By Jeff Haws
There’s a lot of advice out there about email marketing: how to write a subject line, how to include images, and pretty much every other facet of executing a successful email marketing plan.
Let’s shift the focus to email marketers, because you matter. A lot.
As with email marketing campaigns and technologies themselves, there are great marketers, not so great marketers, and everything in between. To become an email marketing superstar, you need to excel in a combination of skills or traits.
While there is always room for variability and discussion, there are five core areas where the best email marketers excel. Some marketing professionals have two or three of these skills, but it’s not until you develop the complete set that you become an all-star. While some people have a natural predisposition to some of these areas, you can absolutely develop them if you don’t.
Skills to Succeed as an Email Marketer
Marketing is an inherently creative field and email is no exception. In fact, it’s especially critical with email because customers receive so many messages.
The best email marketers are always coming up with a new way to get their message across, a new way to approach customers – to surprise and delight. Clients respond to inventive and innovative pitches and campaigns. Ordinary doesn’t cut it; you need to keep things fresh and new all the time.
Creativity can also take many forms. It’s not just a clever twist or a cool new campaign idea (although it could be either). It’s also how you leverage technology and data in new and imaginative ways.
This is another marketing mainstay with a specific iteration for email. Writing sales and marketing emails is a special mix of art at the front and science (in the form of data, testing, and so on) at the back.
Unlike some other written forms, there are no rules for email per se. We generally know that an email should be short. We know it takes a subject line and some other common components. But that’s about it in terms of defined structure.
Today’s best email copywriters also recognize that “writing” might as well include language broader than words. Sure, the words count – as data-driven marketers know, a single word can make a difference. But these days, your vocabulary can include things like emojis, memes, and other elements beyond the traditional written word.
If you want to be a great email marketer, you definitely need to know how to run a good test, analyze the results and act on them.
Anything less than an enthusiastic embrace of testing is, well, less than. Testing is how you balance the creative side of marketing and copywriting with the business reality. It’s also how you remove subjectivity and quantify the tactical choices you make in an email campaign.
If you ask 10 different people to write a subject line for the same email, they will likely produce 10 different subject lines – and they will all have a reason why they think theirs is good. By testing, you determine which ones actually have the greatest impact, from open rates to click-throughs to conversions.
Testing is also a cumulative skill and knowledge base. Over time, your tests will yield more and more data and you will begin to delve into what works and what your customers are responding to.
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4. Empathy and Awareness
Empathy for other people is a hugely important quality for email marketers – if you can’t understand and feel others, you can’t communicate with them effectively.
Empathy should also be accompanied by a strong knowledge and awareness of what is happening in the rest of the world, even if at first glance it may seem irrelevant to your particular business or industry. We regularly see companies and brands that seem out of touch, or even insensitive, when they send emails without thinking about the impact of certain issues or events on their audience.
The best email marketers ask questions like: How will this big event impact our customers’ everyday lives, and should we change the way we communicate with them?
This also relies on a relentless effort to get to know and understand your customers and who they really are. That way you can make sure you’re relevant without being pushy or insensitive.
Email marketing never stops, especially in e-commerce or any other B2C context. It’s a continuously running calendar with important dates and associated deadlines, and it’s challenging to manage all of this.
Email marketing superstars are rising to that challenge, defying the stereotype of the creative professional who can never quite organize.
Whether it’s a sale or Black Friday – or any other event-driven campaign – you need to be able to make your mark on the calendar as the emails need to get out the door on time and into your customers’ inboxes to have a chance of making an impact .
Become an email marketing superstar
You can definitely learn and build the skills on this list over time. Do that and you’ll become your organization’s indispensable email superstar.
About the author
Jeff Haws is a storyteller at MessageGears driven by the challenge of executing content projects that are authentically useful. Whether it’s feature articles, white papers, webinars, research, one-sheeters, or blog posts, Jeff loves finding new ways to use top and middle funnel content to drive leads and sales.