How to Choose the Right Email Marketing Service Provider for Your Agency


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It’s 7:45 am Monday morning and you’re on your way to the office. As you wait for the bus, train, or sit at a red light in traffic you hesitantly open your email Inbox, holding your breath and half-dreading/half-giddily anticipating the onslaught of messages sure to be waiting your response.

Most of us spend a maximum 20 seconds scanning an email, that is if it makes it past our initial scrutiny of mail worth keeping, and hasn’t gotten lost in spam or junk folders. However, 57% of consumers say that they are more likely to purchase an item after receiving an email, and nearly 70% percent of consumers open emails from familiar brands whose products they already consume. If those numbers aren’t reason enough to convince our in-house publicist readers to adopt an email marketing provider, this post will!

Aside from being a profoundly effective technique to drive website traffic and sales, email marketing is one of the easier channels to measure ROI. Whether you are in charge of marketing, a designer who handles their own newsletter, or a publicist looking to provide some added value to a client, understanding how to increase newsletter sign-ups, open rates and drive clicks is powerful stuff.

First, you’ll need to identify which email marketing service is the best fit for your newsletter size, budget, and any customization or hand-coding you may need.

What to Look For From an Email Marketing Service Provider:

  1. High Deliverability: (i.e. the success rate at which an email marketer gets a campaign into subscribers’ inboxes). While this can be affected by bounce-back or spam concerns, ultimately senders also have a great deal of influence over the deliverability of their emails. The quality of the content you create in addition to a clean contact list will help dictate success. That’s why it is important to look for a provider that offers high-quality templates and designs in addition to comprehensive CRM tools.

  2. Aesthetically appealing templates: the provider should offer a variety to choose from, that is if you are not comfortable creating the code for your own from scratch. (Kudos if you can!)

  3. Easy uploading of graphics and customization tools: whether its product images, blog post images, a header or something you’ve created in photoshop.

  4. Easy-to-understand analytics and reporting: look for options that will help you track campaign responses and share reports with your team/clients.

  5. Integration: both with customer relationship management (CRM) applications (i.e. Eventbrite, PayPal, Salesforce, etc.) and social media networks.

Email Marketing Standouts:


One of the most popular email marketing services on the internet, Mailchimp is particularly well-known as one of the more user-friendly, design-oriented services. Great news for those of us who are more aesthetically inclined than tech-savvy

To see the service in action, check out Mailchimp’s “Inspiration Page for examples from JoieIndependent Fashion Bloggers and Pose. In case you are curious, PR Couture uses Mailchimp too (you are signed up, right?).

Great for: With Mailchimp, you can create multiple mailing lists and segment your lists to target specific groups of clients with a newsletter or campaign. This will come in handy as you move towards sending a greater variety of content, and ensure that you’re always sending information that is relevant and helpful to individual clients.

Mailchimp also integrates with a number of third-party services that will ultimately save you time by completing multiple tasks within the MailChimp platform. Share your MailChimp creations on Facebook and Twitter, along with an easy sign-up form for your those interested in joining your subscriber list. Looking to coordinate and promote tickets for a client’s upcoming trunk show or a party at your agency? Manage ticket sales, payment, and registration with popular services like Eventbrite or PayPal. You can design a customizable form to send to the desired contact list, or use the service to embed one on your website.

For those of you creating content for a brand or agency, the RSS-to-email option will automatically send out your newsletter when you update your blog. Or, if your agency prefers to work from WordPress, you can also set up a MailChimp plug-in that will place a signup form for your MailChimp subscriber list on your WordPress blog.

It’s hard to improve upon a good thing, but just this past month Mailchimp released a revamped version of its services offering an array of new features for better integration with specifically mobile devices. Create, send, or check the progress of your email campaigns even when you’re  you’re calling on a client. Who knows, the MailChimp analytics available on your mobile device from a recent client satisfaction survey you sent subscribers could just be the final push you need to win that new client!

Standout Features:

  • Drag and drop content interface

  • Tons of templates to choose from

  • Segment within your list for hyper-targeted messaging

  • Tutorials make it easy get started, and the monkey humor doesn’t hurt

Con: Knowing where to start (creating a list or a campaign) can initially be a bit confusing. So although it might not be clear from the site, in order to create a campaign you must first create a list. From there you can let your creative juices flow creating your campaign or newsletter from a template or scratch.


  • 0 – 2,000 subscribers with 12,000 email/month: FREE! A great option for agencies still testing the waters when it comes to using email marketing.

  • 1,001-2,000 : $30/ month with unlimited emails to 25,001-50,000: $240/month, unlimited

Constant Contact

Similar to Mailchimp, Constant Contact lets you design professional emails in less time, with customized templates and drag and drag and drop editing.

Great For: Constant Contact primarily functions best as a tool for online surveys and event marketing that allows you to promote your events, collect registration forms, and track RSVP’s, attendees, and payment. Customize your invitation with a brand or agency logo, depending upon who you are creating the invite for.  You can also gage the interest of your subscribers with the ability to track who opens your email and accepts/denies your invitations.

Surveys like the ones you can create with Constant Contact are a great tool for in-house publicists looking to get specific feedback from their clients. Whether you’re looking to measure overall client satisfaction with your services or get feedback from a client on a specific campaign you ran for them, Constant Contact can help you create a survey to include in an email or one to embed on your website. Check out Modcloth’s survey (#6) and some other brands’ approaches.

Standout Features:

  • Share surveys and event promotions through social media, not just email

  • Find the best subject line with spam testing solutions

Con: Less visually appealing than Mailchimp, perhaps a necessary sacrifice for the event management capabilities, but still user-friendly.


  • Free 60 day trial for up to 100 contacts

  • 2,501-5,000 subscribers: $50/month to 5,001-10,000: $75/month

Campaign Monitor

For agencies that love analytics, Campaign Monitor is the most in-depth option available. Campaign Monitor’s automatic A/B Testing also offers more options than Mailchimp’s headline-only test.

Campaign Monitor also offers a unique set of features for creative agencies to better manage a longer list of clients. Clients can create their own emails based on templates you help them design. If you’re creating the campaign for them from start to finish and wish to charge them for this work, set the price you charge clients above the Campaign Monitor base price. Campaign Monitor will then send this profit to you via PayPal.

Standout Features:

  • Worldview analytics feature

  • Analytics integration with Salesforce

Con: This is one option where technical experience might be useful. The templates are coded and optimized for Campaign Monitor, but first need to be downloaded and imported into your account. For less-experienced users, this could present some delays and roadblocks.


  • $9/month for 0-500 contacts and a limited number of emails to $699/month for 25,001-50,000 contacts, unlimited emails

Want to check out some additional providers? JangoMail; Infusionsoft; Campaigner; VerticalReposnse, AWeber.

There are many great providers out there, most offering deliverability stats close to 98%. Ultimately, your choice should come down to the provider that you’re most confident will help you create effective emails without sacrificing efficiency. Our advice? Take advantage of the free trials many of these providers offer and see which appeals to you and makes sense for your agency.

What do you use to manage email marketing at your agency?

Photo Credit: sparkieblues

For more information about how Tribe Dynamics helps PR professionals manage and monitor influencer outreach, take advantage of this exclusive offer for PR Couture readers.

Christina Goswiller

Christina Goswiller

LA native Christina Goswiller traded palm trees for the Stanford tree, where she studied political science and graduated with honors in 2012. Since her move to San Francisco, she has fallen in love with the entrepreneurial spirit of the startup world. Christina is particularly interested in the growing importance of technology within the fashion industry, which she follow through her work with Tribe Dynamics.