Every day you receive dozens of emails from companies you’ve purchased from or expressed interest in.
Each one of those was designed and sent by an email marketing specialist.
Responsible primarily for nurturing customer relationships and improving engagement with email content, this is a crucial role that requires specific expertise.
In this article, we’ll discuss what an email marketing specialist does, what results they bring to the table and how to become one for those interested in carving out a career in email marketing.
What is an email marketing specialist?
An email marketing specialist is a digital marketer with specific expertise in building and growing email lists, crafting and distributing email content, nurturing leads and maximizing email engagement throughout the customer journey.
The specific tasks an email marketer is responsible for will vary by company. Larger organizations may have specialized designers who oversee email formatting, layout and UX design elements.
However, email marketing specialists are broadly responsible for improving engagement with marketing emails (promotional emails, lead nurture campaigns, newsletters, etc.).
They track key metrics like email open and click-through rates and work closely with other marketing team members (such as a marketing manager, copywriter or design lead) to influence these results.
What does an email marketing specialist do?
In smaller organizations, email marketer responsibilities tend to be more diverse. They’re responsible for a range of email marketing aspects, including copywriting, design and list management.
At enterprise-level companies, email marketers may be more specialized. They work closely with writers, graphic designers and other subject experts, allowing them to focus on campaign performance and email automation workflows.
Designing and managing email marketing campaigns
Email marketers focus on the success of email campaigns (a sequence of marketing emails sent to a list of recipients).
As an email marketing specialist, you’re responsible for designing and implementing campaigns to influence a specific goal.
For instance, an email marketer at a B2B SaaS company might create an onboarding sequence where new users receive a welcome email series introducing them to the platform and helping them to get the most out of the product.
Writing and proofreading email copy
Copy (the words used in marketing materials) is the backbone of email marketing.
Copywriting for emails is a niche skill. You’ve got a message to communicate and you need to do so as concisely as possible, as shorter emails (between 50 and 125 words) tend to perform better.
However, you have a second goal: persuading the reader to take action. This might be to browse your newly arrived products, sign up for a webinar or convert to a paid user.
Email marketing specialists must pay careful attention to writing basics (grammar and spelling), as well as word choice.
Optimizing email sends for mobile-friendliness
Today, 42% of emails are opened on a mobile device.
So, a major responsibility for email marketing professionals is ensuring their communications appear as expected on both desktop and mobile devices.
This involves careful attention to design elements, ensuring text and images are scalable and crafting pre-header text (the copy that shows up under the email subject line) to appear cleanly.
Managing, compiling and purging email lists
Ensuring email deliverability is an important task for email marketing specialists. List management is a key component of this.
One of the goals of your email marketing strategy is likely to be to grow your email list, but in some cases, removing recipients is a necessary process (for instance, when you receive bounced emails or unsubscribes).
Collaborating with writers, designers and marketing managers
As an email marketing specialist, you may need to work closely with content marketing experts or digital marketing specialists in design, copywriting and data security, making collaboration crucial.
These may be in-house employees, or a freelancer that assists with these kinds of marketing efforts, so communication skills and the ability to collaborate effectively will be important for this role.
Measuring and reporting on email campaign effectiveness
Each of your initiatives will have a specific goal. It might be to influence engagement metrics like open, click-through and conversion rates to improve lead generation or retention of existing customers.
In any case, you’ll be responsible for tracking email marketing metrics and reporting results to your direct report (e.g. a digital marketing manager).
Segmenting email lists to optimize campaign performance
Many organizations have more than one target audience.
As your email list grows, you’ll want to communicate with each differently (some email content will only be relevant to certain subscribers).
Audience segmentation involves identifying what differentiates audience members, storing this data in your email marketing platform and sending segment-specific emails to maximize engagement and email performance.
Managing email automation workflows
Email marketers send thousands of emails each week, so it’s unrealistic to manually send each email.
You’ll use pre-designed email templates, connect your email automation platform with your CRM and develop (and continuously tweak) automated sequences.
Optimizing the email sign-up and opt-in process
You want to make it easy for new customers to sign up for your email newsletter, but you also want to capture as much data as possible to help with segmentation and lead generation.
Part of the email marketing specialist’s role, then, is optimizing the sign-up process to find the ideal balance between these two requirements.
Gathering and reporting on audience insights
How your audience engages with your email marketing efforts gives you insight into how different segments perform, where customers are in the buyer’s journey and which demographics are most likely to convert.
You can then share this data with other experts (like SEO and social media marketing team members) to inform targeting and new client acquisition.
What results do email marketing specialists bring to the table?
Email marketers bring specialized skills to the marketing team. If you’re considering a career in email marketing, here’s what you’ll need to know.
Knowledge of key metrics and measurements
The primary goal of an email marketer is to improve engagement with marketing efforts. Depending on your more specific organizational goals, you’ll measure this success in different ways.
Email marketers will need to be familiar with the following email marketing metrics:
Open rate. The percentage of recipients who open a given email.
Click-through rate. The percentage of recipients who click a link in an email.
Spam complaint rate. The percentage of recipients who mark your email as spam.
Unsubscribe rate. The percentage of recipients who unsubscribe from communications following an email.
Conversion rate. The percentage of recipients who take a desired action (e.g. downloading a guide).
Deliverability rate. The percentage of emails you send that make it through to recipients’ inboxes.
Revenue per subscriber. The amount of revenue your company makes for each subscriber on your email list.
Experience with email marketing software platforms
Email marketing specialists aren’t using consumer tools like Gmail and Yahoo. To send large-scale marketing campaigns, you’ll need to be familiar with email marketing and automation platforms.
Specifically, you’ll need to be familiar with using such tools to:
Copywriting and messaging experience
The best email marketing specialists are those who understand how to write concisely, convey a message and choose the perfect word to motivate and incentivize readers to take action.
More than that, they’re skilled at A/B testing different types of copy and then analyzing results to inform future email creation.
Even if you have a dedicated writer on your team, some experience with messaging and copywriting will be helpful here.
A skillset in email data analysis
Email marketing is a discipline that requires both creative and logical thinking. Creative muscles will be flexed when designing graphic elements or tweaking copy, but the best email marketers are those who can also work well with numbers.
Let’s say, for instance, you’d like to understand whether a recipient’s engagement with email content can be used to predict the likelihood of conversion.
You’ll need to analyze:
What engagement metrics are important
Who in your email list has converted to a paid customer
How they’ve engaged with marketing emails in the past
Then, you’ll need to design experiments to test your theory and analyze those results to confirm.
Knowledge of anti-spam and data collection legislation
Email marketers are bound by several data security laws, most notably GDPR (a European data protection regulation).
The tools you use to store customer information should provide some protection here (for example, data encryption), but to ensure your company remains compliant with all legislation, email marketing specialists must stay up to date with the latest changes.
Some design knowledge
The amount of design expertise and experience you’ll need will depend on your specific role and the make-up of your team.
In smaller organizations, email marketing specialists tend to be responsible for building an email send from start to finish, meaning they’ll need to be familiar with design tools like Illustrator and Photoshop, as well as HTML formatting.
A broad understanding of digital marketing strategies
Email marketing specialists don’t work in a vacuum. They collaborate with other digital marketers who, while working on different aspects of the marketing strategy, are striving toward the same goals (driving new client acquisition and existing customer retention).
Your email marketing efforts fit within a wider marketing strategy that is inextricably linked with social media strategies, sales initiatives and SEO and content marketing undertakings. As such, it’s important that email marketers also have a broad understanding of how each of these aspects of digital marketing functions.
What is the typical email marketing specialist’s salary?
Email marketing specialist salaries will vary based on location, company size, role expectations and your experience.
In the US in 2022, the average salary for this role is between $61,000 and $155,00 a year, with the median salary of around $90,000. Those with more than ten years of experience can expect to earn an average salary of $100,000.
The region your company is based in will also have a large impact. Here is the average email specialist salary in other countries.
Canada: CA$59,000 to CA$82,000
UK: £36,000 to £54,000
Australia: A$75,000 to A$110,000
New Zealand: NZ$85,000 to $100,000
Germany: €40,000 to €41,000
How to become an email marketing specialist
Each email marketer’s career path will be slightly different, so don’t feel that you need to follow these steps exactly.
However, you can use the following as a helpful framework for developing the necessary skills to succeed as an email marketing specialist.
Start with a course in email marketing
The ideal first step is to study a course in email marketing. This is the quickest way to obtain the necessary skills for an entry-level job.
While it’s possible to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in a marketing discipline, this is absolutely not necessary.
Many email marketers will undertake some general courses in digital marketing, and these can be helpful for learning specific skills like CSS and HTML coding and for becoming familiar with tools like Google Analytics and email automation platforms.
However, these courses are best when they supplement experience.
Get some experience under your belt
Email marketing is a discipline best learned through experience. The standard catch-22 applies here (it’s tough to get a job without experience, but you need to get the job to get the experience).
Consider how you might be able to develop expertise before landing your first full-time job as an email marketer.
Some options include:
Put together a portfolio
When applying for jobs, hiring managers will assess your application primarily on two dimensions:
Your resume (more on that soon)
Your portfolio is essentially your way of demonstrating your skillset. It shows recruiters that you’re skilled in the areas required for this job, backs up the claims you’ve made in your resume and allows you to highlight previous successes.
In your own portfolio, include a few examples of emails you’ve designed or written. If possible, supplement these with key email marketing metrics (open rate, click-through, etc.) that you’ve achieved with previous campaigns.
Build out an email marketing specialist resume
Your resume is a summary of your relevant work experience and education. Include any relevant qualifications you have and list your work experience, including for each role:
Your primary responsibilities
Key achievements in that role
Ways in which your experience from that role is relevant to the position you’re applying for
Add your relevant contact details (email, phone, LinkedIn) and be sure to include a link to your portfolio.
Browse for entry-level jobs
With your portfolio and resume prepared, it’s time to head to the job boards and start looking for vacancies.
The idea here is to find an opportunity where you can learn and grow (think learn vs. earn).
As a beginner, don’t aim for salaries toward the top of the salary bracket. Instead, focus on applying for jobs at companies that’ll provide significant opportunities for learning and development.
Wow your hiring manager with a compelling email
You’ve got a pretty unique opportunity here; emailing your recruiter or hiring manager to apply gives you an immediate opportunity to showcase your skillset.
Lean into your greatest strength. If you have a writing background, get creative with your introduction and cover letter.
If you’re more of a designer send through your application in the style of an HTML-formatted marketing email.
In any case, make sure both your resume and cover letter align with the job description. Look for key phrases (e.g. “broad understanding of digital marketing tactics”) and include these when talking about your own experience and expertise.
Email marketing specialist job description
Naturally, job descriptions will vary by company and position. Below is an example of the kind of job description you can expect to see when applying for jobs as an email marketing specialist.
As the email marketing specialist, you’ll manage all aspects of email marketing campaigns, including copywriting, design, list management and segmentation and reporting on key metrics.
- Designing and executing email campaigns
- Building email templates
- Copywriting and proofreading
- HTML email design
- Supporting overarching marketing strategies
- Collaborating with other marketing team members
- Designing manually-triggered and automated email campaigns
- Building appropriate and effective audience segments
- Designing and executing A/B tests
- Improving email deliverability
- Maximizing performance for opens, clicks, conversion, unsubscribes and revenue
- Demonstrable experience with email marketing platforms
- Understanding of broad digital marketing strategies
- Detailed understanding of email regulations and data compliance regulations (e.g. GDPR)
- Proven experience maximizing engagement with an email marketing list
- Experience with Google Analytics, CMS, HTML, CSS and A/B testing
- Strong project management, communication and interpersonal skills
- Email marketing
- Digital marketing
- Marketing automation
- Content marketing
- Template creation
- Analytics and reporting
A career as an email marketing specialist can be incredibly fulfilling, offering a decent salary and great growth potential.
While companies do hire junior email marketers (everyone has to start somewhere), you’ll have a better shot at getting your foot in the door if you nail down a few email marketing basics first.
Check out more articles on email marketing and build your email marketing knowledge today.