What Do You Mean, 'Email Marketers Need Not Apply'?

It seems as if the marketing world has a new slogan. Once upon a time it was “email is dead,” but most have come around to believe that email definitely has a place within the marketing construct. But the new slogan seems to indicate that email marketers are a dying breed -- at least when it comes to a marketing organization’s need for them.

Instead of damning the channel, marketers are now rallying against the specialists that build and execute email programs themselves. An article entitled “Email Marketers Need Not Apply” cites statistics from a Forrester study that claims only 6% of respondents deem email a desirable skill when hiring staff.

As you can imagine, having spent the better part of 15-plus years living and breathing the world of email marketing, I approached the article with a fair amount of skepticism. The article says the market is swinging to an increased demand for generalists; we don’t need specialists in marketing channel applications. To that I say: “Malarkey!”



Part of the problem I find in this stance is that the perception of an email marketer as a channel specialist may be a little misguided. Over the course of many years, email marketers have had to hone their skills at marrying technology with marketing strategies -- skills, oddly enough, that align very closely with the definition of a modern marketer.

According to the article, a modern marketer is “someone who knows how to use technology to learn about their customers, apply those learnings to create personalized conversations and content, and execute programs that measure their effectiveness in doing so.” Don’t we do that daily anyway? Let’s examine how we, as email marketers, position our skills to be more relevant in the day of the modern marketer.

Let’s examine how email marketers’ skills align with the top three marketing skills in demand.

Brand management. Partnering with and enhancing the brand is a daily task for email marketers. Every email touch has an impact on brand perception and ultimately carries a profound impression. While most email marketers have not ultimately maintained direct responsibility for managing the brand inside of an organization, every single email specialist I have ever worked with is an advocate for doing what’s best for brand marketing efforts and positioning -- sometimes, even more so than the brand managers inside their organization.

Strategic planning. While email planning inside many organizations comes at the end of the development process, some of the best multichannel strategists I have ever worked with are email experts.

That being said, just because someone is an expert in email doesn’t mean that’s where her knowledge starts and stops. Email marketers are constantly thinking about the strategic application of the channel and how it complements and/or impacts other channels the brand leverages.

The mental shift needs to happen outside of the email team, where other areas of marketing recognize the value their email team can bring to the conversation. Email marketers can strategically marry goals and objectives with technologies available to them for execution. They can measure that success and do it all over again.

Data analysis. At the very heart of email success is a firm understanding and application of data. Not just email response data, but customer data -- and all the analysis that goes with it. Email marketers, much like direct mailers, are committed to a fundamental understanding of the outcomes for their marketing efforts. Lending insights and asking questions is core to the recommendations made for the next campaign, target audience or new program opportunity.

My recommendation for finding yourself a solid “modern marketer” is to look to your email experts  -- or encourage application from those who have a strong email or digital marketing background, as these are the folks that can meet your needs today -- across channels. Don’t sell talent short simply because they are email experts.

1 comment about "What Do You Mean, 'Email Marketers Need Not Apply'?".
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  1. Chad White from Litmus, December 2, 2014 at 10:19 a.m.

    Omni-channel skills are important, but so are deep channel skills. While consumers are increasingly cross-channel and have high expectations for a seamless experience with a brand, digital marketing channels are simultaneously becoming more complex. A team composed solely of generalists is doomed to struggle.

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