10 Signs It’s Time To Work With An Email Marketing Agency

Sara Kappler
8 min readMay 3, 2024

Imagine this scenario: You’ve started a business and hired a team of freelancers to help you with your website and marketing. But you’re not getting results, and you can’t understand why. The freelancer did what he said he’d do. So where’s the disconnect? You realize you skipped the part where the goals were set, and instead jumped into the tactics without thinking through the strategy. You sigh, realizing your mistake.

If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation — you’re not alone. It’s incredibly frustrating to make investments without seeing results, but it’s also common and part of any entrepreneurial journey. Don’t dwell, don’t fret; just learn from it, and don’t make the same mistake twice!

When we speak with potential clients, we hear all about these failed attempts and initiatives, and there’s no shame or judgement. We’re here to help — and the silver lining of this kind of failure is that it tends to make you aware that you need to be doing something differently.

“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.”

In this blog post, we reflect on this and share the top 10 signs that it’s time to work with an email marketing agency.

#1: You’re realizing that email marketing got real technical, real fast.

A/B testing? Color design for dark mode? Link tracking? Consent and compliance? GDPR? List hygiene?

You don’t have time for that.

When you started, it was a fun side project. Now, it’s evolved, and the more you learn about it, the more you realize it’s surprisingly complicated.

You’re at the stage where it doesn’t make sense to manage all the technical pieces because your time is better spent on other parts of the business. You’d rather outsource to someone who can get it done — and done right the first time.

You’re ready to hire experts and get your time back and headache relieved.

#2: No one is accountable for metrics.

You may have a team — a copywriter, a designer, a coordinator — and you may work together. But you may realize that no one is accountable for performance.

Like Ferris Bueller, “Anyone?”

Will the copywriter take ownership when a campaign performs poorly?

The graphic designer?

The virtual assistant?

You’re getting frustrated because you need this to pay off and create a return. You don’t have time to just try. This isn’t about portfolio building, it’s about building your business.

Accountability in email means someone to both do the strategy and the execution. You won’t get far with only half of the puzzle because email has so many feedback loops and nitty-gritty details to it. Only when these two roles are connected does it make sense to have conversations about goals and targets.

If you’re looking to do this in-house, then you’re looking for a director-level role + email team.

Most of our clients don’t have the budget to hire a full in-house email marketing team; that’s why the agency model works for many. You essentially get a complete part-time team that’s cost-effective and makes sense. And you get an agency to be accountable for email performance.

#3: You’re ready to learn.

When you work with an agency, you should learn from them and your own data. They should share best practices with you.

What are the best send times?

What are the highest-performing campaigns?

You should be willing and open to learning, leaning into what works better and leaving behind what doesn’t. This opportunity is the best part of working with an agency — you can access their years of experience across various industries. They may not have the answer for your business growth from day one, but they should know what to test and trial to get you high-performing quickly.

#4: You don’t have the luxury to make a wrong move.

Do you have big goals and tight timelines?

aybe you can get there on your own — we’ve seen that happen.

But mostly, we see clients who don’t want to waste time, the risks are too high. They just want the peace of mind that email is developing as fast as effective as it can.

Whether it’s list growth, revenue or fixing deliverability issues, when there’s a tight timeline, you don’t have the flexibility to get it wrong. You understand the benefits that can come when email is a high performing channel and are willing to invest to get there.

That’s a good sign that you’re ready to work with an agency.

#5: You may have some expertise, but you’re inconsistent.

Everything you read about email marketing mentions consistency is critical. Having an excellent campaign once in a blue moon is not enough. It’s a relationship, and it takes time to build trust. You must consistently offer value to your customers to earn a spot in their inbox and win their hearts. It doesn’t mean you have to send an email a day — maybe it’s once a week or once a month — but it has to be consistent if you want to reap the benefits of email marketing.

Who’s sending campaigns during your busy season?

What about when you’re on vacation?

Or when other burning tasks come in that need your attention?

Hiring out to an agency is a guarantee that the ball won’t drop. You’re hiring an agency whose job is to plan, invest in cross-training in teams and provide coverage to keep the trains running on time.

#6: You don’t want to be the coordinator anymore.

There’s a team behind every email campaign, that’s for sure. But there’s also a lot of coordination and back and forth as development, design, operations, and reporting all have to be in sync for effective email marketing.

  • Is this the right image?
  • Are we using the latest pricing?
  • Did we have to change the messaging last minute?

Sharing information in real-time among roles is almost a full-time job in itself. If you’ve been doing email in-house with a “team” of experts, you know.

Often, our clients reach a point where they’re asking themselves: “This coordination is taking so much time. Is this the best use of my time?”. Often, that answer is no.

Our clients, especially business owners, often realize they’re ready to step out of the day to day so they can focus on other aspects of the business.

#7: Your business is getting more complex.

Maybe when you started you had a small list, and approached emailing like monthly news. But as your business grows you may have new products and services, new launches, new partnerships. Maybe new customer types, new markets, new ideas.

It’s one thing to pull a campaign together announcing something new. It’s another to incorporate updates in every customer touchpoint that you might have already existing.

Our clients are happy to lean on a team dedicated to email marketing, who knows their existing systems and messaging well and can handle complex updates. Often there’s new possibilities too when you have dedicated resources, like creating more customized and personalized messages or exploring new segmentation strategies.

#8: You are willing to try new things.

It’s hard to think outside the box when we’re in the day-to-day business. Some of the best, highest-performing campaigns we’ve done for clients are simple, outside-the-box ideas that other industries are doing. Because of our vantage point, we can easily take and apply winning ideas in new ways.

Working with an agency needs a willingness from the business owner to try new ways of working, new ideas, new strategies. Our clients who see the best results are open-minded and data-driven, and as an agency we’re constantly testing to see what’s resonating with your audience.

#9: You want to sell your business in 10 years.

Maybe you want to sell your business sometime down the line. You have read some entrepreneurial and startup journeys and know there’s value in building your own audience independent of algorithms. You may also know that email is not just about vanity metrics like “100,000 subscribers” (who may be cold and invalid emails if you look closely).

Our clients see the value of email and place importance on engagement metrics: where say a 60% Open Rate is a great goal for their email campaigns. When clients hire an agency, they’re often thinking big picture about how to future-proof their business because they realize it’s a smart move.

#10: Your Marketing Job Description Reads like a Unicorn.

Did you recently post for a marketing job that reads like you’re looking for a unicorn? That’s a telltale sign.

If you’re looking for someone who can:

  • Strategize
  • Implement
  • Design
  • Write
  • Develop
  • Report
  • Oh, and also write blogs and create social media?

We’ve got news for you: that person doesn’t exist. What you’re looking for is a team.

If you have a job posting like this and haven’t been able to fill it, then it’s time to think about working with an agency. We’ve had many clients come to us after realizing that “one person” to fill the role of an entire marketing team wasn’t realistic. Many found themselves compromising on their business goals entirely to adapt to the candidate they could find. When transitioning to the agency, we’ve had many clients report that they’re delighted with how quickly and swiftly the process goes, and how much hidden costs there are to recruiting, hiring, onboarding and then transitioning for over-ambitious marketing roles.

How to choose an agency

There may be a strong case for working with an agency, but that doesn’t mean every agency is right for every business. Here are some questions we recommend asking as you’re choosing an agency to support your email marketing initiatives:

  • What exactly is the scope of work?
  • How will you work with our existing teams?
  • What kind of communication can we expect?
  • How long does onboarding take?
  • What kind of reporting can we expect?
  • How can we ensure accountability in the role?
  • What is the feedback process like?
  • What happens when larger changes are needed?

Remember, the more you let an agency understand what’s going on in your business, the better chances you’ll have of getting excellent results. It’s a partnership, one best built on trust and with clear expectations, and it’s worth talking through how you’ll work together in the day-to-day to make sure it’s a good fit.

With our clients for example, we try to have regular touchpoints to learn about what’s new with their business, and there’s always an open line of communication for feedback.

Are you ready to take the next step?

If you’re interested in support to improve your email marketing, contact us. We’d be happy to see if we’re the right agency for you. Schedule a no-strings consultation today.



Sara Kappler

I run a CRM-Driven marketing agency. Mom of three. Flexible work advocate. Data nerd. Results-oriented.