses can track the success of an email marketing campaign by tracking open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns.
This data provides valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, allowing businesses to use data driven decisions to optimize their email marketing strategies and improve future emails. Most email marketing software, such as ConvertKit, Beehiiv, MailChimp, and Litmus will have analytics and insights tools included in the email platform, which allow you to monitor open and click-through rates, discover where users bounce from an email, what makes them click on a product, and so on. Providing actionable insights to the clients you are working with will help you establish your value as an agency.
Types of Email Marketing Services Businesses Need
With a solid understanding of the value proposition offered by email marketing, you can now shape your agency's email marketing services.
To run a successful email marketing agency and deliver services that result in satisfied clients, you should acquaint yourself with the diverse types of email marketing services in demand by businesses, and then position yourself as the solution. Your email marketing services might focus solely on creating and executing email campaigns for subscriber lists, or you could offer a comprehensive suite that includes education on email marketing strategy, writing emails, lead generation, lead nurturing strategies, and a reporting dashboard.
Different Email Campaign Types Suitable For Various Audiences
One size does not fit all when it comes to email campaigns. To truly help your future clients connect with their target audiences, you need to get clear on how you as an expert email marketer can serve your clients the best. Think about which email campaign types you currently excel at, have a strong desire to learn more about, or which ones you are passionate about, and look to provide those service offerings to clients. Here are various email campaign types you can implement:
- Newsletter campaigns for information seekers
- Promotional campaigns for deal hunters
- Drip campaigns for new subscribers
- Abandoned cart emails for “window shoppers”
- Event invitations for engaged subscribers
- Survey and feedback campaigns for customers and subscribers
- Re-engagement campaigns for inactive subscribers
- Cross-sell and upsell campaigns for existing customers
- Birthday and milestone emails for personal touch
Newsletter Campaigns for Information Seekers
Audience: General Subscribers
Newsletters are a versatile choice for delivering valuable content to a broad audience. Newsletter messages include sharing industry news, company updates, and educational content, which helps keep email subscribers informed and engaged while establishing a brand as a knowledgeable resource.
You can provide a call to action on a website's blog page, for example, for users to submit their email to subscribe. Check out Slam Media Lab's example, located on our blog. You can also sign up for the Slam newsletter for some inspiration!
Promotional Campaigns for Deal Hunters
Audience: Bargain Shoppers
For subscribers looking for discounts and deals, promotional campaigns are the way to go. Highlight special offers, exclusive discounts, and limited-time promotions that create a sense of urgency to encourage quick action.
This can help generate excitement and make users feel extra special if they are offered an exclusive or limited-time deal ahead of other users. Additionally, this can incentivize users to stay subscribed to a brand's email messages for the long term, knowing that they will continue to be rewarded for their engagement and commitment by getting exclusive deals and early access to promotions.
Drip Campaigns for New Subscribers
Audience: New Subscribers
Drip campaigns are an example of an automated email sequence that is perfect for welcoming and nurturing new subscribers. These email campaigns are designed to seamlessly welcome individuals into a brand ecosystem, provide them with valuable information, and gently guide them through a journey that ultimately leads to making a purchase or taking a specific desired action. Drip campaigns can be successfully implemented by following these steps:
- Craft a compelling welcome email – an eye-catching welcome email is a crucial first step. It expresses gratitude for the subscription and introduces a brand's core values, mission, and unique selling propositions.
- Space out subsequent messages – to avoid overwhelming subscribers while maintaining their interest, space out the subsequent emails that are a part of a drip campaign. The content included in this series of messages can take various forms, such as blog posts, infographics, videos, or exclusive offers.
- Gradually introduce product or service information – as the drip campaign progresses, gradually introduce product or service information that emphasizes the value and benefits a brand can bring to the subscriber's life, to showcase how the brand can meet the subscriber's needs and address their pain points.
- Bring in more elements of personalization – tailoring content based on subscriber behavior, preferences, or demographics helps create a more meaningful and individualized experience, and utilizing data like click-through rates, open rates, and browsing history helps refine future email content to properly align with user interests.
- Incorporate clear and compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) in each email - the goal of a drip campaign is to get a user to engage with a brand or a business in a meaningful way. Calls-to-action nudge subscribers toward a desired conversion or action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a webinar, or downloading a product or resource.
Abandoned Cart Emails for “Window Shoppers”
Audience: Window Shoppers/Cart Abandoners
Implementing abandoned cart emails can help target "window shoppers" or customers who have added items to their cart but left a website without completing the purchase. This approach focuses on recovering lost sales by re-engaging with customers, oftentimes providing incentives such as free shipping or discounts for items they previously showed interest in. As an email marketer working for a client, you might try strategies such as providing social proof of customer testimonials from abandoned products, or, on the B2B side, providing case studies to help build trust and credibility for a user to be confident to convert.
Event Invitations for Engaged Subscribers
Audience: Engaged Subscribers
Inviting engaged subscribers to exclusive events like webinars or product launches is an effective strategy to strengthen the relationship between a brand and its customers. This approach not only fosters a sense of community but also provides loyal customers with rewards for their loyalty in the form of unique and valuable experiences. Not to mention, it helps build a business's positive brand image. Build anticipation by sending teaser emails or exclusive previews to engaged subscribers before formally announcing the event to the broader audience.
Survey and Feedback Campaigns for Customers and Subscribers
Audience: Customers and Subscribers
Implementing survey and feedback campaigns for customers and subscribers is a strategic approach to collecting valuable information that can guide product and service improvements. Understanding an audience's preferences, pain points, and suggestions to improve a product or service is an opportunity to solve two problems – improving a brand, and fostering customer loyalty – with one solution. This engagement not only demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction but also fosters a sense of inclusivity by involving the audience in a business's development process, giving them some skin in the game.
Re-engagement Campaigns for Inactive Subscribers
Audience: Inactive Subscribers
Don't forget about inactive subscribers! Implementing re-engagement campaigns for inactive subscribers is a great way to revitalize connections with individuals who may have disengaged from your client's content or services. This audience, though inactive, still holds potential value for your client. Sending targeted re-engagement campaigns can remind them of a brand's worth and motivate them to rejoin the active customer base. Highlight any new features, improvements, or content additions that have been introduced since their last interaction to spark renewed interest. Provide avenues for feedback, allowing inactive subscribers to express their concerns or suggestions, or reasoning for why they disengaged.
Cross-Sell and Upsell Campaigns for Existing Customers
Audience: Existing Customers
Maximize revenue for clients by leveraging cross-sell and upsell campaigns for existing customers within a well-established customer base. By introducing complementary products or enticing customers to upgrade to premium services, businesses can not only increase their sales but also enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. Highlight the unique features and benefits of the cross-sell or upsell options, demonstrating how they add substantial value beyond the initial purchase. Incorporate real-life examples, case studies, or testimonials from other customers who have benefited from the suggested upgrades. Provide educational content that explains the additional features, functionalities, or benefits associated with the cross-sell or upsell options.
Birthday and Milestone Emails for Personal Touch
Show a client's customers that they care about them by sending birthday and milestone emails! This is a powerful way to add a personal touch to interactions with customers celebrating special occasions. By acknowledging and celebrating milestones, such as birthdays, anniversaries, or other significant events, and offering personalized discounts or gifts, businesses can convey a genuine sense of care, deepening their connection with a customer. Ensure that your client's customer database includes information on important dates like birthdays or anniversaries and implement automated systems to send birthday and milestone greetings promptly, ensuring customers feel remembered on their special day.
6 Key Things You Must Do to Launch Your Email Marketing Agency
Now that you have some ideas for the types of services you can provide clients and the different email campaigns you can implement, it’s time to get down to the logistics of how to start your email marketing agency. Our How To Start an Agency Course breaks this down into twelve modules, but to get you a high-level start, here are six non-negotioables for starting an email marketing agency:
- Finding your email marketing agency’s ideal client
- Legal requirements for starting an email marketing agency
- Choosing the right pricing structure for your email marketing agency
- Choosing the right email marketing tools and software
- Advertising your email marketing agency
- Acquiring your agency’s first clients
Finding Your Email Marketing Agency’s Ideal Client
When thinking about how to start an email marketing agency, few things are more important than choosing the ideal client that you hope to work with. Your ideal client should be a brand or business type that you would be excited to serve, and should be within a preferred industry. For example, you might prefer only working with small retail businesses that are local to your geographical area. Or, you might only seek out large tech companies that you know have big budgets to spend.
You should also factor in your client’s values. It is important to think about your personal “why” for starting an agency, which connects back to your personal brand or ethos as an agency CEO. Finding like-minded clients to work with will increase your chances of finding fulfillment in your work.
For instance, Slam predominantly caters to mission-driven companies in fields like education, health, immigration, climate, technology, and venture capital. This specialization stems from our agency's founder and CEO, Silvia Li Sam, who initially established Slam as a Hispanic marketing agency with a dedicated focus on meeting the marketing needs of underrepresented Hispanic communities, including the Asian-Hispanic community. As a result, Slam's preferred clientele also prioritizes social awareness.
Legal Requirements for Starting an Email Marketing Agency
Complying with legal requirements is essential to ensure the legitimacy and credibility of your email marketing agency. Depending on your location, you may need to register your business, obtain necessary licenses, and follow data protection regulations. It is crucial to consult legal professionals to ensure that you are operating within the legal framework and protecting your clients' data privacy.
Setting Up Your Business Legally and Operationally
When establishing your email marketing agency, legally, you should register your business entity, obtain any necessary licenses or permits, and comply with local tax regulations. Determining your agency's legal structure, such as a sole proprietorship, LLC (Slam is an LLC), or corporation, helps define your agency's liability and taxation. We cover how to choose the best legal structure for your business in our How to Start An Agency Course. On the operational front, you must create a clear business plan outlining your agency's goals, target market, and services.
In addition to developing pricing strategies, financial projections, and a client acquisition plan, you'll need to do the following:
- Set up a professional online presence with a well-designed website
- Create social media profiles to showcase your agency's expertise
- Secure contracts and agreements to protect your agency's interests and clearly define client expectations
These foundational steps ensure that your email marketing agency is both legally compliant and operationally prepared for success.
Following Privacy Laws in Email Marketing
In the realm of email marketing, compliance with privacy laws is paramount. The most notable regulation in this domain is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States. To adhere to these laws you must:
- Obtain explicit consent from subscribers before sending marketing emails
- Clearly state the purpose of collecting data
- Provide an easy opt-out mechanism for subscribers
Choosing the Right Pricing Structure for Your Email Marketing Agency
Choosing the pricing structure for your email marketing agency is a critical decision that impacts your agency's profitability and client acquisition. Our How to Start an Agency Course covers how to do research on the best pricing strategies for your email marketing agency.
Key considerations include assessing overhead costs, understanding the value your agency brings, and evaluating market rates. Additionally, analyzing competitors' pricing strategies and gauging market demand will help you set competitive prices aligned with your agency's objectives.
Your agency's reputation and track record are pivotal factors influencing pricing, with established agencies often asking for higher rates due to perceived expertise. The level of customization, personalization, and the frequency of email campaigns also play a role in determining fees.
Considering the size and specificity of the target audience, as well as the competitive landscape in your region or industry, is crucial. You will need to strike a balance between offering competitive rates while maintaining the profitability that is essential for effective client attraction and retention.
If you need help with effective client attraction and retention, our “How to Start an Agency” course covers everything from crafting a winning pitch deck to finding platforms you can use to get more clients!
Size and Complexity of the Client’s Email Marketing Needs
The size and complexity of your client's email marketing needs are pivotal factors that can influence your agency's pricing. Clients with larger email lists and more extensive campaigns often require more resources, time, and strategic planning, and as the scope of a project grows, so should the pricing. Additionally, the nuance of the email marketing strategy can impact pricing. Customization, segmentation, and personalization efforts demand more expertise and time, which can justify higher fees.
Furthermore, clients targeting niche or specific audiences may require additional research and tailored content, affecting the overall cost. It's crucial to assess each client's unique needs and provide a customized pricing structure that reflects the resources and effort required to deliver a successful email marketing campaign. By aligning your pricing with the client's specific needs, you can ensure a fair and mutually beneficial partnership.
Project-based pricing is a popular and flexible approach in the email marketing agency world. This pricing model is characterized by charging clients for specific email marketing campaigns or projects.
It offers transparency and allows clients to budget effectively for individual initiatives. Project-based pricing is particularly suitable for clients who require one-time campaigns, such as product launches, seasonal promotions, or special events. At the same time, it allows your agency the ability to provide a clear cost estimate for the project's scope, which can be appealing to clients seeking to avoid long-term commitments.
Remember, it's essential to carefully scope the project, outline deliverables, and agree on the pricing terms to avoid misunderstandings or scope creep. This pricing model is ideal for both agencies and clients looking for a clear and manageable way to work together on short-term email marketing endeavors.
Choosing the Right Email Marketing Tools and Software
Equipping your agency with the right email marketing tools and software is vital for streamlining your processes and delivering exceptional results. There are various tools available in the market, ranging from email automation platforms to analytics software to project management tools like Notion. Evaluating the features and capabilities of different tools, and selecting the ones that align with your agency's needs and budget, will enhance your efficiency and enable you to deliver high-quality services.
Download our How to Start an Agency Course for 20+ templates and step-by step recommendations for running a streamlined email marketing agency!
Advertising Your Email Marketing Agency
Next, you need to get the word out about your new email marketing agency – a great opportunity to put your own marketing expertise to the test! The most important first step to market your agency well is to create a professional website that is well designed, easy to navigate, uses SEO best practices, and that clearly communicates your agency’s unique value proposition. Check out our other blogs and resources to make sure you are checking all the boxes to create a fantastic website:
- SEO Terms, Explained
- Beginner Tips for SEO Benefits For Small Business Marketing
- SEO Keyword Research Template
- From Figma Design to Webflow Development: A Step-By-Step Guide
- Website Launch Checklist
In addition to a great website, you should create social media accounts for your email marketing agency on Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Facebook, depending on your target audience demographics and their social media platforms of choice. Once you create agency accounts, you should post consistently with the help of a social media editorial calendar, which will keep you organized and provide fresh ideas for social media posts.
Once you have your calendar filled with social media post ideas, you can turn to tools like Canva, which make graphic design a breeze. Add in tools like Iconosquare or SproutSocial to schedule out posts in advance, and utilize the analytics and insights provided to help understand what content is resonating the most with your target audience.
Acquiring Your Email Marketing Agency’s First Clients
Once you advertise your email marketing agency, it’s time to find clients! This can feel daunting, especially after all the legal and operational heavy lifting of starting a business. Now, you must put your sales hat on and hit the ground (or internet) running to find your first clients!
Why Sales Skills Matter for Email Marketing Agencies
Besides having a strong knowledge of email marketing strategies, sales skills are crucial for the success of your agency. As an email marketing agency owner, you will need to pitch your services to potential clients, negotiate contracts, and build long-term relationships with ease. Developing effective sales skills will enable you to attract and retain clients, ultimately driving the growth of your agency. This can include networking, reaching out to potential clients in DMs, offering free consultations or trials, and leveraging testimonials and case studies to showcase your expertise. Additionally, providing exceptional customer service and delivering measurable results will enhance client satisfaction and increase the likelihood of repeat business.
If the thought of being a salesperson makes your palms sweaty, don’t worry! Slam’s How to Start an Agency Course includes a module called “how to get your first clients” that break down the many ways for you to acquire your first client — like through friends, referrals, social media, or freelancer websites. We'll help you figure out how to get your first client and write effective messages to pitch your email marketing agency to your network.
Scaling Your Email Marketing Agency for Long-Term Success
As your email marketing agency grows and establishes a solid client base, scaling becomes a crucial objective for long-term success. This involves hiring and training a competent team, automating redundant tasks, and investing in technology and infrastructure to support your agency's expansion. Additionally, continuously innovating and diversifying your service offerings will ensure that your agency remains competitive and adapts to evolving industry trends.
With the email marketing industry constantly evolving, this can present new challenges and opportunities for you as an email marketing agency owner. To combat this, try to stay informed about industry trends by attending conferences and webinars, and networking with industry professionals.
Not sure where to find a network of industry professionals? Our How to Start an Agency Course includes a log-in component that allows you to belong to a community of like-minded digital marketers and entrepreneurs starting their own agencies. Ultimately, by continuously honing your skills, embracing innovation, and delivering exceptional value to your clients, you can position your agency as a leader in the email marketing industry.
Looking for information on how to start a different type of marketing agency? Check out the guides below!
- How to Start an SEO Agency
- How to Start a Design Agency
- How to Start a Facebook Ad Agency
- How to Start a Creative Agency
- How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency
- How to Start a Content Marketing Agency
- How to Start a Google Ads Agency
- How to Start a PR Agency
- How to Start a Social Media Marketing Agency