A colleague on an email discussion group posed a version of this question recently: "Who is responsible for educating email marketers?"
Is it their email service providers (ESPs)?
Many ESPs provide vast educational resources such as Webinars, white papers, studies, client conferences, newsletters, tools and FAQs.
MediaPost and other
publishers host email conferences and enable knowledge exchange through columns like this. Industry groups like the DMA's Email Experience Council and the Online Marketing Summit and countless
blogs, communities and even Twitter generate more educational content.
The information is there for the taking; ultimately, it's up to individual marketers and their managers to seek it
The more knowledgeable marketers are about the specialized approaches required for success in email marketing, the better for their company and the industry as a whole.
Here's my list of essential areas that email marketers need to grasp in order to run successful programs:1. Email strategy.
Successful email marketing is based on a
sound marketing strategy that helps achieve business goals. Know how to create an email marketing plan and program that maximize the channel's capabilities while achieving lifetime customer value,
revenue, profit margin, retention and other goals.2. List-building/acquisition.
Key aspects of list-building expertise include list rental, POP displays, co-registration,
Web site, landing page and form optimization and more. Some of these activities are unique to email and others not. Regardless, the marketer that can build a growing, high-quality list that produces
will have a distinct advantage over competitors.3. Email design.
Email's design requirements differ greatly from those for print and the Web. Marketers don't need
to be email design experts, but their designer/programmers or agencies must master email HTML coding, rendering issues, mobile design challenges and content-based spam filters. Make sure whoever
produces your emails is an expert in email design and learn what questions to ask.4. Deliverability.
As the sender, you control almost all of the factors that affect your
deliverability: authentication, list hygiene, frequency, relevance, content filtering and adherence to ISP email practices.
As a marketer, you must understand the basics in all of these
areas (except frequency and relevance, where you should be an expert). Rely on your IT department, delivery specialists at your ESP or outside delivery consultants for more technical aspects of
As I've written before,
email is not electronic direct mail. In general, email copy is designed to make someone click a link.
People writing for email must understand the ins and outs of subject lines, content and
human filters, the impact of preview panes and blocked images and the need for scannable copy. The best training for effective email copy: develop a voracious appetite to read others' emails and
test, test and test your own copy to see what works best.6. Database marketing.
Sound database marketing skills are at the heart of email success. Marketers must
understand how to use customer data (both explicit and implicit), conduct RFM analysis, create relevant segments and use personalization to drive relevance and conversion.
includes understanding the principles of testing, response models and integrating email with other channels such as direct mail and social media. Database marketing is probably the key area on which
to focus your knowledge-building efforts. 7. Legal issues.
Do you know and understand your country's laws regulating commercial email? Marketers who send to U.S.-based
customers must master the nuances of the CAN-SPAM Act
. If you market internationally, you need to know which countries
require double opt-in, and any data privacy issues that may affect you. Tap into your company's legal resources for expert help.8. Email trends and best practices.
Email is a dynamic channel. Spam filter technologies and email client rendering are changing constantly. Consumer email use is evolving with social media, networks, communities and blogs.
Today's inbox is different from 2008 and will change again in 2010.
To keep up with the changes, scour your ESP's resource library and newsletters, attend conferences and
workshops, and dedicate yourself to continual improvement.
Did I overlook some skills you consider essential for today's successful email marketer? I welcome your comments.
Until next time, take it up a notch!