Chances are you are working with an agency in some capacity in your marketing efforts.
When it comes to email and landing pages, agencies can play an important role. From strategy, to creative, to coding and execution. They fill skills gaps, uplevel content, and can provide additional bandwidth when your team is stretched too thin.
Agencies are a critical part of the campaign journey.
In 2023, when many companies are looking to be more efficient – this may be an area to dig into.
With the latest innovations in technology, hand-coding emails, landing pages and templates is no longer needed – and it is certainly not where an agency should be focused or racking up billable hours. They should be focused on where they can provide higher value – on more strategic initiatives that create opportunities.
How can you do this? By finding some cost and time efficiencies in campaign creation, you can take your agency out of the coding business and into a strategic marketing position. Start with some questions you should ask your current agency to ensure you’re getting the most for the price tag that comes with them:
1. Where do the majority of my billable hours get used?
Any time spent working on tasks or projects for you by the agency are considered billable hours. This means they will either eat away at your monthly allowance of hours, or you will be charged an hourly rate for time spent on these projects. Billable hours can add up quickly.
Understanding the breakdown of the billable hours to see where your hours (and therefore cost!) is being allocated is critical.
Are billable hours piling up from hand-coding emails and landing pages or are they spending time on strategy and content? Using agencies for campaign execution tasks such as coding emails and landing pages – is frankly, a massive waste of money with the marketing technology that is available today that can do this job directly by empowering your marketing team. Review the contract with your agency to break down and see where their time is spent to determine how to get the biggest bang for your buck.
2. Where do you think you can add the most value to our business?
Your agency should be able to answer this easily — after all, they should be able to pinpoint exactly where they bring value to your organization – or perhaps where they think they could add more value if budget was available for them to work with you on other initiatives. If they believe the only value they add are gap-filling technical resource shortages relating to coding emails and landing pages, you should regard this as a red flag.
3. Are there process or execution issues that they find frustrating that could be improved?
Often, clients are frustrated by the long wait times they have for their agency to turn around an email campaign for them (in some cases, an email and landing page can take 6 weeks or longer!). Expectations to move faster can come with “rush” costs from agencies that are frustrated with unrealistic expectations for shorter turnaround times and heroic efforts. You may need to question why this is happening – does the agency not realize there are ways to modernize this process or is it you that is holding back on improving these processes and just using the agency for time-consuming coding? Ask them how they could help you take your campaign processes to the next level instead, with speed and efficiency.
4. How long does it actually take your agency to code an email or landing page?
Today’s martech solutions can allow anyone in an organization to build an email or landing page in minutes – not hours or days. With no code and no technical skills required, it makes it simple for anyone on your team to join in on the creative process. In addition, these tools can provide usage stats that prove just how long this takes. For example, in the case of Knak, it takes an average of 22 minutes to build an email. If the agency is billing you long build times for coding, it’s definitely time to find a better way.
5. Is there a better way for us to build, review, edit and collaborate on creating emails and landing pages?
Quite often, the process that exists between an agency and a client is that the request for the campaign will be conceptualized and often built in several tools to go back and forth for requests, copy, design and image elements. Edits will happen and it will go back and forth again in all the different tools. Sometimes, massive spreadsheets or forms that are built with incredible complexity are used and the process becomes a slow-moving and frustrating situation for both parties.
With today’s martech tools, teams can collaborate and build all elements of an email and landing page within a platform that has the ability to comment, review, edit and test easily – all in one spot. This means that teams can all collaborate on building an email – with each team member adding their expertise to the project and commenting and editing within the platform – allowing for on-the-spot changes, testing and approvals very quickly.
6. What are some of the other clients you work with doing to innovate in this area?
Part of the beauty of contracting an agency is for expertise. They gain this by working with several clients and learning best practices and sharing them with others. They see new and innovative ways their best clients are moving forward – and they also see archaic and slow processes from clients that are behind the times. Ask them how quickly their most innovative clients can move on campaign creation and what they are doing to get those results. Be wary that many may not want to discuss efficiencies and modern technology that can be used for campaign creation because coding every email and landing page for you can create a great number of billable hours. Shouldn’t those billable hours be put towards modernizing your infrastructure instead for better, faster and more strategic campaigns?
7. What tools can we use to improve our processes?
The right tool makes everyone’s job easier — and agencies should be recommending them to their clients to best optimize their results.
If they don’t seem to have knowledge of the latest martech tools that can be used to speed up processes and take campaigns out of the dark ages, it should be a red flag.
Ask them what tools can speed up email and landing page builds that will help you get better, faster campaigns out the door. Make sure they integrate seamlessly with the marketing automation platforms you use like Marketo, Pardot, Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Eloqua, among others to ensure you don’t have to rip and replace, but just improve processes at the lowest cost. Ask them how your own team can contribute to the creation and execution of campaigns in a codeless, quicker and easier way without having to allow all team members into your marketing automation platform.
8. If you didn’t have to code emails and landing pages, what strategic efforts could we use our agency hours for to create new opportunities?
What better way to improve your working relationship with them than by asking what you can do differently as well?
Bluntly, agencies can be super expensive. And you want to make sure you’re doing everything in your power to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth. So asking what you’re doing that works or what you can improve on is a great place to start.
Do they have a marketing operations practice that could consult with you to build out your martech stack? Perhaps do more analysis and process improvement? Or brainstorm creative ideas for new marketing campaigns?
It’s also a good stepping stone to deciding if this relationship is still beneficial to you. If you take the time to optimize things on your end, and the relationship still isn’t working, then it’s a pretty good indicator that this isn’t the right fit.
9. How can I empower my marketing team to be more creative while still keeping my brand safeguarded?
Most often, creating emails and landing pages becomes such a lengthy and complicated process for marketing teams, it creates frustrations for marketers who no longer are given the freedom or opportunity to be creative. They instead become form-fillers and process execution experts.
But wait – don’t many marketers actually go into marketing because it’s creative? Sadly, yes, but marketing has become such a complicated landscape of martech tools, measurements and analysis that often creativity is lost. However, with the right tools, you can enable your marketers to be creative and increase overall happiness in the organization.
10. Are there tools I can use to decentralize my campaign creation process while also safeguarding my brand?
Many companies ask if decentralizing campaign creation means putting the brand at risk and creating a wild west for their marketing operations team. The answer here is no, definitely not, if you implement the right tools. An agency should be guiding you and consulting with you to improve your processes – not just keep a status quo of doing the same thing over and over. Today’s martech tools have brand guidelines built right in to ensure that marketing teams can be creative with control over the brand guidelines. This gives both your marketers freedom to create and marketing operations and agencies the freedom to get out of coding processes and the ability to focus on what matters.
Re-evaluating how your investments are performing is pretty typical when it comes to finances, and you want to keep that same energy when it comes to your agency performance.
Technology platforms, such as Knak, can help you speed up your campaign process and empower your marketers to be creative. They help all of your team members contribute to the process in one place – whether its copywriters, designers or your demand gen team. You can also allow team members to edit, review and approve all in the same spot with all the brand controls you need to safeguard your investments.
They provide access to the creative process without having to access the data in your complex systems and free up time with your marketing operations team so they can focus on other strategic initiatives. And best of all, they allow you to re-focus your agency on where you’re going to drive that next opportunity and how to reach your goals and KPI’s rather than robotically coding your emails and landing pages and simply taking care of campaign execution in your marketing automation platform. This makes your cost of email very high in an organization – a place you don’t realize excessive amounts of money are spent.
These questions will help you ensure you’re getting the most value possible from your agency — not just a ton of billable hours. Both parties should be happy and focused on what matters – improving your bottom line and the business as a whole.
To learn more about how some other companies have improved campaign efficiencies, visit our customer stories:
If you’d like to begin your journey to better, faster campaign creation right away, book a demo here.