DMA Email Council: Advice to Further a Career in Email Marketing
15 Jan 2021
A career in email marketing is something that many of us find ourselves falling in to rather than specifically choosing as a career path. According to the 2020 Only Influencers Special Report: Email Industry Career Journeys and Resources, 78.7% of respondents said that email chose them and 49.1% didn’t start their career directly in marketing or deliverability, but instead elsewhere in companies and were then drawn to email.
For those of us who have made it here, we know that it is an incredibly supportive industry and filled with an abundance of knowledge and resources from many different sources.
The same report from Only Influencers showed the different sources available and how effective they are; leading the pack in effectiveness are blog posts/reading, statistics, and conferences. Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram were ranked some of the least effective.
But according to the DMA Marketer Tracker 2020 report, a lack of skills is a key challenge for organisations when it comes to email marketing:
So, who better to ask for their advice on advancing your career and skills in email marketing than our very own panel of experts from the DMA’s Email Council? Here’s what they had to say:
Antony Humphreys, Email Product Owner, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
Having only ever sent a small number of email campaigns, I fell into email marketing properly when I took a job at Oxford based Adestra (now Upland Adestra); an email service provider with its own proprietary platform MessageFocus.
6 years on I am the Email Product Owner at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) where I have the ambition to develop our email communication to offer a truly 1:1 digital communication experience.
How did I get from sending a few drag and drop campaigns to heading up, the most powerful digital communication channel for one of the UKs most prestigious charities? Passion. Purely passion, a passion that drew me in deeper, beyond just the content and data. I took time to understand the whole process from sign-up to inbox asking questions such as how does that email end up in the inbox?
That meant going beyond the platform instruction manual, I had to take a dive in to psychology of subscribers, I spent a lot of time understanding deliverability looking at why some campaigns deliver and other disappear in to a black hole.
Some called me sad, many took the proverbial, but my passion for GDPR and PECR also stood me in great stead and enabled me to help clients through the potential melee of May 25th 2018 and beyond.
And a key aspect to my personal development was being invited to join the DMA’s Email Council and privacy working groups. There is nothing better than working alongside industry peers, sharing, and collaborating to develop guidance and best practice – all based on our collective experience.
Nadja von Massow, Executive Director, Nadworks
Although I come from the digital creative side, I always worked in small enough agencies to benefit from experiencing the truly integrated nature of email Marketing.
Collaboration with the entire palette of touchpoints, skills, and expertise such as data management and analytics, email technology, marketing platform development and the wider creative process, gave me a holistic view of the eCRM landscape and set me up to venture into planning and strategy.
One thing I would have done differently, knowing what I know now, is to have insisted on closer client collaboration earlier on in my career. I felt that clients who are interested in the power of email marketing, brought on board right from the start, who get educated in form of workshops and frequent transparent status meetings, are more likely to become email advocates in their own organisations.
We eventually realised that taking clients on the journey and sharing the passion for our work as much as we did for their brand would have given email the stage it deserves.
Nowadays, I never work with blueprints and instead apply a very agnostic and transparent method when I work on email centred campaigns. I avoid terms like “best practice” and “future proof” (neither exist). I always focus on the audience, not the brand. And I openly share thoughts, concerns and ideas as honestly as possible with my clients to enable a more informed decision-making process.
Guy Hanson, Vice President, Customer Engagement (International), Validity Inc.
Email has always been highly rated for its measurability, and with most sending platforms providing conversion tracking reporting, putting a £-value against your efforts is relatively easy.
That’s good news because, in the UK, the average ROI from an email program is £35 for every £1 spent. We also know that email is roughly 1.5X more effective than combined other marketing spend when it comes to delivering sales revenue. And it’s 3.5x more cost-effective than paid search/display/social in delivering traffic to retail websites. This data provides a great starting point for conversations aimed at securing more budget, especially when you then use your own program’s performance data to reinforce the principle.
Beyond this, there are two key areas I recommend focussing on:
Knowledge is power
Email marketing is such a fast-moving industry, and the most successful practitioners are highly intentional about staying on top of new developments. But where to start?
Obviously, the DMA/IDM is a good place to start, with loads of content crafted by industry experts, and great courses.
Sign up with some of the well-known ESPs (Emarsys, DotDigital, Pure360), tech vendors (Validity, Litmus, Phrasee, Movable Ink, Taxi for Email), and agencies/consultancies (e-Focus Marketing, Let’s Talk Strategy, Twist Consulting).
Industry groups like Email Geeks, Only Influencers, and Women of Email are also excellent ways of keeping up, and members are always willing to respond to each other’s questions.
Harness your suppliers to make you look great
Your suppliers have a vested interest in your success rate – if you’re shooting the lights out, you’re far more likely to spend your budget with them than if you’re just scraping along.
So, when they suggest collaborating on a case study, say “Sure” and then let them do the heavy lifting – they’ll usually have the data and the story-telling skills to a great job, and it’s in their interests to do so. When you have the finished document, definitively proving how smart you were to engage with ‘XYZ’ supplier, and how much money you’ve made for your company by doing so, you can then go marching into your boss’s office with a rock-solid rationale for that increase/promotion/both you know you’re worth.
Komal Helyer, VP Marketing, Pure360 and Chair DMA Email Marketing Council
Too often a career in email is one that is happened upon by chance. However, for many, once they start, they may never leave – switching their career in email between agency, brand, and vendor. This is because once you truly understand email’s value in the marketing mix you may never look back.
As a global industry we must do more to educate and build awareness of the varied, exciting, and impactful world of email marketing.
The path is varied in the career of an email marketer and it can take all sorts of different routes from technical, to creative to strategic. My advice to someone who is either starting or a few years in, is to discover what your long-term vision is and find a mentor to help you on that journey. We are lucky to have many people in the industry willing and happy to help others to success.
Kate Barrett, Founder, e-Focus Marketing
My advice is to always keep learning and improving your skills – it’s important to keep developing your knowledge, in both email marketing and other surrounding topics to help you understand elements from a different point of view.
For example, although not directly email marketing, learning about the psychology of a buyer is of enormous value to your strategy and how you implement it.
To keep learning, there are two main things I prioritise:
Courses, conferences, webinars, books
There is a wealth of amazing free and paid resources out there to help you learn more about specific topics. You can also speak to your company about funding courses that you want to go on – build your case around how the learnings from the course will benefit the business.
Test, test, and test again
Learn from what’s working in your business, but remember this may not translate to other businesses and audiences, so never assume something will automatically work! Keep testing different things and see what works and what doesn’t.
Make sure you develop clear hypotheses for each test so that you can understand what your testing, why and what you expect the results to be.
eFocus Marketing has a handy split test kit available for free here to get you started.