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How to start an email marketing agency from scratch

How I started an email marketing company with my partner Chris and grew it to 7 figures

We were already sending email campaigns, setting up flow automations and driving revenue with Klaviyo for my ecommerce Brand BombTech Golf. I never expected to start an email marketing company with my employee Chris (who was running all my email marketing campaigns). It wasn't until Klaviyo, Bigcommerce, Entrepreneur magazine, and a few other media outlets started featuring my brand as successful and showed a case study on our marketing efforts and success.

Potential customers started reaching out for help to grow their eCommerce store

At first, I didn't know what to say. I was flattered, but I was way too busy to help small businesses like myself grow their email list and their revenue from email. That was until Chris said he wanted to do it. I knew he was an expert at all the technical aspects of sending emails that would drive revenue and engagement.

I told Chris, I would support him however I could as he landed and started working with 3 email clients. I told him he could do it on the side to start as long as it didn't impact his day job at my company! The results after the first month were amazing, he was able to act as a full-service email marketing agency and provide great results through strategy and sending emails customers want to read and take action from.

The best results come from an effective email marketing strategy (not just blasting promotional emails)

Our true advantage was the fact that Chris knew exactly what an ecommerce founder is going through on a day-to-day basis. He and I worked so closely and it gave him such a great perspective on how he could help other ecommerce brands. Just because you run a digital agency, doesn't mean you know what an ecommerce founder truly needs help with.

Business growth came from word of mouth and case studies, growing a digital marketing agency of any kind is difficult. The sheer amount of competition is staggering. The barrier to entry to starting an email marketing business is low, but that doesn't mean it's easy to provide great results for your clients.

Being an email marketing expert takes real-world experience and understanding of how to manage the entire email marketing funnel, overall business strategy, and email marketing plan. This way you are sending the right email at the right time for your clients.

The best email marketing services send emails that have a high open rate, but even higher conversion rates. Aside from results from clients, when you are first starting.

So how do you grow it from you an email marketing consultant to one of the best email marketing agencies?

Word of mouth and referrals are great, but you are going to need a sustainable way to grow your client roster if you want to scale it beyond a freelance gig. We have tried many social media marketing campaigns, such as Facebook and Google but the ROI wasn't high enough to make it a core part of our growth plan. The ideal company we want to work with is very specific and those ads were too broad and couldn't be precise enough to be profitable.

Cold email and outreach can be effective

As an ecommerce owner myself, I am bombarded with sales pitches. It is so easy to ignore cold emails unless they are value first. Chris was an expert and actually provided value to our potential customers by sending actionable insights and tips for clients. They didn't even need to be a client or pay us for this value he was providing.

In addition, we would provide detailed Loom videos to clients we really thought would be a good fit and would be fun to work with. You could even go as far as putting together a series of emails for them at no cost. Which could be risky, but value first is a good way to get started with outreach.

You can try a lot of marketing channels if you have an offer that your potential clients will jump at. Without an offer and value it is really hard to make any marking effective.

Be a real expert, before you try to help a client

This seems like a no brainer, but I would never try to help a client with their marketing emails unless I was a true expert. Put in the reps and start an online store yourself or like Chris, get a job at an ecommerce brand managing their email. If you quit, the company may not be to happy though!

Keep it simple to scale your agency

Decide what email marketing software you want to partner with and stick with them. I believe that the simpler the better and we only offer one email service provider that we will manage. I know other email marketing companies don't do that and that is ok for them. But to keep our business lean, streamlined, and scalable we like to simplify everything we can.

Building a service-based business is hard work (there are no shortcuts)

Once you have landed a few clients and driven results, it's time to build your client base. Some of our clients have been with us for nearly 4 years! Talk about an awesome customer base.

Keeping clients on retainer is the best way to able to go after new customers and be more stable. If you have a high churn rate, it is really difficult to keep closing new business if your clients are unhappy and leave. Like any small business, an email marketing agency can take a long time to grow. Anything worth doing will take time effort and some growing pains.

Define your email programs

It is difficult to do this from day one, but as your client roster grows and your team members you will need to have well-defined email programs. You should optimize the deliverables for the best results and also make it repeatable in the back end for your team.

Not being crystal clear how exactly what you will do for your client is asking for trouble. Be clear when you close your client and tell them in great detail what they should expect, what a successful email campaign should look like, the number of emails that will be made, and when the deliverables need to be submitted.

Let me know in the comments below if you are going to start an email marketing agency or another business altogether!

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