Should Ecommerce Stores Hire An Email Marketing Agency Or Go In-house?

With annual email marketing revenue approaching $10 billion in 2022, it’s time to prioritize email. But should you partner with an email marketing agency, or handle email (and SMS) in-house?

I represent an email marketing agency, so you already know where this is going. More importantly, we’re optimists. We know that partnerships between businesses and agencies like ours are the best way to navigate the technical and regulatory challenges of email marketing in an increasingly online age – and we’re here to explain why that is.

When it comes to email marketing, there’s no need for you to go it alone. In fact, collaborating with professionals is the key to scaling your marketing and capturing the revenue that’s currently out of reach. We’re going to break it down using two metrics everyone cares about: time and money.

Email Marketing: the Need for Speed

The single best reason to keep email marketing in-house is (or used to be) immediate, face-to-face communication with employees. This usually means you can keep close tabs on your teams. That’s not always as good it sounds (more on this later). Another reason companies choose to keep their email and SMS marketing in-house is that they can get going without delay. Your employees are your employees, after all, and they know your business and your audience already. This should be a cinch.

Why In-House Email Marketing is Out of Touch

But email and SMS marketing get more complex year on year, technically and even legally. Like it or not, it’s just no longer an environment for generalists. Building a successful in-house strategy means repurposing a general marketing team to take on very specialized challenges that they’re not prepared for:

  • Specific expertise in retention marketing
  • Content planning
  • Sale event coordination
  • Hyping an audience
  • Re-engagement
  • Deliverability
  • Analytics and reporting

These are all key processes and competencies that in-house marketing teams need to develop from scratch in order to launch successful email and SMS campaigns. And that has to happen over and above the essential work they’re doing already. The time you expected to save is now getting sunk into upskilling, retraining and sourcing tech tools – and you’re still on the starting block.

Email Marketing Agencies: Gateways to an International Talent Network

Earlier, we acknowledged that working in-house offers one significant advantage: immediate communication. Coordinating remotely – even across time zones – seems to invite unwelcome complexity. And that certainly used to be true. But with the rapid acceleration of remote working, even in-house teams work asynchronously in many cases. The upheaval of recent years has driven innovation to the point that seamless remote workflow is now possible, even preferable.

For any business, that represents an opportunity to access global talent, without compromising on urgency. That’s huge, and it changes the game: the extensive re-purposing we outlined earlier is, for the first time, redundant. A good agency packages all of those skills for you, making it so much easier to scale. Unlike many agencies, remote work isn’t something we’ve had to adapt to – Hustler Marketing has been remote from day one. We activate our global talent network to produce results for our clients right off the bat, with an increase in revenue within the first month. Campaigns start running after week 2, and flows kick in within 4-8 weeks.

The Cost of Email Marketing: Cheaper to Fly Solo?

 So, agencies have the edge in terms of speed, but what about money? Let’s talk about the relative costs of email marketing in today’s environment.

In-House Marketing: Hidden Costs

Now more than ever, it takes expertise to get email marketing right. Tighter privacy regulation makes it more difficult to get into inboxes to begin with. Once you’ve crossed that barrier, you need to make sure your messaging is converting people. And therein lies the rub: your emails need to be good enough to outcompete hundreds of other emails every day. To do that, you need content and design to work in harmony.

When all is said and done, you’re left with multiple technical and creative workflows that all hinge on specialists. If you’re employing them all, costs mount – fast. And salaries, benefits and HR processes are just the beginning.

H4 Email Marketing Tools: a Heavyweight Tech Stack

Even a dream team of account managers, technicians and creatives can’t do much without the right tools. Agencies use powerful tech solutions to build templates, run split tests, monitor clicks and integrate calendars. Without these tools, all you have is a network of specialists working, inevitably, in silos. But these tools are expensive. After all, they’re built for (and marketed to) agencies. Acquiring them yourself is a further unnecessary overhead that will simply eat into the revenue you generate with them.

Agency: Firing On All Cylinders

These problems are what agencies exist to solve. While we can’t speak for all agencies, we’ve built a solution that offers real bang for your buck. Here’s how it looks:

When you join the Hustle, you get your own Account Manager from our 25-person mastermind team. Your AM connects you to a creative workflow that includes a designer, a copywriter and a Klaviyo expert. This team is on call when you need them, and you’ll have a weekly session with your AM to refine strategy and maintain alignment. Crucially for business owners, we maintain stringent internal quality assurance standards. They’re reflected in the way we work, right from our olympian recruitment process to our internal training and development.

All of that means you retain oversight and decision-making power, without the headache of micromanaging teams and monitoring for typos, links and flow logic. Your AM translates your joint vision, manages deadlines and supervises your creative assets from the initial brief to the final send. That’s the kind of expertise that comes from belonging to one of the top 8 Klaviyo partner agencies in the world. There are a lot of great freelancers out there, but how many can offer that?

For all this and many other services that an email marketing agency offers, I guess it’s a no-brainer that mature and serious businesses outsource this critical function to an email marketing agency.