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One of the questions I consistently hear during the first call with a prospective client is, “How much does an email agency cost?” or “How do email agencies structure their fees?”
In reality, price is an important screener for both parties.
For the buyer, it’s important to know if the budget is enough to hire a full-service email-marketing firm. More importantly, they should investigate the value and experience they can expect for their investment. Options exist for marketers seeking email help at rock-bottom prices, but a quality full-service agency isn’t likely to discount its prices to match these low-price providers—for several reasons.
First, demand for experienced email marketers remains high.
Second, quality email agencies must employ experienced email marketers to deliver for their clients.
Third, experienced email marketers command highly competitive salaries, which translates directly into hourly rates.
Instead of lowering prices, quality email agencies partner with their clients to ensure the programs the agency implements drive a positive return on investment. In short, every dollar you spend with an agency should result in substantially more money hitting your organization’s bottom line.
For the agency, it is important to know if the prospective client has the financial resources required to pay for quality work. Top-tier email agencies don’t want to be put in a position where they either go way over budget, or rush deliverables and risk producing substandard work.
On the contrary, top-tier agencies know it takes money to make money. Reaping the rewards of a well-run email-marketing program requires an up-front investment, but in time, the investment should drive consistent and predictable incremental revenue for the buyer.
Ultimately, agency pricing is tied to time. Most full-service email agencies will have a blended hourly rate of somewhere between $125 and $200 per hour, which consists of team members with extensive experience that may cost $250/hour or more, and less-experienced team members with lower hourly rates.
Every email-marketing program is unique and these unique factors impact email agency pricing models. Here are some common factors that tend to drive price:
The vast majority of agency services are performed either on a project or retainer base. And when prospects ask, “How much will an email agency cost?” there is already an assumption about which model they are thinking about.
The advantage of project-based engagements is that it provides very clear parameters and expectations for the engagement, given that exactly what will (and will not) be delivered for a specified amount is documented in the contract. This can be particularly useful in establishing new agency-client relationships and helping the parties get comfortable working with each other.
Good candidates for project-based engagements include audits, strategy development, remediation of deliverability issues, new integrations, platform migrations, template development, and implementation of trigger programs or journeys.
Alternatively, a monthly retainer provides the greatest flexibility and sense of partnership. In this arrangement, agency resources act in a staff augmentation capacity with defined roles. The agency is responsible for results: e.g., increasing engagement, driving more leads, generating more revenue, etc. Thus, the retainer approach allows for the agency to easily redirect efforts to those projects that are likely to be the most impactful. In our experience, this type of relationship provides the greatest long-term benefit to the client, as agency service teams are aligned in looking for the next opportunity to make a demonstrable impact on the client’s bottom line.
At Trendline Interactive, our focus is serving enterprise organizations and helping them to run and optimize their email programs. Our project-based engagements generally range from $10k-100k. Retainers consisting of multiple team members performing different roles start around $20k per month and can go up significantly depending on the factors outlined above.
Although a wide variety of factors impact pricing, ultimately agency costs are tied to the resources required to meet the client’s objectives. These come down to three major factors:
As you may have surmised, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Whether you go the retainer route or opt to work on a per-project basis, working with an agency is a highly collaborative endeavor. Pricing will similarly vary according to how you engage the agency. Though email boasts the highest ROI of any digital channel, it only works when done correctly—and collaboratively.
Contact us to setup a no obligation call to discuss your email marketing needs.