Ask the Experts: What are the top 3 skills for a successful email marketer in 2023?


In 2021, Webbula launched a video series where we sat down with email industry experts to discuss various topics within the email marketing world. Each month, Webbula introduces a new lineup of email experts with a new topic.

Follow along in 2022, for 12 new questions and a new lineup of email experts. Thank you to every email expert who participated in this video series and provided advice to other email marketers. 


HubSpot Video


Nicholas Einstein

Vice President of Product Marketing, Netcore Cloud


The top three things to be successful as an email marketer. One, I think you do need some level of organization. You need to be able to map out campaigns, segments, and strategy and tie it all together. Some degree of organization is critical.

Second, you need to be creative. You need to be inquisitive. You need to be doing something beyond the ordinary. To be extraordinary, you can't be ordinary. And in the inbox, there is so much volume, and to stand out from the crowd, you really need to, as an email marketer, be willing to be curious and be willing to kind of do things outside of the norm.

Third, you need to be disciplined about measurement; often, many of us are focused on those first two. We execute excellent campaigns and then we move on to the next campaign. As email marketers, I think you need to focus on those post-campaign actions and analysis to ensure that the data we're integrating and using drives the business.
That degree of kind of measurement and closing the loop on everything is critical. Those are the top three necessary skills from my perspective.



HubSpot Video


Betsy Grondy

Director of Email Marketing, Recurly


I think the first one is going to be organization. It's really important to have your spreadsheets or your calendar or whatever you use to keep yourself on schedule, keep all of that in a really neat and orderly way because there are a lot of email unicorns out there, but we're not all unicorns a lot of us have teams that can help us out and support us and so having that in an organized way so that people can pitch in and help is really important.

I also think that flexibility is super important for email marketers because there's always last-minute rush requests or the product you were going to sell if your B2C is out of stock, so if you have to like, completely redo this email. Or your ESP is down, and you have to be super flexible.

The third thing I would say is a desire to learn. Email is ever-changing and evolving and we've seen in the last year with Apple's MPP and then with new legislations coming in about privacy, GDPR led the way in that, and other reasons are picking up on that, you just have to have that desire to learn and keep abreast of like all of the new things that are coming out of the time.



HubSpot Video


Shmuel Herschberg

CMO, Shyn Media


I think email marketers are communicators first and foremost. We're kind of like the gatekeepers of what content actually goes out to the subscribers, whether they're customers or potential customers and leads. In terms of that, we must be excellent copywriters and have a flare for it. It doesn't necessarily mean we need to be writing the copy, but we need to review the copy and understand what makes a subscriber a member of your email list tick and get a response? That's very important.

Coding is also a very big part of email marketing. It doesn't come with that often because again, like, you know, when it comes to, um, When it comes to broadcast campaigns, and you're cloning campaigns, it's not going to be an everyday occurrence. If something happens like the template breaks, that's going be something that you're going to be the first line of defense. You're going to have to go out and try to figure that out.

The last thing in terms of being a good email marketer is just the bigger picture having that perspective to see where email marketing fits in the digital marketing suite.



HubSpot Video


Guilda Hilaire

Director of Product Marketing, Salesforce


Creativity - I definitely think, especially how we see the email world changing the elements in an email campaign aren't the same things that you would see 15 plus years ago such as the design, layout, and the complexity of the build. The strategy that you're using. As an email marketer, you have to be creative. You also have to be strategic. For me, those are really the top two skills, and I see a lot of email marketers need to really challenge themselves. It's that strategic thinking, that strategic mindset, the strategic mind frame. No two email campaigns are the same. So I have to think, "what were the findings from these previous campaigns? What changes do I need to make?" But you also have to be creative enough to look at the build and figure out, "how can I take it up a notch? What are some of the things that I could do to bring this email campaign to the next level? What are the programmatic elements that I need to change in the campaign?"

You have to be creative, you have to be strategic, but most importantly, you have to be passionate. You have to have passion. There are times as an email marketer you are judged, and your tips are challenged by others, especially as females. Back then when you think about email marketers, it was the women that would hit the send button. Gone are those days, we women are developers, architects - we're doing the build. We're getting our hands dirty, but sometimes in the space your thoughts and ideas are challenged.

I think we have to be passionate. We have to use our voice, and we have to stand behind what we believe in as an email marketer, you have to have that heart to be able to stand by what you do, how you do it, and what you're saying in this industry because it could literally tear you down. You have to be positive in everything that you do.

So those are the top three things I would say are being strategic, being creative, just having that passion, that heart, no matter what roadblocks you face that you continue pushing yourself through and not letting anyone or anything bring you down.



HubSpot Video


Andrew Kordek

VP of Customer Engagement, iPost


Number one - You have to be curious. You have to have a tremendous amount of curiosity. Not just, "Hey, we're just gonna execute this and go." You have to be curious about what your subscribers and how they're reacting. Curious to what tests will work, about breaking the barriers of creativity, or of other things in this industry that we tend to beat the drum on.

Number two - you have to have a passion for learning. Look, I've been in this industry a long time and I've been ranked as a thought leader and that's great, but I'm a student. I'm a student and will continue to be a student of this industry for the rest of my career.

You have to have this passion for learning and learning new things, and not just being set in your ways. You have to learn, adapt, and then sort of implement what you do learn. You can't be saying, "well, I've always done it this way. Or, you know, I've been in this industry for 21 years, and here's the way I've always been successful." You have to have that curiosity and then learn.

Lastly, you need to eliminate the "I" from the conversation. I'm guilty of it too, but when I think about being successful or the three traits you need to be successful, it's not about what I did in the email program. It's not about what I implemented. It's not what I was able to do to increase revenue. This is a team effort. Eliminate that "I" and people that were able to influence you, especially the team members, if you're a team leader or if you're a designer, and some of the influences you got there. So eliminate the "I", be curious, and have a passion for learning.



HubSpot Video


Kath Pay

Founder & CEO, Holistic Email Marketing 



First one is passion. Be passionate about your business, be passionate about the consumer, and your end audience. Be passionate about delivering top-quality email marketing programs. If you have that passion, then that passion is going to evolve and carry you forth into doing your research, caring enough to actually be doing your scientific A/B split testing and putting a strategy together and everything like that.

The second one would be to be strong in yourself. I know a lot of email marketers who are amazing and they feel very daunted. The truth of the matter is they have insights. They have experience They don't have the complete package, but who does? Be confident or loudly confident if needs be and make sure, "Hey, listen, I have all the data to support this particular hypothesis or premise that I am pitching to you."

The next one is to be prepared and that means that certainly, within email marketing, we often have to prove ourselves, and we do have to prove our hypotheses, and we do have to prove why we need an additional budget and all the rest of it. So be prepared, get your data, get your ducks in a row, and put everything together. Create your business cases that you need and don't just go there and fingers crossed all the best because it's possible not going to happen. If you give them the data they cannot argue with and present a solid case, you're more likely to get the budget that you need, the resources, whatever it is that you need.



HubSpot Video


Ryan Phelan

Managing Partner, RPE Origin


You have to be driven because there's no way you're going get your program better if you're not driven. If you're just doing the status quo, you've got to want to give back. So give back, not only to the industry, which is what I think I've spent my career doing is trying to not only help my clients, but give back to the community, but you have to give back to the person that's next after you. That takes documentation, and that takes helping the next person get up to speed.

The third thing is that you have to be in touch with the customer persona. Who are you trying to speak to? Who are you trying to appeal to? You're not a car salesman. You're an email marketer. You have to know your audience. You have to know how they're going to react. You have to know what resonates with them and the voice and the tone and how to take the brand assets and adapt them to email. I think those are the three critical characteristics of a great email marketer.





HubSpot Video


Tejas Pitkar

Outbound Marketing Strategy, Hurix Digital


I work as a product marketer, but I still send the email newsletter for our company. So I do work as an email marketer here. Here are four qualities you need.

First, you need good content and good copywriting skills to tell some amazing product stories. We use some really great narratives around your content and make your subscribers read your entire email. Try to look at your website, see what kind of products you're coming up with, and what are the new features you're coming up with.

You also need to create communication skills in order to build relationships. I'm just talking about my role right now. In order to evangelize the product in various communities, you have to talk at events. You have to give keynote speeches at conferences, one-on-one collaborations with industry experts like I'm having right now.

The third thing would be to keep yourself updated with the latest trends because they keep on changing. 2021 has shown that a lot of email trends happened this year, right, from BIMI to Apple MPP.

You need a lot of analytical skills as well as exploring the data that is there on your platform to find a kind of pattern through.

Presented as some thought leadership content and we have to come out with great insights and view some stories around your product. You have to be an amazing storyteller.

Domain knowledge is like an optional thing, but if you can get some really great domain expertise right now, I say email, if you know, email in and out say even the technical aspects of it, you worked in deliverability before, or you worked in email support and you worked on crafting email marketing campaigns then you worked as a product marketer. You get an entire view of email and yes, you can also develop your domain expectation. That will definitely help you. It'll become a better email market.



HubSpot Video


Anne Tomlin

Founder/Responsive HTML Email Developer, Emails Y'All


So let's see, the first one would be HTML and CSS as just a basic foundation that you really should know. You should get into a little bit of HTML five because while four is mostly used, five is getting more traction in the email space.

Any sort of training or books or courses, anything like that is gonna start from a place where they think that you already know HTML and CSS. That's I think the very first thing.

Number two is scripting languages. They are used in a bunch of different ESP. Some of them have proprietary ones, but then there are some like handlebar used by Iterable and Sendgrid. Suppose you want to start with a scripting language to get to know how to use it within an ESP to get dynamic content and personalization and all that upper-level kind of stuff. In that case, you really need to get a foundation at some point with scripting language.

I think probably the best place to start would be handlebar and then go out from there because handlebar will at least get you the basics of how feed works and all the kind of extra technical stuff that goes into needing a scripting language to accomplish what you want to get across to your audience.

The last one would be math. I have never multiplied so many fractions in my entire life. There is so much math. When you're finding out the widths and heights of elements. There are emails that are laid out 50-50 or 30-70 well, Outlook doesn't take kindly to percentages.


HubSpot Video


Chad S. White

Head of Research, Oracle Marketing Consulting


I think the skills that are necessary to be successful in email marketing have changed over the years. It really is this mix of art and science, but the science is undeniably becoming more important. Another thing that's really changing things is how email marketing is really integrated with other channels and other departments. So there are three skills that I think are really necessary.

I think one is curiosity. Really important to be curious. To want to understand why things behave the way they do, and why consumers behave the way they do.

I will be the first to say that consumers are very strange. They do strange things. They do not behave like we want them to behave or expect them to behave. I've been in this industry a long time and have a pretty good sense of what works and what doesn't work, but that said in any A/B test, I'd probably be only right about 65-70% of the time.

Even like being just steeped in this industry, you're just going to be wrong quite often because people are weird and they don't always behave the way that you think they are and they're always evolving and changing.

The other thing is that curiosity is definitely necessary when new things emerge. Not just an eye on consumers, but when the technology changes, when privacy and other laws change, you gotta keep that curiosity. Uh, so you can continue to adapt.

Number two you need to have a mind for numbers. You have to have conversations that are numbers-oriented with leaders within your organization. It's really important to understand the business side of things, which is of course driven by numbers. We have to understand what all those numbers mean not just in our industry, but in every industry, metrics get misused all the time. I think in email marketing, we have a lot of metrics that can be misused, probably have more metrics, than a lot of other industries do.

So understanding what each of those metrics actually means and how they can be used to tell you one thing, but not a bunch of other things is really critical. I see very often, metrics being used in the wrong ways. Numbers can betray you have to make sure you really understand what those numbers mean.

Number three, because our industry is de-siloing, we're working with a web team social team, and with sales and service, we need more people skills. It is really important. It used to be, and it was sort of a sad joke that email marketers were the people who were like away, locked in the basement, doing our own thing all by ourselves. There was obviously that sad because, for a lot of people, I think it was very true that a lot of email marketers felt very isolated and shunned and put off to the side, doing their own things. And they would get someone shouting down to them to, "send out the next email" and they would go on and they would create that.

That's not the environment most companies are at today. Most companies today, email marketing folks are expected to collaborate and share, and frankly, if that's not happening in an organization, then you need to help drive that kind of change. It's not email versus some other channel, it's always email with other channels and using the intelligence that we get out of our marketing relationships to inform how we treat people in other channels because you know, at the end of the day, It's not about the subscriber, it's about the customer and that customer is this amalgamation of email interactions, store interactions, web interactions, app interactions, all those things together. So email is just one piece of the pie, and we really need to make sure that we're coordinating with those other channels, sharing information, sharing intelligence, back and forth and that requires some very definite good soft skills that maybe not every email marketer has. So it's good to work on those too.



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