We know several things really well in the email marketing space. It is a challenge to train and grow people into this role. Given the short tenure of an email marketing manager (two to three years), it's not surprising that this role is hard to staff and hard to retain; it's difficult to keep savvy marketers in that role. I've always considered it to be a burn-out job in some ways: rapid turnarounds, the constant pressure of deadlines, no forgiveness for mistakes; and a need for high ROI with minimal respect for what actually goes into managing the channel well.
Email is not the coolest channel in the marketing kit. It needs a PR agent. It's in every strategy in some form, but as I've said many times, email is managed in a vacuum in some respects. Since everyone has a personal mindset about email (we all get it and we all send it), it's often underappreciated, So, how do you motivate and grow an organization to be really good at it?
I wrote an article over a year ago on a similar thread, which I felt was important enough to revisit. But I don't want to write about how to staff the role or a tongue-in-cheek view of the role, but how you can support the growth of this role so it's not a burn-out.
Marketing organizations, write this down: Develop a career path for your email group, even if it's only made up of two people.
Don't expect them to immediately understand operational marketing, much less operational email marketing. There is a lot to learn, a lot to fail at, and it's difficult to think ahead when you are trying to QC 40 versions of an email and making sure all the links and typography match approved specs.
Making email a career path will force you to isolate the skills being acquired and put a premium on specialized and managerial skills. It also helps you recognize that by throwing someone into the pool, you won't develop a butterfly specialist, a backstroke specialist or even a good swim team.
In email there are several hierarchies to learning the trade (and I'm oversimplifying intentionally):
What goes into the email? (content formation),
How does it go out and did it get there?(delivery)
The List and who we should and are we sending to? (segmentation, communication strategy)
We sent it, now what did we really accomplish? (Measurement, Optimization)
What happens when we mix other channels? (Stacking Effect - direct mail, social, retail)
Career paths aren't just about the skills, they are about providing real paths so people can develop in an organization. Paths can have several different focuses: specialist roles that are technology- and operations-driven, market managers that aspire to be intimate with the business and market dynamics, channel experts that focus and integrate emerging channels. The choices are broader than you think, even if you have a small department.