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The 5 Essential Skills of an
Effective Email Marketer

Essential Marketing Skills You Need

For years now, digital marketing has been the preferred method used by businesses to reach their customers. And as the COVID-19 pandemic put limitations on opportunities for in-person marketing tactics, that trend has only solidified. At this point, it's not a stretch to say that digital marketing skills are a prerequisite for running a successful business.

But not all digital marketing skills are created equal. Depending on the digital channels a business intends to use, they will need a different set of skills and expertise to do it. For example, a social media marketer has a vastly different skill set to an SEO expert. So, what's a business to do?

The answer is to begin by building the right skills in the aspect of digital marketing with the highest ROI. And that's email marketing. Despite the rise of social media and other digital channels of late, email still drives the highest returns, delivering an estimated $42 worth of effects for every marketing dollar spent.

But it takes a specific set of skills to deliver such high returns. And to help businesses get up to speed, here are the five essential skills needed to operate an effective email marketing campaign.

HTML, CSS, and Web Design Skills

In the early days of email marketing, it was possible to get away with sending text-only messages while still getting results. Those days are long gone. Consumers today face a barrage of emails daily and have a limited amount of time and attention to give each one. That means email marketers have to know how to craft captivating emails that will grab consumer attention in a hurry.

The best way for them to do that is to have a solid background in web design. Emails are now akin to mini-websites; so their designers need to know how web programming languages like HTML and CSS come together to create an appealing visual presentation. It also helps for them to have a solid understanding of current marketing email design best practices.

Analytics and Data Skills

One of the reasons that email marketing has such a high ROI is that it allows for constant refinement and iteration. A single email campaign might go through multiple evolutions to arrive at the most effective version of its messaging. But that can't happen if the marketer running the campaign doesn't know how to track and measure its performance.

This means having a solid understanding of common analytics platforms like Google Analytics. And it also means having the skills to design and operate A/B and multivariate testing to get the best possible performance out of each new email and campaign. And beyond those, the marketer should also have the skills to collect and measure the data needed to determine:

  • Open rates
  • Click rates
  • Unsubscribe rates
  • Conversion rates

Automation Skills

Email marketing has always been efficient because a single marketer could reach millions of potential customers at once. The main limiting factor has always been the ability to keep up with the message frequency needed to get results. But today, email marketers can turn to various automation systems to overcome that obstacle.

That's why email marketers need to develop the skills necessary to deploy, configure, and use automation solutions if they want to succeed. And they also need to understand the concepts that make automation such a game-changer for email marketing. These include:

  • Audience segmentation
  • Workflow design
  • Data-driven personalization

By combining those concepts with the right automation approach, a single email marketer can manage countless campaigns at once. And each one will be more effective than any non-automated campaign ever could be.



Copywriting Skills

In essence, marketing is the practice of using messaging to convince potential customers to give you their business. And that means the message itself is the most important aspect of any marketing campaign. So, when it comes to email marketing, copywriting is key.

It's an essential set of skills that email marketers must master so they'll know how to craft the right messaging to support campaigns. They must learn how to be an effective storyteller and have the language mastery of a novelist. Together, those skills make it possible for them to create effective campaigns that include:

  • Compelling calls-to-action
  • Engaging brand stories
  • Irresistible subject lines

Technology Skills

Unlike most other digital marketing channels, email marketing also requires an understanding of the underlying technologies that make it work. This is because email marketing only works if the messages you send arrive in the inboxes of those you send them to. And that's by no means a sure thing.

Email providers today employ a phalanx of tools and technologies to combat spam, which makes deliverability a major issue for email marketers. There are countless reasons that a marketing email may not get delivered – and low delivery rates can destroy an otherwise viable and effective campaign.

That's why an effective email marketer has to have the skills needed to understand how email systems work, troubleshoot deliverability issues, and design campaigns that don't run afoul of anti-spam rules. This means learning how content quality factors into spam scoring, how to include and manage a proper opt-out system in every email, and how to make sure their company's sending domain follows proper anti-spam conventions.

Comprehending it all requires an analytical mind and a certain amount of technical ability that doesn't come naturally to every marketer. And although there are third-party email marketing platforms and email management tools that can handle some of the behind-the-scenes heavy-lifting surrounding deliverability, there's no substitute for the marketer knowing how email systems work.


The Bottom Line

As digital marketing continues to increase in importance, businesses have a bottom-line need to bring the right skills in-house to execute their strategies. And there's no better place for them to start than with email marketing. It's a tried-and-true marketing method with the best ROI going. And the five skills covered here will cover the most critical aspects of creating and managing high-performance email campaigns.

But they're still just a starting point. Because despite being one of the oldest types of digital marketing, email marketing continues to evolve all the time. And that means there's always going to be new skills that email marketers will need to stay effective. And as they build those skills, they'll unlock even better ROI and real-world results that no business can afford to miss out on.


About the Author


Philip Piletic closely follows the impact of technology on education, and its evolution from traditional to modern methods that include e-learning, courses, gamification, and others. He has also helped the Sydney-based IT & Business school in developing their IT courses.

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