What to Ask During a 1-Year Renewal Meeting With an Email Marketing Agency

Melanie Balke
July 26, 2022

You’ve found your ideal marketing agency, you’ve worked alongside them for 365 days, and things seem to be going great! Now, you’re opening up your dashboard to find that your membership expires today! The wonderful partnership is ending, and that dreaded renewal reminder email is looming over your head.

You have so many questions to ask, but you’ve never dealt with something like this before! There’s a lot of complexity involved in renewing your contract with a content marketing agency, which can cause an equally astronomical amount of anxiety.

I’m here to help with that.

I sat down with my team of email strategists, and I’ve asked them what the best questions are for you to ask to make sure you can easily renew your partnership. If your deal with a marketing agency is reaching its expiration date, then this is the place for you! Join me, and let’s explore some of the best ways to optimize your next renewal meeting…!

A photo of downtown Los Angeles. Overlaid text reads, “What to Ask During a Renewal Meeting With an Email Marketing Agency.”

Now, if you’ve decided to investigate the renewal process, I think it’s fair to say that you’ve found a good digital marketing agency. You’ve seen results, and you’re at the stage where you’re ready to seek feedback and investigate all the benefits of continuing to work with your chosen digital marketing agency.

It’s time to get up close and personal with your marketing strategy and your business. It’s time to find out how to generate more sales and reach even members of your target audience.

The First Subject Line: The Present

When you’re dealing with a content marketing deal, think of it as fortune telling. You’re hoping to use the clues around you to understand how the future might play out, and you’ll need your digital marketing agency’s help to do this.

A black-and-white photo of a crystal ball with overlaid text: “The First Subject Line: The Present.”

First, you’ll want to address the present. These questions will help you determine factors such as:

  • Current ability to retain customers
  • Current customer relationships
  • Effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns
  • Identifying target customers
  • Performance of current marketing automation campaigns
  • Possible weak points in your email campaigns
  • Potential reach for your marketing efforts
  • Sales funnel efficiency
  • Overall impact of your marketing on your ecommerce business
  • Strength of customer loyalty
  • What kind of strategy is the best for your brand

Now, I’m not saying to break out the crystal balls! Instead, I want you to break out all your data. Hopefully, your email marketing agency has been providing you with immediate access to plenty of data, — namely, you’ll be looking at your KPIs — and you want to bring it with you to the meeting. Review it, too, before you show up, because the questions you’ll be asking will depend upon your ability to properly analyze the situation.

Has Your Team Created Any New Email Campaigns?

You always want to start with personal questions.

These questions will help you determine whether or not those renewal emails that you’ve been getting are worth the cost. After all, marketing services aren’t exactly cheap. You want to make sure that you’re getting the most from your digital marketing team.

A colorized photo of technical drawing tools with overlaid text. The header reads, “What to Ask: Has Your Team Created Any New Campaigns?” Beneath this is the first paragraph: “To gauge how well your email marketing team is meeting your expectations, you want to ask them about the past year of work.” The next paragraph reads, “Remember to keep your expectations within reasons. Cheaper plans don’t always cover full strategy goals.”

Asking this question is all about determining enthusiasm. It isn’t exactly a bad thing if they answer “no”, — that, after all, is a great example of honesty! — but you want them to be in line with your expectations.

For example, let’s say that you’ve spent a few thousand dollars this year on digital marketing. That’s a fair chunk of change, and you’re probably expecting to hear that your team has whipped up some fantastic new ideas for marketing automation. In this situation, hearing otherwise is a good reason to back out of a renewal.

On the other hand, a brand that pays a few hundred for some new email templates probably expects to hear that the team isn’t investing too much time in developing new drip campaign plans.

As is true with every other question on this list, it’s all about context and individual expectations.

Have You Seen Any Significant Improvements?

Now, as an email marketer, I’ll admit that we love to brag about our accomplishments. When one of our automated email campaigns nets a huge amount of new customers or online store orders, we will tell you about it. In fact, we’ll probably send you a pretty flash email about it!

Keep those emails, because you’ll want them on hand as you talk to your content marketing team. That renewal email is your agency’s way of reminding you that your annual subscription is running low, and it’s time to chat with them.

This question is going to be a little bit like opening a huge can of very, very excited worms, but it’s important to know which email campaign yielded the biggest ROI.

A colorized photo of some plans. The overlaid header reads, “What to Ask: Have You Seen Any Significant Improvements?” Beneath this is text: “When you ask about the improvement that your marketing team has seen, pay particular attention to the metrics that they bring up. Some of the most important areas of improvement include: click-through rates, click-to-open rates, conversion rates, and returning customers.”

Depending on which marketing team you choose, this information might be included in your yearly report. If so, there’s no need to reiterate the information. However, if you still have questions about how these individual messages impact your broader campaigns, don’t be afraid to speak up!

Think of it this way: an email marketing team is similar to subscription based services. You’re paying these folks for additional services, and you want to make sure that your brand or ecommerce store is getting the most out of its investment. The yearly meeting is a bit like meeting with a service’s membership renewals team, and the strategists you speak to are there to help you amplify your email marketing strategy.

How Is My Brand’s Email Strategy Evolving?

You may have all your data available, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Unless you’re maintaining near-constant contact with your email marketing team, you won’t know what the strategy meetings look like. At most, you may see the end results — the emails that encourage customers to do x, y, or z — but you will rarely get to access the brainstorming behind the marketing magic.

A shareable graphic with a colorized photo of many test tubes. The overlaid header reads, “What to Ask: How Is My Brand’s Marketing Strategy Evolving?” Beneath this is smaller text: “When you ask this question, you want your marketing agency to tell you how they create campaigns. Some of the answers you’ll want to see include: A/B testing, CTA optimization, encouraging shares/forwarding, and interactive email development.”

When you ask this question, you’re not really looking for something in a financial sense. Instead, you want to see how their approach aligns with your vision. Ideally, they should drop a few references to A/B testing and call-to-action tweaks.

There isn’t necessarily a “wrong” answer to this question! However, if your marketing team is hesitant to answer your inquiry, you may want to think about your decision to renew early (or at all). Of course, we need to have our secrets, but a brand should be able to give you a basic overview of the planning process.

The Second Subject Line: The Future

Once you’ve figured out where you are now, it’s time to use your data as a crystal ball. These questions will focus on how your email marketing team plans on growing and expanding alongside you. Think of this as the time you spend thinking about something after a trial period. This is where you’re envisioning your future, and all of the email campaigns — from welcome emails and user generated content to abandoned cart campaigns — that you’ve seen are leading up to this.

A black-and-white photo of tarot cards with overlaid text: “The Second Subject Line: The Future.”

This will be the bulk of your meeting’s educational content. Here, you’ll be gathering information on things like pricing, target audience, future customers, and — if things go really well — an automatic renewal option.

How Has Your Business Grown?

This may seem like a matter of courtesy, but asking your email marketing agency how much it has grown is a great way to predict whether or not you’ll be seeing a price increase.

A shareable graphic with a colorized photo of many fortunes and well-wishes. The overlaid header reads, “What to Ask: How Has Your Business Grown?” Beneath this is more overlaid text: “Asking about your marketing firm’s business growth is more than a nice gesture! Businesses tend to increase their prices as they grow larger. This is actually a sneaky way to see if you’re about to see a price increase.”

How so? Well, it’s a bit like this: the bigger a company gets, the more people it needs to hire. All of these extra employees add up, and they’ll need to be compensated fairly. To balance these expenses out, many digital marketing agencies — both specialized groups and full-service operations — will often price up their prices.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if you find an agency that is perfect for you and your business needs, then it may be worth the higher bill. This is a matter that I can’t solve for you; it’s your job to evaluate your saved data and determine whether or not the results outweigh the additional fees.

What Does Next Year’s Strategy Look Like?

The minute you get that membership renewal letter, it’s a sign that your marketing agency of choice is still interested in supporting your email marketing campaigns. Before your renewal date expires, you need to determine exactly how interested your email marketing team is in your patronage.

Ask your email strategist about what their plans are for your brand’s future. By now, you have the data. You know the results of the past year of marketing automation and email marketing campaigns. Now, it’s time to see how well your marketers know about it.

A shareable graphic with a colorized image of Los Angeles, where The Email Marketers is located. The overlaid heading says, “What to Ask: What Does Next Year’s Strategy Look Like?” Beneath this is smaller text: “You want a marketing team that is prepared and confident. Never settle! If your strategist doesn’t have a plan for next year, then it’s time to look for a new agency.”

You are existing customers with your marketing agency. As such, you deserve appropriate respect. If the agency wants to retain customers like you, then they will be pushed by a sense of urgency to create campaign plans in advance.

If your marketing agency does not or cannot answer this question, then it’s time to start searching for another! A lack of foresight is not a desirable quality for marketing agencies to have. This may be a huge bummer, but there are ways to make the search for a new marketing team easier.

What Improvements Can Be Made to Boost My Business?

Now that you’ve (hopefully) established that your marketing team is paying attention to your business, it’s time to dive into the analytics. Ask your strategist what their recommendations are for the coming year.

There are a few ways to phrase this question. You can ask them about improvements, or you can ask them something like:

  • Are there any changes being made to my email marketing next year?
  • Do you have any plans for retaining customers?
  • Have you noticed any urgent weaknesses in the current email marketing campaigns?
  • How do you think my marketing strategy will evolve next year?

Now, here's the catch with this question…

If you’re not a big data person, then it might be a bit difficult to understand how the suggestions that your strategist provides will help you reach your target audience.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your first year with a new marketing agency is a trial period, and it’s your right to check, double-check, and triple check that you’re completely satisfied with the agency’s work before you authorize any sort of recurring payments.

A shareable graphic with a colorized photo of Los Angeles. The overlaid header says, “What to Ask: What Improvements Can Be Made to Boost my Business?” Beneath this is smaller body text: “Turn the tables and give your marketing agency a renewal reminder! When you ask this question, you’re looking for signs that your agency is paying attention to you and your business’ marketing.”

While I sincerely hope that you have full trust in your marketing team, I know that isn’t an entirely reasonable expectation. If you want to guarantee that you’re sending relevant messages to customers, then it’s worth your time to talk to a a few people within the agency. Ask them for their opinions. Not everyone will have the same answer, and that’s okay! Your goal isn’t to predict the future or get a concrete plan; it’s to make sure that your team is paying attention to your email marketing.

The Third Subject Line: The Payment Details

If you’ve been following along with this little guide, then you’ve already gathered a lot of information. Now, as we go through more metaphorical subject lines, it’s time to address the elephant in the room: the price.

A photo of downtown Los Angeles, where The Email Marketers is located, with overlaid text: “The Third Subject: The Payment Details.”

Regardless of how your email marketing campaigns have been performing, it won’t matter if you can’t afford to pay for your strategy! Before you click that renewal URL or sign a check, you need to figure out what your price will be.

These questions are particularly important, so pay close attention!

Will My Price Be Changing?

Here’s the obvious question, and you need to ask it upfront! Will the price of your email marketing plan be changing? This is an absolutely essential question, and you need to ask it at some point after you get that renewal reminder email.

A colorized photo of downtown Los Angeles with overlaid text. The heading says, “What to Ask: Will My Price Be Changing?” Beneath this is smaller text: “Don’t beat around the bush! You need to ask this question. Be upfront, and just ask this question in a straightforward and honest way.”

Let’s face it. Not every email marketing agency is entirely honest. While I pride myself in transparent pricing and affordable marketing automation services, not every agency is the same.

Some will offer lower prices for first time subscribers and then up the price after your “trial period” of one year. Other agencies might have different prices based on tiers, and they’ll slap you with a “pro account expires” message, which informs you that you will be losing some crucial features if you fail to renew your plan.

Now, neither of these practices are necessarily bad. They’re a bit dishonest, but you may ultimately decide that the content marketing you receive is worth the white lie. This is your choice to make, and I can’t tell you what to do. In fact, there are very few hard rules that distinguish a subpar email marketing agency from a truly spectacular one.

(There are, however, some definitive characteristics that will mark an agency as particularly skilled. I’ll get to those in a minute!)

Will I Retain All the Benefits From My Current Plan?

Once you’ve figured out if your plan’s price is changing, it’s time to decide what your plan will include. In most cases, you should keep the services that you had before. However, some subscription-based services lock certain features behind higher paywalls. Again, this isn’t necessarily bad; it’s just something else to think about.

Questions for Amazing Email Marketing Agencies

At this point, we’ve reached the end of our list.

A black-and-white photo of someone taking a test. Overlaid text reads, “Questions for Amazing Email Marketing Agencies.”

You’ve asked all of the really important things, and it’s time to make your final deal. Whatever you choose to do, it’s time to answer that renewal email.

Will you be looking for another agency? Are you thinking about enrolling in an automatic renewal option? These questions are for you to answer, and — without knowing all the details — I can’t tell you which option will make your email campaign shine.

I can, however, wrap up this article with some questions to ask if you’re feeling particularly daring. These inquiries aren’t necessarily essential, but they’re useful ways to engage with your agency and ascertain how deep the partnership will be. As your renewal date looms near, consider asking these questions.

Ask About Anything That Isn’t Email Marketing

I know this isn’t a specific question, but this suggestion is so vast that including every possible iteration would make this post too long!

A colorized photo of a chess board with overlaid text. The heading says, “What to Ask: Ask About Something That Isn’t Email Marketing.” Beneath this is smaller body text: “This question isn’t necessarily required, but it’s worth considering. If you’re looking for a true strategic partner, then you’ll definitely want to ask this question!”

When you ask about things that aren’t part of your email marketing campaigns, you’re fishing for signs of a strategic partner. If the agency can’t answer these questions, it isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. It’s just a sign that the agency either didn’t see any issues or isn’t interested in a deeper strategic relationship.

Is that good? Is it bad? I can’t say! It’s up to you to decide what kind of relationship you want to have with your email marketing team. Some brands are content with a hands-off relationship. These brands may already have teams to handle their internal affairs and landing page construction. If, however, you want a true strategic partner, then pay special attention to how your strategist answers this question.

What Are Some Examples of Non-Email Marketing Questions?

Some examples of non-marketing-automation-related questions that you can ask your agency are:

  • Have you noticed anything that might hurt my standing with search engines?
  • How are existing customers interacting with my website?
  • How can I remind customers of my brand’s mission?
  • How does my website appear on mobile devices? Have you noticed any problems?
  • How effective is my sales funnel?
  • How safe is my saved data?
  • Is there a target audience that I may be missing?
  • What other marketing channels could I use to generate more sales?

Keep in mind that there’s no hard limit on how many questions you can ask your email marketing agency.

In fact, as long as there’s plenty of time left before your renewal date, you can keep asking questions! More questions means more information, and knowing all of the details of a deal is essential to running a successful business.

How Can I Make the Process Easier for You?

Now, this is a question that you should save until after (or just before) you answer that renewal email. Nonetheless, it’s a good question to ask if you’re fairly certain that you’ll be renewing your partnership!

Aside from being a polite inquiry, — one that demonstrates your willingness to be an accommodating and enthusiastic client, no less! — this question is a good way to get a quick peek at the internal workings of your agency.

Maybe they’d like more photos to use in email templates, or they may be searching for ways to remind customers of new products. Regardless of how they answer, take note! The information you gain from this question may just be the secret to truly amplifying your email marketing campaigns.

The Conclusion: An Amazing Business Relationship!

At the end of the renewal process, the end result should always be the same. You should find yourself in the middle of a lucrative and amicable business relationship, and you should be able to gain immediate access to the tools that will amplify your efforts.

I know this was a lot of information, but all of it is important! Business is all about learning, and I love to offer up tips and tricks. If you’re looking for even more information about the amazing world of email marketing, then be sure to drop by my blog to see more guides and tips.

I’m also available personally! If you’re looking for an amazing email marketing team to help your business thrive, then get in touch with me, and we’ll see what we can do together!