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Career in Email? Here’s How to Excel

by Karen Talavera

05 17, 2015 | Posted in Email Marketing, Marketing Vision | 0 comments

After fifteen years in email marketing, I recently joined the board of the Email Experience Council (EEC)the industry association for legitimate email marketing and the nexus of entrepreneurs, executives and experts leading the email marketing world itself.

Shortly before the EEC’s annual Email Evolution Conference earlier this month, the organization sat down with me for a discussion about careers in email marketing. We covered what up-and-coming professionals in email, as well as CMOs and senior execs responsible for the channel, need to know and develop in the way of talent, skills and mindset. That interview follows.

If you’re currently cultivating or considering a career involving email marketing, read on to learn about the great growth opportunities that await.

1. What do you think are the most valuable skills for early- and mid-career marketers to develop today?  

The ability to think about the big picture is super important, especially for people early in a career.  They are often in a role where they have some very specific tasks – and they are not encouraged to think beyond what they’re supposed to do.  It’s important for them to develop that way of thinking early, and not to be afraid to ask questions and get involved in strategy, because that’s what’s going to open doors.

email marketingPeople in mid-career need to think about what they want to branch and evolve into next.  Email people have a unique blend of creative and analytical prowess.  They need to think about which avenue they want to develop. To evolve vertically in an organization, they are going to have to think more broadly – and take on a broader array of responsibility.

2.  What talent gaps have you observed in the marketing field over the past year?  What can CMOs and executives within the supplier/vendor/provider community do to bridge these gaps in their companies in the year ahead?  

The biggest talent gaps are in two areas:

  1. Marketing analytics. This is the ability to not just think analytically but to analyze data. There are more and more data available to us as we use more marketing channels — and it’s available to us faster.  So we need people with more statistical ability, who actually have that academic background.  They are advanced Excel users, or they have the ability to use other analytical software and tools that are out there, and can take raw data and numbers and extract information out of it.
  1. Tech-savvy prowess/capability. Not everyone who ends up in a role that has something to do with digital or online marketing actually develops programming skills or beyond-the-basics computer science skills.  Academically, this will need to be taught more in schools.  We will see a day when everyone needs to write HTML or at least know their way around this as a tech language. This is not a talent gap that is unique to an age group – because all generations and age groups will have their own limits and barriers.

What can CMO’s and executives do?  They need to cross-pollinate skill sets between people in different functional areas of an organization.  It’s not going to be acceptable for sales people not to know about marketing – and marketing needs to know about sales.  IT needs to know about marketing and marketers will need some IT skills. It’s going to take senior-level vision to get people out of those silos.

3. What did you observe in this year’s EEC award winners that stood out?  Are there clues in their careers and approaches that can help other emerging marketing talent quickly advance their effectiveness?

Both winners (Justine Jordan and Alessandra Souers) have both a left and right brain mind set– a balance of analytical and creative ability – art and science.  Both are completely willing and eager candidates for breaking with convention and thinking out of the box.  They are not afraid to break rules. And both winners’ companies have a nimble culture that allows the freedom and flexibility to thrive with a more blended mindset for how to get things done.  It’s a culture that allows people to be unconventional and not worried about conforming to a set of corporate rules.

It’s great – two winners who are women and young, who can just run at a pace as fast as allowed, because there is no limit to what they can get done.

4. What trends have you observed developing over the past two years regarding the emergence of women in the email marketing space?  

I’ve been teaching email marketing trainings, workshops and seminars for fifteen years for a variety of trade associations and professional education organizations such as the DMA, ANA, OMI and MarketingProfs.  In the last 5-7 years, I’ve noticed a shift in the seminars I teach to being almost exclusively women.  In the early days it was skewing much more male.

It’s encouraging to see more women in the more technical channels of marketing — the digital channels and email channels – and being in roles where they can develop both left brain and right brain skills.  They are coming in fairly young – and realizing that they can make a significant impact – if they are in an organization where email can directly drive revenue.

I think it bodes well.  It’s a good entry point for women in marketing – and for women who want to take their careers in a more technical direction—and having the mindset and the marketing background can only help them.

5. What specific opportunities does the EEC Conference offer to help early-, mid- and senior-career marketers advance their skills and careers?

The EEC Email Evolution Conference is great for young and mid-career marketers.  Anyone who’s new to the world of email or email as a marketing channel will be at an event where they will have access to hands-on educational info. Beyond that, they are going to get acquainted with the provider landscape, and there is going to be fantastic networking.  They are going to meet the thought-leaders of the industry, but they are also going to meet their peers who are a little further down the road who can lend a guiding hand.

It’s also great for those in mid-career who want to hear success stories, case studies, and desire peer collaboration.  Case studies and real-world challenges, innovations and successes are some of the best things about the conference.  They give [people in mid-career] the chance to un-trench from their own company/brand and see how their peers in different types of companies are making email work contribute to sales, revenue and growth.

For senior executives, it’s a fantastic networking and relationship-building event.  While they may not need the same educational or tactical skills that younger marketers need, they do need the connections.  The event is an opportunity to see what capabilities and innovations are new in the space — and also what’s changing from a legal and compliance standpoint.

I’m biased because I’ve been in email for 15 years, most of the lifespan of the industry, and during that time have come to know the email marketing arena as a small, wonderful, close-knit world.  There is a non-competitive attitude – a mindset that we all just want the channel to work better.  It’s important and precious, and says a lot about the people that have built lasting careers in this space, (like my fellow EEC board members).

The EEC’s Email Evolution Conference helps to strengthen this.  One of the intentions of those of us planning of the conference is to bring industry newcomers fully into the fold and make them feel as welcome for as long as they want to stay. This year, I’m confident we’ll succeed!

The EEC is a wholly-owned council of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). This post originally appeared in a similar format here.

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