Lessons Learned After The First 5 Years as an Email Marketer

This post is a tongue-in-cheek response to a post by Joy Ugi over at Only Influencers about her first 12 months as an email marketer. 

It’s your fifth year as an email marketer.

Then you blink and a whole decade has flown by. It happened to me, and I bet it already happened to you. After five years of email marketing, you haven’t learned everything there is to know, but you damn well feel like you know everything.

But then you still get those rude awakenings when you feel a disturbance in the email marketing Force.

Learn. Do Something With What You Learn.

It’s easy to read what other email marketers are doing. I do it every day. I have a weekly blog roundup listing those same articles and posts I read. We go to conferences and attend webinars where we learn to be a better email marketer.

But all of that is for naught if we don’t do something with that knowledge. This is the biggest thing I’ve learned over the last five years in marketing, specifically as an email marketer.

It’s easy to see the new Engagement Studio from Pardot, get some best practices, some example drip campaigns, and go to your team saying, “Look at this great new addition to Pardot!” But what separates you as a “veteran” of email marketing is your ability to do something with that knowledge, something to make your marketing efforts and campaigns better.

Be Humble. Educate.

It seems as though the egos of those in Marketing are only second in size to the egos of those in Sales. It’s easy for us in email marketing to feel that we “know better” than most, because outside of marketing, most people still think of email marketing as spam. It’s easy for us to look down upon those who “don’t know better.”

Why educate someone who wants to buy a list and blast out the latest sales promotion?

You- the email marketer – educate them because it makes the entire organization better. You are only as strong as your weakest point, and if the stakeholders in your organization continue to believe email marketing stands alone and is meant for blast emails, well, you’re not doing your job. Period.

So you need to be humble and educate those around you. Teach them the same values you hold dear about clean email design, responsive and mobile-first principles, connecting email with marketing automation and your CRM. All of these take you, your colleagues, and your organization to the next level.

Be More.

Many organizations, mine included, don’t have the luxury of having one staff or employee focusing solely on email marketing, let alone having multiple staff focusing on email marketing. Here where I live and work in Cedar Rapids, I know a few email marketers from GoDaddy. They’ve presented to local marketers a few times about email marketing best practices. Now, they have the luxury many of us don’t: dedicated designers and dedicated writers. Awesome!

Most of us don’t have that.

And so we need to do more. Show value and bring value in other ways. For you, is that marketing automation? Analytics? Digital Campaigns? Social? Take the strengths you’ve developed working in email marketing and transfer them to another interest, find ways to bring value to your organization with your strengths.

It’s A Journey.

When I took my current job almost five years ago, I would be hard pressed to imagine where I am now. I code in my sleep. I know Pardot menus in my dreams. I know what Custom Fields are linked from Salesforce, and what Custom Objects we can only report on in Salesforce.

It’s been an incredible journey. And it’s not over, yet. Just keep swimming.

Weekly Blog Roundup – August 5, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Email Marketing

What’s your email marketing plan?” – MailChimp

Good post on the basics of setting up a plan for your email marketing.

5 remarkably effective email personalization tactics” – Emma

Starts off with a great analogy that everyone will understand, and gets better from there. Emma hits it out of the park with this post.

Six Email Habits That Are Alienating Your Customers” – MarketingProfs

Amazing how many people and companies still do some of these habits. Got to have buy-in from leadership to push best practices forward. Not everyone has that luxury.

The Email Marketing Playlist” – Litmus via Spotify

Ha! What a fun way to start the weekend! Been listening to this while putting my last two posts together! Perfect! “Jump in the Line” is great for post writing!

Monochrome MailChimp: A New Favorite

I’ve written about Unroll.me before many times. It’s probably my favorite item in my inbox every day. And it’s the worst item in my inbox every day as well. (What’s even worse is when their servers go down, but that’s extremely infrequent.)

The reason Unroll.me is my favorite/worst item in my inbox is because it collects all of the crap that I don’t want to read every day. It’s the crap that I’ve signed up for because, at some point, I wanted that spammy newsletter or shopping email.

(P.S. If the NSA or CIA or Kremlin is reading this, put spam like this in front of me, tell me that I have to redesign the emails to good design, and I’ll tell you anything.)

In the midst of all of that, a nice little email caught my eye today, and the sender definitely knows a little something about email.

monochrome-mailchimp-no-images
This is the email that caught my eye, and without images as well!

Yes, MailChimp is a modern marvel with email design, but I had to write about this email. This. This is not something we, even as email designers, see every day. This is pushing the envelope, in a very good way.

One of the things I love about the design, is that it’s not completely black-and-white. The beige/creme header stands out against the black/grey motif of the lower half and gives the reader some breathing room to focus on the header – “A few of our favorites.”

And while I didn’t open the email on mobile until I was writing this blog post, the design is definitely mobile-friendly.

The same email, with images.
The same email, with images.
The mobile version, as shown by Litmus Scope.
The mobile version, as shown by Litmus Scope.

Stranger Things

Now, I thought to myself, this is a pretty cool email, right? So, I’m in Litmus Scope — which, by the way, if you’re not using, you need to — and I check the text version of the email.

The very long text version of the Awesome Monochrome MailChimp Email.
The very long text version of the Awesome Monochrome MailChimp Email.

At first glance, I think, “Oh, they expanded the text snippets of the articles for each of their links.” And then I read closer, and realize something else: This is marketing about MailChimp!

Snippet of the text version.
Snippet of the text version.

The text-version of the email had nothing to do with the actual email. It was marketing.

Now, I would absolutely love to hear the conversations that not only came up with this idea, but pushed it forward. (Author’s Note: I don’t receive many emails from MailChimp, so this could be something they do on regular basis, but I also know that not everyone reads the text version of emails.)

Now, I’ve loaded this email into Litmus Scope, so you can take a look at it in all it’s glory.

A lot to think about

A main reason why I wanted to share this email and my thoughts on the email was that it really got my wheels turning. It’s so unusual! It’s minimalist, but still full. It’s monochrome, but still colorful in a way. It functions across all platforms. And then there’s the text version!

10/10 Mailchimp. Bravo.