Tough questions to ask to ensure you are working with the right vendor or consultant.
Whether you use an e-mail-focused agency, an e-mail service provider, or leverage in-house technology and services, it's now time to make big plans for 2011. With big plans, come tough questions, and very few successful e-mail programs don't have at least one key partner. That partner may be a data specialist, offer technology solutions, design and code e-mails, or offer full service e-mail marketing.
Chances are, most are not delivering everything you need. Some may be mostly absent except during billing time and others may be your eyes and ears in the e-mail minefield. However, they are working for you. So now is as good a time as any to probe deep and find out if this will be a lasting relationship.
Here are 17 questions that look back and ahead to ask your e-mail partner to maximize your relationship and ensure they are the right partner or solution for your unique needs.
- What do you do exactly for us each month and why shouldn't I try that in-house or look for another vendor?
- What are the best five strategic improvements you suggested or assisted us with this year?
- What are the best five tactical enhancements that you implemented for us?
- How can our e-mail program deliver more value to our customers?
- How can our e-mail program deliver more revenue to our company?
- How will you help achieve both of these for us in 2011? Be specific, please.
- What are you doing for me besides pressing the send button or providing a button for us to press?
- Should I send more or less e-mails? Why?
- What does your full service offering really look like and entail?
- Am I paying more for technology or services? Should I do more or less for both?
- Why haven't I heard from you that much, given all of the deliverability and inbox type changes (e.g., Gmail's Priority Inbox, etc.) in the e-mail world?
- Who should design my e-mails? How about coding? Should it be my ad agency, Web shop, or you? Why?
- What are you doing to differentiate our e-mail program from competitors and make us stand out in a crowded inbox?
- Who on my account team is proactively looking out for pitfalls and coming to the table with campaign concepts and strategic insight?
- How well does my account team know my business and the e-mail world?
- If the CEO calls, how quickly can we get an important e-mail out the door - from concept to deployment?
- Tell me some success stories where you have done something innovative or special for a client?
Next column, we will look at 15 more questions to ask your e-mail partner.
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Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America's leading email marketing-focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing and digital messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs, and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Phillips66, Porsche, and Southern Company. The agency was recently ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine.
Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.
Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing (published by Pearson's Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top 21 information sources for email marketers.
He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine, and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences.
Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of EmailStatCenter.com and SocialStatCenter.com, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave Marketing, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.
Jenkins serves on the eMarketing Association's Board of Advisors among other civic and professional boards. He is also a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.
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