How To Become an Email Marketing Specialist: Tips From Experts

Become an Email Marketing Specialist

We talked to two experts to understand how to become an email marketing specialist and to make your career path easier:

  • Anna Gelfand, Lifecycle Marketing Lead at Miro with 9+ years of experience
  • Scott Hardigree, email deliverability expert who started his career in early 1999

We combined classic email marketing and email deliverability experience and learned about the typical routine of email marketers, listed essential soft and hard skills, commented on myths about ‘special education’ (spoiler: there isn’t any), and gave priceless advice on how to start from scratch and to become a valuable expert.

Why choose email marketing

For the last 10 years, people have been saying, “Email marketing will die soon”. Haha! According to the State of Email Report made by Litmus in 2021, the importance of the profession increases from year to year. In 2022, 37% of companies plan to spend more money on this marketing channel. In the meantime, the Salary Data and Career research shows that email marketers are paid better than all other types of digital specialists.

Isn’t that a great motivation to start a career in email marketing?
Isn’t that a great motivation to start a career in email marketing?

Email marketing is outside of time and space. It’s never boring because it’s always vibrant. You create hypotheses, do research to find the best solutions, ask to make the uncertainty clear, connect to get bigger results together. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s harsh. But definitely worth trying.

Let’s dive deep into how an email marketer’s work routine looks like.

What do email marketing specialists actually do

Which day-to-day duties do you have?

Anna Gelfand
Anna Gelfand

Lifecycle Marketing Lead at Miro

In general, we are responsible for user’s activations, engagement rate, retention growth, product conversion. Also, email marketing specialists monitor how customers remain on new plans, churn rate, and the adoption of new features.

In the meantime, all teams want to send emails endlessly. Here we help them develop standards, set up a process. Plus, email marketers are responsible for the technical structure (deliverability, all data streams, email campaign analytics, performance, how emails work as leverage for business growth). In other words, we are the gatekeeper so that something bad does not go anywhere.

Scott Hardigree
Scott Hardigree

email deliverability expert

Primarily it’s everything around data analysis. Email deliverability experts analyze data from emails and landings or emails as landings. We precisely review mailboxes and spam folders (here we look at all technical information in an email). For example, we make sure that the header is set up properly and works as it should be.

Which about junior email marketing specialists? What is their routine?

Anna Gelfand
Anna Gelfand

Lifecycle Marketing Lead at Miro

As email marketing is teamwork, it involves analysts, designers, copywriters, a strategist who is an ideologist. So, newbies do everything connected with the life cycle of an email: how to build and design it, who to work with inside the team, who to send it to (segmentation basics).

If you were a newbie, I would ask you to prepare a monthly newsletter. First, we would brainstorm ideas about how we do it: what goals and hypotheses we have, how we want to satisfy both the business and our users, by what means do we achieve this, what we want to say and why, how everything would be measured. Second, the design stage comes: how we pack our idea into the final letter and how we send it.

Available career paths

How is it possible to transform from a junior to a senior level? 

Anna Gelfand
Anna Gelfand

Lifecycle Marketing Lead at Miro

I think that growth is always about how we make things more complicated. It’s when we take responsibility for a larger piece and when the amount of unknown increases.

The process usually looks like this. First, you do what your teammates tell you to do. Then you look for a solution to the little problem you were given. And finally, you become a person who sets himself a task within the framework of the strategy and company’s goals.

How it looks in life: in the beginning, we create an onboarding email chain. Then we do more research, use more data, and the design and logic become more florid. As a result, the message becomes more personalized. As you grow, you see more interconnections: how activation drives monetization, how communications are related, etc.

Scott Hardigree
Scott Hardigree

email deliverability expert

Typically email deliverability specialists start their careers in technical or customer support. If they can analyze data and make recommendations based on data they have all chances to easily rise in the field.

What’s the difference between a beginner and a passionate professional?

Scott Hardigree
Scott Hardigree

email deliverability expert

It’s empathy and business acumen. An experienced deliverability expert is able to see the problem from the sender’s perspective and as well as the mailbox providers’ or filters’ perspective. This approach helps to solve the sender’s business challenges.

The most successful people in our field really do care about customers. They always question: “Is this decision really solving a problem?”. They are always in touch with the client’s needs (on the phone, in Zoom, anywhere) and see how any actions positively or negatively impact the business. So, it’s more than just vision from a technical perspective. It’s always about keeping in mind the client’s business objectives.

Anna Gelfand
Anna Gelfand

Lifecycle Marketing Lead at Miro

The ability to do what you don’t know how to do and to learn how to do it well. Being a professional means being able to start from scratch without fear that you are zero at something. This is what helps to take life’s changes and market fluctuations. An important skill for a professional is to take ignorance as an advantage. Because if you don’t know something, you have the opportunity to learn it.

‘What makes you a professional is how your professional experience and skills today differ from those of yesterday’.

Is networking important for career growth?

Anna Gelfand
Anna Gelfand

Lifecycle Marketing Lead at Miro

Absolutely. In the beginning, you often seek internal expertise. When there is not enough information, you start reading literature, asking people from the industry who have already done what you want. Even in the senior position, you often have tasks that you have never faced in your life.

Let’s look at a real example when a company needs to send emails in 5 languages. ​​Or there’s a need to transfer to another mailing platform for the next 5 years. Surely someone from the industry already has this experience. You can find out how. This will save you from many mistakes in the next steps. We grow a lot by learning from others.

Scott Hardigree
Scott Hardigree

email deliverability expert

For an entry role, like analyst, it might be $50 000 – 60 000 per year. Strategists or consultants earn nearly $75 000 – 95 000 per year. For service managers who control the whole team, salaries vary from $100 000 – 140 000 per year.

Of course, the range may differ whether it’s a freelancer or an in-house employee. When you are a freelancer, your revenue is unlimited and depends on how much you can do. In the meantime, the highest ranges are for employees. Because they are very specialized and there are not many of them. That is why companies need them and are ready to pay good money.

How to become an email marketer: the must-have qualities and qualifications

Essential soft skills

Which are the most important?

Scott Hardigree
Scott Hardigree

email deliverability expert

Empathy is number one. It means that you put yourself into the client’s shoes and ask the question “If that was me, how would I feel?”.

There is a sense of urgency when it comes to email marketing. Customers rely on this tool to drive revenue. So, if you’re not hitting the inbox or your emails are missing, it’s an emergency situation. That is why it’s so important to be always in tune with the customer.

Another important skill is communication. Mostly we work with technical people. But business teams are different. Often, marketing and salespeople are also involved. So, the ability to speak with both sides is really huge.

Anna Gelfand
Anna Gelfand

Lifecycle Marketing Lead at Miro

These two skills are a must-have. 

  1. Project management. Email marketing implies working with a large number of contractors (both external and internal).
  2. Communication. It’s about the ability to work with a large number of stakeholders, to set expectations, to manage them, to defend priorities, etc.

Additionally, it would be cool to be able to manage creative processes. There’s no need to generate brilliant ideas. But it is very important to set clear tech requirements which lead to the final result.

Technical skills to get a hand of

What about them?

Scott Hardigree
Scott Hardigree

email deliverability expert

The most essential one is data analysis. Email deliverability experts have to apply all results they have. It means to always question yourself: “What is data telling me and what is my experience telling me?” This approach helps to predict the future.

Another hard skill we need is testing all assumptions and being process-oriented. Oh, we really do a lot of testing, including email a/b tests! Sometimes you take action and think that it’s going to fix the problem. Not a fact. So, you turn back and try another decision till it really works out.

To sum up, it’s important to have tolerance of failures and to test things that might not work. And also to stay curious and humble.

Anna Gelfand
Anna Gelfand

Lifecycle Marketing Lead at Miro

Analytics 100%. No, it’s not about SQL. It’s about the ability to ask the right questions to the data and to draw conclusions, see sequences, etc. Research is always the basis for hypotheses, decision-making processes, and a product that we provide to the end user.

Education and additional training

Is there a special degree or a course needed to become an email expert?

Anna Gelfand
Anna Gelfand

Lifecycle Marketing Lead at Miro

No. Education is always cool to have. But there are more crucial things that matter at work. Observation, critical thinking, common sense and a desire to learn from mistakes are much more important than the faculty you graduated from.

Scott Hardigree
Scott Hardigree

email deliverability expert

Also no (at least as for the US or Western Europe).

A lot of our experts have communications degrees. Some of them enter the field with technical background (e.g., experience in support service). It’s not necessarily about having a computer science degree but a technical mind.

Certifications for email marketing specialists

Do experts need those?

Anna Gelfand
Anna Gelfand

Lifecycle Marketing Lead at Miro

Again no. Any education is always great if you put knowledge into practice. A specialized course is a good start in the industry. This will give you an understanding of what you will encounter in your work. But no certification can guarantee what real experience does.

Scott Hardigree
Scott Hardigree

email deliverability expert

No. In some cases, experts have digital marketing certificates but there are none around our sphere. Actually, in the future, we are planning to launch an email deliverability certification class. It will be useful for those who want to enter the field or to learn more about how it works.

Tips on how to become an email marketing expert from scratch

What would you advise people who want to become valuable specialists?

Scott Hardigree
Scott Hardigree

email deliverability expert

Get started with any entry level role and you will rise to the highs of your abilities. Learn new and love solving problems, and this will take you to the top of the field (in salary as well).

And don’t forget to share your experience. True experts are always thought leaders: they present at conferences or webinars, have a podcast, or write content. It’s about introducing best practices to the community.

Anna Gelfand
Anna Gelfand

Lifecycle Marketing Lead at Miro

Search for companies that are not very well-developed in email marketing and work for them for free. Explain that you don’t know anything yet, but really want to try. And just dig in. In the first stage, experience is more important than money. Any investment in experience (portfolio, contacts, knowledge) pays off very much later.

Also, go for interviews and do test assignments. Don’t be afraid of the process, just try. Tasks that companies give to the candidates are usually connected with real problems. This is the practice that newbies need so much.

The ability to do what you do not know and learn to do it well is what will help you withstand any changes in the market and life in general. It is important to be able to start from scratch without fear that you do not know how to do something.

Tips from the Unisender team

We’ve decided to collect advice from our team to make a 360-degree career upgrade:

  • Understand How Email Marketing Works: learn the basics and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Start Building Your Email Marketing Skills: try all the information you obtain in practice, fail, and try again (that’s all part of the experience).
  • Learn How Digital Sales Funnels Work: that’s the core of email marketing.
  • Get A Hand Of The A/B Testing Process: remember? All hypotheses should be validated!
  • Perfect Your Copywriting Skills: it always comes in handy. Good text is a good chance to grab customers’ attention.
  • Study Some Case Studies: this is how you can learn from the experience of others to avoid the same mistakes.
  • Be Sure It’s Something You’re Interested In: passion changes everything. Even boring analytics and 79th hypothesis test attempt.

Where to look for jobs in email marketing

Wanna break into email marketing and find a dream job? Here are the best email marketing career related hubs to do that:

  • Email Marketing Careers — UniSender’s community where we manually pick fresh internships, part-time jobs, and positions for newbies. And give career tips, too;
  • Email Jobs — the largest job board dedicated to email marketing jobs;
  • Litmus Jobs — a community with email-specific jobs for marketers, designers, developers, and more;
  • Women of Email — a girl power community (in fact, it’s an official association) with a lot of posts with job opportunities, advice, and support. Girls only, sorry guys.

The bottom line

Congratulations! Now you know all the skills you need to master to become an email marketing specialist, which salary you can expect, and how you can grow from a newbie to a passionate expert. Time to find your dream job and practice!

Which skills are essential for email marketers according to you?

Answer in comments

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