Why sell email marketing services?
There’s one particularly good reason why you should sell email services. If you’re freelancing, email services provide a prime opportunity to maintain ongoing, potentially lucrative relationships with clients.
Designers and developers often find that they have few reasons to continue the client relationship once they’ve delivered the site they were contracted to provide. Email is a very handy solution to the challenge of maintaining close client relationships over time.
MORE THAN JUST A DESIGNER OR DEVELOPER
Yes!If you see yourself purely as a web designer or developer, it’s time to broaden that view. The first important step in selling your email services is to recognize your capabilities in email design and delivery. Then you’ll be able to see—and present—yourself as someone who designs or develops more than websites alone.
A client who’s just paid good money to have a website developed will usually be quick to grasp the potential that email marketing offers, and they’ll want to make the most of it. As we know, email is an established, widely used online marketing tool that’s readily embraced by users: a recent Nielsen showed that 90 percent of consumers prefer to hear from brands via email newsletter, while just 10 percent prefer Facebook. For clients who are focused on brand—and revenue—building online, email will usually be a logical, and, indeed, essential part of the plan. And who better than you, their trusted web designer or developer, to provide that service?
Similarly, email services can be a good way to get your foot in the door of organizations for which you’d like to do more work. Approach a prospect who you know doesn’t currently use email to communicate with industry or client contacts, secure a contract to design and deliver a new email newsletter or catalog, and you might have the beginnings of a great—and growing—business relationship.
In any case, the benefits of a recurring revenue that results from an ongoing contract for email services are evident. If you’ve been looking to provide add-on services that will give you a reliable bread-and-butter income each month, email offerings are an excellent place to start.
What can you sell?
So, you want to sell email marketing services. What exactly does that mean? If you’re a freelancer, it’s likely you’ve already identified the essential skills you’ll be able to sell to clients.
IDENTIFY YOUR EXPERTISE
Yes!Before you try to work out what you can sell, it’s important to recognize the difference between selling technical services and selling marketing services. For those of us who’ve spent our careers designing and building websites, it may seem quite a leap to shift from that skill set to selling email marketing services. What if the client wants advice on audience segmentation, content strategy, or some other marketing related aspect of email?
Perhaps you already have experience in email marketing, so you’re comfortable with responding to client questions on these topics. On the other hand, you may prefer to restrict your offering to the purely technical: design, testing, delivery, list management, and tracking. Whatever the case, now is a good time to start thinking about these issues and identifying the areas in which you feel you can best help your clients.
In this section, we’ll stick specifically to the technical aspects of the email services you might sell. If you want to move beyond these to sell email marketing services, SitePoint’s The Email Marketing Kit (Melbourne: SitePoint, 2007), by Jeanne S. Jennings, has all the advice you’ll need.
Despite the wealth of usable email marketing tools out there, many clients are hesitant to take responsibility for inputting and sending emails themselves. If you’re happy to drop the template you’ve developed into your own, or a web-based, email service, prepare the mailing list, and hit the Send button, those clients may be happy to pay you for your help.
Given the various legal implications associated building email subscriber lists, it’s no surprise that many site managers would prefer to hand responsibility for the management of email lists, subscriptions, and unsubscribes to a skilled professional like you. If your client wants to merge two databases into one, they may need you to wash the databases against one another to remove problem addresses (invalid and dummy addresses, for example) from the mix, as well as ensure that individuals who’ve signed up to both lists are included in the merged subscriber list only once.
Campaign review and consultation
We’re straying into email marketing territory here, but even if you decide you’ll only provide technical services, you may be able to recommend layout or design tweaks that might boost subscription rates, increase open rates, or reduce opt-outs for your clients. You might also provide A/B testing facilities (including design, delivery, and review) for clients who want to hone their email marketing efforts.
Within these broad categories, you may be able to think of a number of offerings to interest existing or prospective customers. The way you integrate these offerings will depend on your clients, your level of interest, and how you choose to package your services.
As an example, you might decide to offer a full email newsletter service that includes the following features:
- the design of subscription forms and a subscription page for the client’s site
- the design of email templates to be sent via an autoresponder to sign up customers successfully
- the design of an email newsletter template
- A/B testing of two separate newsletter executions to work out which is the most effective with the client’s user base
- subscription list management, including sign-ups and duplicates, bounces, and unsubscribes handling
- monthly production and mailing of the newsletter using content provided by the client
- the production of a monthly email report showing the total messages sent, delivered, opened, and bounced for each mail-out (you could also provide cumulative reports that show statistical behavior over time)
How to sell email services
Now that you’ve worked out what you’re going to sell, let’s think about how you go about selling it.
Selling email services involves three components. The first task is to work out what you’ll charge for your offering, and on what basis you’ll apply those charges. We’ll look at this topic next.
Then, you’ll need to work out how to pitch these new services successfully to your clients. In the section called “Preparing Your Pitch” I’ll prepare a few items that can help you communicate the possibilities and benefits of email for your clients.
Finally, in the section called “Promoting Email Services to Clients and Prospects” we’ll look at the ways you might announce your new email services to existing and prospective clients.We’ll also see how you can integrate them seamlessly into your overall service offering.
Pricing email marketing services
When it comes to pricing your services, the world is, effectively, your oyster. Let’s look at pricing on the basis of the way you might offer your services: on a per-skill basis, and as a series of package deals.
Pricing your skills
If you’ve decided to sell your services on the basis of skills—template design, delivery, list management, and so on—you’re probably looking at two charging options.
The most obvious option is to charge by the hour, but you could charge a flat fee instead; the latter acts as a sort of “easy sell” that stops your less confident or more budget-conscious clients from worrying just how much they’ll wind up paying for the service. Table 6.1 lists some of the services we discussed above, and identifies their most common pricing options.
Table 6.1. Services and the Common Charging Options
|Template design||Hourly rate or flat fee|
|Creative amendments||Hourly rate or flat fee|
|Email delivery||Calculated on the basis of list size|
|Mail-out review and consultation||Hourly rate or flat fee|
|Database washing||Hourly rate or calculated on the basis of list size|
|Mail-out report provision||Flat fee|
|A/B testing and reporting||Hourly rate or flat fee|
|List management||Hourly rate, flat fee, or calculated on the basis of list size|
|List and image hosting||Calculated on the basis of file size/storage required|
As you can see in Table 6.1, the one area where charging by the hour is less appropriate is where the list size plays a role. Many freelancers base their email delivery service charges on the size of the mail-out, since the costs of the mailing increase as the list grows. The same logic applies to hosting and list management service charges.
It’s also important to note that although some of these services—particularly list and image hosting—may be included in a web-based email management service package, many freelancers charge clients separately for them. It’s true that these items might fall outside the freelancer’s direct action. However, they may see these charges as offsetting related costs that may not be covered by their own client service package price. For example, if they need to liaise with the email service’s support team over the hosting of image files, or to obtain backups of client data at some point, there’ll be no need to charge the client separately for those hours, since they’ve already been covered by the hosting price.
In choosing which pricing method to use, you’ll probably gravitate toward your current pricing approach. But you should always consider how the client will react. If they’re unfamiliar with email marketing and have never collected details for a subscriber list before, a flat fee may put their minds at ease regarding the potential of costs escalating. Alternatively, your existing clients may be curious if you, a staunch by-the-hour designer, suddenly offer services for a flat fee. And if you do opt for flat-fee pricing, keep in mind that some clients will take up more of your time than others.
You might want to set your price at a point that allows for some back and forth with the client, or contains a percentage of “fat” for unexpected discussions or delays. This is especially relevant if you’ve created a flat-fee structure to convince clients who are inexperienced with email to give it a try. You may need to do extra legwork to keep them comfortable and answer their questions as the development progresses. Be sure to allow some form of extra time in your flat-fee structure.
Ultimately, the answer to the question of pricing really depends on you, your clients, your relationships, and the way you do business. If you’d feel happier charging by the hour for everything, and you can sell this option to current and potential clients, go for it.
Pricing service packages
Pricing service packages like the one we discussed in the section called “What Can You Sell?” will obviously require you to work out how much you’ll charge for each component of the package first. You may find that when you group tasks into a complete bundle, working on them becomes more of a fluid process than would completing these tasks individually. You also stand to gain economies in the project management aspect of the job, given that you’ll be working with one client across the spectrum of tasks. These continuity benefits might allow you to shave an hour off here or there, providing better value than you would if providing the services individually.
But what should you do if a client wants only some of the services on offer? The example we saw in the section called “What Can You Sell?” included A/B testing. But what if, perhaps for reasons of time or budget pressure, your client doesn’t want to test their email? Can you remove that service from the package? If so, by how much will that affect the package’s price?
If you’ve reduced your overall package price to account for the benefits that the continuity of the work will bring, you won’t want to cut the package price by the original cost you allotted to A/B testing, since that now represents a larger portion of the “optimized” price. In this case, it might be more accurate to reduce the overall package cost by a percentage of that original sum you calculated for A/B testing.
Perhaps you’ll develop a standard calculation that allows you to to drop in or pull out components of your service package easily. This will make it easier to establish how much the price will change if a client adds or removes a component from the package, and saves you having to go back to the pricing drawing board every time they decide to add or drop a service.
However you structure your pricing, it’s important that you communicate it clearly and transparently to clients. We’ll look at these considerations next.
Preparing your pitch
In preparing to actually sell your email services to clients and prospects, you’ll need more than an idea of what you’ll offer and how you’ll charge. Your clients may be eager email marketers, or they may have no experience at all in this field. You’ll know where your clients sit on this spectrum, and from this point it’s a matter of putting together the collateral that will convince them to pay for your email services.
Your sales pitch
Whether you prepare a pre-sales whitepaper to introduce prospects to the benefits of email services, or simply spend half an hour discussing the topic with them over a coffee, you need to be able to prove that email marketing delivers.
The Direct Marketing Association’s research on the average return on investment for email is available on its site, and its key findings are regularly reported in various news sources. A quick web search will turn up the most current research results, which you can use in your discussions with clients. The same is true for data on email market penetration, its usage by organizations in particular countries, and the acceptance of email marketing by target recipients. This kind of information can make persuasive reading (or listening!) for your prospects. You might even consider creating a quick comparison of how email performs against other marketing tactics to clearly indicate the effectiveness of email.
As well as answering the question, “Why should I use email?”, you might need to explain to prospects why they need to pay for email when they can send it from their own computers free of charge. You’ll want to show them how easy, flexible, and cost-effective email campaign management can be, and the benefits it delivers. Explain the kinds of headaches prospects can avoid if they use appropriate tools to manage their mailing lists. Step them through the process of setting up a test campaign in your system, using them and yourself as recipients. And highlight the value of the tracking data they can gain through a properly managed campaign, perhaps by showing them examples of tracking reports.
If you’ve already run a campaign or two for clients (or yourself) you might prepare case examples of those campaigns that identify the clients’ objectives, how you met their needs, and what sort of results they obtained in a given time frame. Be sure to obtain permission to mention the names of the clients to which you’ve provided email services—it’s sure to encourage your prospects to start wondering if they’ll be left behind if they bypass email marketing.
LACKING ANY REAL-LIFE EMAIL CAMPAIGN RESULTS?
Yes!If you don’t have any results of actual campaigns that are suitable to use as case studies, you might be able to compile that information in other ways:
- Ask a peer or associate if they can provide you with some live, anonymous data to use in your sales kit.
- Run a few campaigns of your own for side projects you have on the go, and use that information to create reports that prove how easy it is to monitor email campaigns.
- Search for such case studies online or in relevant print publications. Educational email marketing materials often detail real-life campaigns and explain how and why they were successful.
Finally, compile electronic and printed examples of different email types so that your prospects can gain a clear idea of which formats might work for them. Consider also preparing a schedule of rates for your email services or packages so they can see at a glance what kind of money they need to spend to reach a given audience size.
Your email service folio
A email service folio is an excellent sales tool, as it provides visual proof that you can create what you promise. Even if you’re just starting out in this field, and you have no working email examples, you might create samples of the different email types to show prospects. A collection of carefully honed examples will indicate even to the least creative of your prospects what you can do for them.
YOUR NAME HERE!
Yes!While you’re preparing different email examples, why not tailor them specifically to your prospects? You could include their logo and brand name in the design, and reflect their products, services, and clientele in the content. As well as attention- grabbing, this tactic can help your prospects establish a connection between their brand and email marketing.
If you have real campaign data, marry the creative examples with brief fact sheets that identify the response rates generated, and the return the clients gained on their investments. This information will go a long way to convincing prospects that you know what you’re doing. Not only does it show that you’re focused on the business benefits of email, it also proves that you can help them achieve real results.
Presenting your folio online, along with case information, testimonials, and results data wherever you can is undoubtedly your best option for presenting your email service capabilities. Once you’ve completed email projects for a few clients, you might like to present a case study for each of the services or packages you offer. In the meantime, publish examples of your creative output to show off your capabilities in email marketing.
Promoting email services to clients and prospects
So you’ve prepared your sales materials, and you’re ready to start selling email services. Great! But how can you promote those services to your clients? Should you just give them a call and set up a meeting to discuss the topic? Or try to slip email services casually into your next conversation?
Your sales approach will depend on your clients and your own personal style. Here are a few tactics you might consider for communicating your new service to clients:
Start your own email newsletter
If you’re yet to do so already, create an email newsletter that you can send regularly to clients. You might use it to keep them updated on your service offering and additions to your online folio, point them to research that may help them use their website to its full potential, or provide them with web tips and hints. A well-planned and executed email newsletter can be a good way to practice what, effectively, you’re trying to preach. It’ll also give you some folio pieces and live mailing statistics that you can use in sales pitches.
Add the new service offering to your website
Remember to add information about your email services to your website. Potential clients who visit the site will then be aware of your full service offering, which is likely to push you higher up their shortlist of potential providers.
Approach existing clients
Go through your current client list and identify the businesses you believe will particularly benefit from your new services. Contact the appropriate people to set up a meeting so you can explain how email might fit into their marketing and online strategies. If you’ve prepared a whitepaper or article about the benefits of email, you might opt to send it through to them before the meeting. Finally, tailor a pitch that includes a specialized email sample with their brand and business, plus clear recommendations about the ways in which email might help them achieve their goals, and which of your services you believe will best benefit them.
Approach new clients
You may use your new services as a basis to target prospects who you haven’t worked with before. If you can see an opportunity for email in a given organization, you might find others in the same industry that are yet to embrace the benefits of email. You may use some of the more traditional promotional means—printing postcards, writing articles on email’s relevance and benefits for industry publications, attending local networking events, and so on—to reach these new clients.
Build email services into your brand
You may think that adding your new service listing to your website and placing examples of your work in your folio is all you need to do to make email part of your repertoire. But these tactics are just the start—you can go much further. Consider:
- commenting on email marketing research, news and developments, the campaigns you’re working on, and the success of email as a communications medium through the social networking tools you use
- building email into every pitch you make to a client
- adding an “Email services” item to your website’s main navigation or your organization’s tag line
- making email integral to your own business’s communications, to build your brand, communicate with your audiences, and promote your offerings
You may wish to avoid diluting the strong brand you’ve built by becoming “the email person” overnight. Despite this, focusing strongly on email can help establish it as a key part of your service offering, especially in the early stages. Be creative in your search for promotional opportunities. Perhaps you’ll put up your hand to mail match schedules and results to members of your soccer club, and maintain the subscriber email database. Design an eye-catching template on an otherwise quiet afternoon, and you may well impress some friends who want to use email in their businesses, or who know someone who could!