Since its inception in the late 90s and early 2000s, email marketing has evolved in both strategy and technology. In the early stages, most companies leveraged email marketing at a simple level — pumping out business newsletters. Some outliers, many B2C retailers, identified the opportunity with email marketing early, crafting specific messages to general audiences. Email marketing was viewed as a nonessential marketing channel that could help an organization reach its online audiences, but it wasn’t seen as a revenue-driving channel.
Today, email marketing teams work with multiple teams across the organization — from marketing, IT and operations to e-commerce, social media, the web team, and more. Depending on the size of the organization, email teams might be 1 or 2 people or much larger. Typically, the folks responsible are cross-functional teams with specific areas of expertise. Team members handle the entire process from start to finish — like a well-oiled machine. Additionally, vice presidents and chief marketing officers across industries recognize email as one of the most lucrative online channels they have and will typically be involved in the strategy and execution. Truthfully, a successful brand — one that knows how to win — stays in tune with email.
A Day in the Life of an Email Marketer
An email marketer’s day is focused on two important areas: strategy and data. Email marketers must be able to bring together a series of objectives into one concise call to action. Starting with the business goal — a click-through, an RSVP, a trial sign-up, or a subscription renewal, for instance — the email marketer spends her day looking at the various data components available to identify the best targeted audience to map to the content and call to action. In the old days (10+ years ago), a static version of an email went out to all subscribers. Today, email marketers can power one-to-one personalized messages with variable content (both text and images) to really communicate with their recipient. Email marketers must be comfortable in all areas — overall strategy, creative ideas, content, data analysis, audience segmentation and targeting, and reporting analysis.
The remainder of an email marketer’s day will vary based on the current timeline and cadence of internal teams. The status of creative assets and the availability of datasets play into the ebb and flow of the workday. When all resources are finally available and compiled, marketers must ensure that the overarching message is aligned with other communications, promotions, and internal initiatives. The tempo is set — now, it’s about execution. At this point, the marketer can begin tracking various campaigns, reviewing the backside after emails have been sent, analyzing tracking and trends, and searching for fresh opportunities to improve existing programs.
Effective email marketers may collaborate with channels like social-media, loyalty, or even e-commerce programs. This is due in part to their knowledge and mastery of the entire customer lifecycle. These folks are true email experts who help identify the right time and right content to send to the right person along that customer journey. Their experiences enable them to carve out niches for not only email, but also social-media content, push notifications, SMS, and even direct mail.
The Future of Email Marketing
Despite what the industry may believe, email marketing is here to stay but will continue to evolve. Email is often an organization’s most profitable digital-marketing channel — and it will continue to be, as email marketers evolve with the behaviors of their customers. Email marketing is susceptible to how Internet service providers (ISPs) and email clients (like Gmail and Yahoo!) handle email. The way a person consumes an email is largely driven by their email clients’ user interfaces, their smartphones, and their choice of operating systems. To this point, as the ISPs change technology; and as iPhones, Androids, and Google Pixel phones evolve; the way we interact with email will also change.
Within five years, you’ll be able to complete many calls to action from inside emails, saving you from clicking through to a landing page or opening the mobile app. Additionally, algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) will deliver hyperpersonalized experiences through email and other channels. As your devices, browsers, clients, and cookies feed into AI; algorithms will deliver emails to you at the precise moment you need or want that communication. And, geofencing and iBeacons are just now being adopted more widely and will push marketers to have content ready for the very moment a customer is in their midst.
Having a strong foundation in email will prepare your organization for the next big thing — whatever that may be. In the past, it was simple for marketers to make the leap from email marketing to personal verifications or text messages; but now, as email becomes more prominent and synchronized, it’s important for email marketers to know how to craft their messages and recognize how they sync up with customer lifecycles. Analysis is necessary, and creativity is paramount.
A successful marketer knows that effective campaigns — ones that drive engagement — have strong foundations built upon data, speak to customer journeys, and are delivered with eloquence and timely precision. They achieve business goals while operating on fluctuating timetables. An email marketer is a visionary, a scientist, and an artist. His or her role is beneficial, the tasks dynamic, and the days bustling. Email marketers have truly demanding jobs — as well as their work cut out for them.