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The Hidden Costs of Building Emails—And How to Beat Them

Have you ever considered what the REAL cost of that marketing email is? From agency fees to developer hours to every little line item in between, we uncover the hidden costs behind you email creation process.

Ever wonder how much it costs to produce an email?

The truth is, most companies never put a dollar figure on the process. Though many reports claim email has the best ROI, how do you know this is true if you never measure the *actual* cost?

You may know the salary of employees dedicated to email marketing or the amount you pay an agency to do the job, but there are hidden costs that may be bigger than you realize. If you understand the true cost of email creation, that means you plan better, calculate ROI more accurately, and can effectively allocate resources.

Whether you use an agency or do it all in-house, we’ve put together some of the hidden costs of email creation:

1. Agency email creation costs add up

Many companies outsource email creation to agencies and only consider the cost of their contract, their monthly or yearly retainer, or cost per email. But while your agency manages your creation, who’s going to manage your agency?

Even full-service email creation still requires in-house manpower to manage the agency work. Someone on your marketing team has to meet with the agency to discuss strategy, communicate needs, and provide feedback and revisions for each email.

Oftentimes, multiple people need to review emails before they’re distributed—so even if one person is designated to handle the agency, other people are part of the review process. That means their work hours are added costs to what you’re paying the agency.

Or if you use an agency just for creating email templates, you’ll need an employee to update those templates for rendering purposes, and developers will also have to change the templates for A/B testing.

Besides manpower costs, there are time issues. Agencies often have pre-negotiated turnaround times. If you need them to produce an email quickly because of changing business needs or a current event, an agency will either charge a rush fee, or you’ll miss out on a business opportunity because they couldn’t do a quick turnaround.

2. In-house production takes more hours than you realize

If you’re creating emails in-house, you know the obvious cost of sustaining a dedicated marketing team. But what about the time each person spends producing just one email? The hours can really add up.

The typical email creation process involves a marketer, copywriter, designer, and developer, and includes steps for content writing, designing, coding, QA, revisions, link tracking, rendering updates, comments and approvals.

The more complex your email—with elements such as responsive design, video, multiple links, and segmentation—the more time it’ll take to create. Sending one email can take up to 10 hours of work time and 2-6 weeks of creation time.

So when you’re figuring out the true ROI of your email campaigns, consider the time it’s taking to create them.

3. Sneaky, high-level factors that contribute to costs

Regardless if you have an experienced marketing team or an agency creating emails, mistakes will happen in the QA process—whether it’s a broken link, brand compliance issue, or a design not optimized for mobile. You may not see the cost of these errors directly, but they chip away at your profits as you lose customers or your brand takes a hit.

Organizations that operate in a distributed marketing environment also incur hidden costs. Because they distribute content across multiple markets and in different languages, quality assurance is even more critical and requires more people and man hours.

Legal and compliance issues can also contribute to costs. If an email doesn’t comply with industry regulations—especially in sectors such as finance and insurance—or other countries’ laws, your company may be fined. You could also have a legal expert review email drafts, but that’s another additional fee.

Email is an effective marketing method, but if you don’t know the true cost of creation, you’re probably leaking money through process inefficiencies. Examine the cost of email creation, find ways to streamline production and you’ll be well on your way to boosting your ROI on every email.

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