You know email marketing is really effective but you aren’t doing it consistently because it takes time and ‘mental bandwidth’ that you just don’t have. It makes sense to outsource your email marketing and free up your time. But how do you choose a freelancer who will bring you a return on your investment without accidentally deleting half your mailing list, breaking the law or getting your email marketing account shut down? (Yes, all of that can really happen. What a nightmare!) Here’s what to look for in an email marketing freelancer from the UK…
Someone who is an expert on the email service provider (ESP) you use?
Actually, not necessarily. There are some differences between email service providers, but if you’ve seen a few you can easily pick up a new one. (If we’re talking about a more complex marketing automation system such as Infusionsoft, then you’re more likely to need a specialist.) Working with someone who knows a few different systems can be an advantage, for example if there’s an ESP that’s a better fit for your business than the one you currently use they will be able to help you weigh up the pros and cons of moving.
Someone who is an expert in setting up MailChimp isn’t necessarily good at writing an email that will sell, so be clear about exactly what you need.
Someone who isn’t an old-fashioned email blaster
If you subscribe to other people’s email marketing lists you’d be forgiven for thinking that the aim is to send as many emails as possible! In fact, the goal is to send emails that are opened, read and clicked on. To do this, the email marketing freelancer needs to understand your audience then craft subject lines and content to engage them. This isn’t a one-off exercise either, the freelancer needs to watch the open and click rates, then aim to improve them over time. Also, they need to send different emails to different segments of your mailing list, as not everyone will have the same needs and interests.
As you can see, this is a very different approach to just firing off an update of what’s been happening in your business in the last month. It’s a lot more effective, too.
Someone who refuses to do things that risk getting you shut down
There’s a lot you can get wrong with email marketing! I’m regularly approached on LinkedIn by people who want to sell me mailing lists, for example. This is a big nope on several levels. First, it breaks GDPR rules because it’s highly unlikely the list members have given their consent to be on your list. Second, the ESPs see it as spammy and their terms and conditions don’t allow it – try it and your account could be shut down. And third, the list subscribers will probably see you as a spammer and either ignore you or report you.
In the Facebook groups I belong to it’s quite common to see a virtual assistant (VA) asking for advice on whether they should collect email address beginning with ‘info@’ and ‘office@’ from websites and add them to a MailChimp mailing list. It appears that their clients often request this, but it’s a really bad idea. Why? Well, this type of non-personal email tends to be for an inbox that is looked after by a number of people, so the chances are they won’t be all that interested in what you’ve sent them – in other words it’s not targeted enough. Also, these types of email address are typically freely available on websites and get a lot of spam anyway, so your email is likely to be ignored. For these reasons, ESPs don’t like this type of address because they tend to generate a lot of spam complaints. So if you try to import a whole list of ‘role based’ email addresses you may raise some flags with your ESP.
Make sure you work with an email marketing freelancer who has a good working knowledge of good practice in email marketing and what’s best avoided.
Someone who understands the implications of GDPR
Here’s where the UK part of this post comes in! The GDPR regulations that came in in 2018 apply if you’re handing data from anyone in the European Union, so in theory every email marketer in the world with EU subscribers should adhere to them. But in my experience many people outside the UK simply aren’t doing this. I’ve seen plenty of USA based online business coaches teaching email marketing techniques that are not legal if you have subscribers in the EU, so you have to be cautious even if all you do is buy an online marketing course.
Make sure any email marketing freelancer you work with is aware of the implications that GDPR has for your email marketing campaigns.
Someone who takes precautions
Accidents do happen, so make sure you back up regularly. Naturally this includes your mailing list, but your freelancer may also be logging onto your website to set up landing pages so make sure that’s backed up, too. In fact it’s a great sign if your freelancer asks if you have backups in place before you give them access to your ESP or website.
Always back up your data, whatever it is and wherever it may be.
Look for someone who wants to talk goals and strategy. What exactly do you want to achieve with your email marketing (ie including numbers)? How will you measure your progress? How do your email marketing goals align with the wider goals of your business? This will make the difference between sending out marketing emails because it sounds like a good thing to do, and getting a return on the time and money you invest in your email marketing strategy.
So, there’s a lot more to choosing an email marketing freelancer than their ability to use your email marketing tool of choice. But if you are careful in choosing a freelancer they could make a huge difference to your business, especially in terms of sales. And who doesn’t want more sales, eh? Good luck!
If you’d like a chat about hiring a freelancer to do your email marketing, please do drop me a message here.
If you’d like 9 fill-in-the blank templates for your own email marketing, you can download those here.