Today we're talking to Scott Jacques, partner at Active Ingredients, a San Francisco based design firm that's been using Campaign Monitor for themselves and their clients for the last 2 years. We asked Scott a few questions about selling email design to his clients, charging for his services and even the biggest email mistakes he's made to date. Plenty of great insights in here that I hope you guys find useful.
How did you get started providing email marketing services to your clients?
It was a natural extension of what we were already doing for our clients (websites). We saw it as a great opportunity for our clients to be able to communicate with their constituents in a highly effective and professional manner. It has been a great learning experience for us as well - one that is always changing - as you well know.
Has it been hard to convince your clients to embrace email marketing? How do you approach this and any tips to share?
"The key - we have found - is to not over promise what email can do for them but rather to find a small way to start the email communication process and evolve from there."
The attitude with our clients has changed dramatically but it is still amazing how many clients (regardless of how you pitch them on email) still associate it with buying lists and sending out unwanted emails. The key - we have found - is to not over promise what email can do for them but rather to find a small way to start the email communication process and evolve from there.
We quite often hear our clients groan as they think email is going to result in a ton of new work for them. What they don't realize is that sometimes the work is already done and they just need to see how the email channel can assist in that process.
Example - A law firm is putting on a speaking engagement and they have gone through the process of creating slick print pieces and mailing them out without even considering how email can help with their efforts to get the word out and ensure a great turnout for the event. What a great way to compliment the print piece and ensure the message gets out than to leverage some design elements and copy from the print piece and put together a nice looking email template. We typically find that a client says, "Wow - that makes a lot of sense. And we are spending a ton on the printing and mailing of these pieces."
How much of your current schedule is spent on email marketing for your clients?
"It is nice to be able to offer a solution that ranges from a complete self serve tool to a managed solution where we assist them with the sending of campaigns."
It is growing every month (more and more clients want to know how to leverage the email channel) and thanks to the outstanding tools you guys have created we can offer up a variety of solutions for our clients depending on their budget, their role and their goals.
It is nice to be able to offer a solution that ranges from a complete self serve tool like MailBuild to a managed solution where we assist them with the sending of campaigns. This way we know we can meet the needs of any type of client.
How do you charge your clients for your email marketing services?
Typically we start with an initial consultation to define what their goals and objective are (everything from how they would like to manage their campaigns to who they want to communicate with). From there we start the creative process to develop a template or templates that will support those communications. So basically we charge for a consulting/design/process setup fee and then we have a fee per every email campaign (if we work with them on the setup and delivery of emails).
What do you think is the biggest benefit of email marketing?
There are so many but I think the one that comes to mind (at least today) is the immediacy with which you can dispatch an email to a large group of customers or partners in a very timely and cost effective manner.
From your own experiences, what's the biggest challenge right now in email design?
I think a big challenge (design related) is the issue of Microsoft's decision to revert to Word as default reader for emails. It is a rather large step backwards. Not sure what motivated that decision but we will see what happens. Thanks to Campaign Monitor's insight we can look to you for best practices on how to deal with this issue.
How do you communicate campaign results back to your clients?
It all depends on how we manage the delivery process with a client. In some cases, depending on their comfort level, we will grant them access to the reporting area via password and they can login post campaign to view results. In other cases we will extract the information ourselves and place into a Word file to send to the client. Some times less is best in terms of what information they need to see (again based on their comfort level).
Any email marketing secrets to share with your fellow designers?
"Jumping into design and firing off emails with no real understanding of why you are doing it or who you are sending it to will not help anyone."
No real secrets. Only a good common sense approach to email. When you client says "we need to start using email", have a process in place so that you can walk them through a needs assessment to ensure that what you deploy is going to help them meet their objectives and goals. Jumping into design and firing off emails with no real understanding of why you are doing it or who you are sending it to will not help anyone.
Has it been hard for your team to transition from web design to email design?
I think the biggest issues were more from a technical perspective. Our design is always user focused and results oriented regardless of whether it is for email, a micro site or an email, so once we were familiar with the landscape of email design we applied those same principles.
What's the biggest email marketing mistake you've made to date?
Ah yes. Not testing properly across various email clients and having an email go out prematurely. This quite often results from a poor communication gap where a request for an email comes in the same day it needs to be delivered and then everyone is scrambling to meet same day deadline. This all comes back to a defined email communication program and process being in place with a client to help avoid these situations.
From the Active Ingredients portfolio...
Here are 2 great looking samples from the Active Ingredients' Campaign Monitor portfolio.