Email Marketing Academy: 4 Great Resources to Improve your Email Marketing Knowledge


When Webbula's Jenna Devinney asked me to contribute to Webbula’s blog, I was honored. Jenna is a rising star in the email industry and oversees a blog that's full of content that's phenomenal, especially these days when so many things are changing and marketers have so many opportunities to learn, test, and try new things.   

But a new column of hers, published recently on Only Influencers, got me thinking. In it, she says, "If I would have had some sort of a basic knowledge of the email industry, it could have helped me in my first year." 

I agree with Jenna that email marketing has largely been a self-taught skill. Many of us applied what we already knew about marketing to this new channel or learned from our fellow marketers at conferences, in training sessions and webinars, in email forums, and other community sources. But the key was that we all shared what we knew and built our own knowledge base.

And I'm still learning! I believe that you can become a better email marketer by establishing a regular reading program and carving out time every day to read industry blogs and articles, seeing what people are saying on social media, and staying current with the news at large.


Help for your self-education course

Yes, I know one challenge is finding the time. But that's the wrong mindset. You have to make the time. I block out an hour on my calendar so I can comb through my favorite news sources, digest what I read and figure out how to use it to inform my work and serve my clients better. 

Another challenge is finding reliable sources to read. Although it's easy to find good email content, you have to sift through a lot of chaff to find those grains of wheat. 

Here are a few of my favorite sources. Use them to build your reading list with authoritative voices, trustworthy and thought-provoking content, and to follow smart people who know what they're talking about, whom you can learn from and who will lead you to more sources for your self-education.


1. The Webbula blog

I'm not endorsing Webbula as a brand (and Jenna didn't slip me a briefcase full of money to write this). But I have been excited and pleased to see her work and the work from other people in the company and its stellar roster of guest writers.

Put the Webbula blog on your reading list.  You'll find a wealth of knowledge that addresses real-world work challenges. 

Also check out the posts that present a cross-section of opinions from informed industry leaders like Kath Pay (Holistic Email Marketing), Dela Quist (Alchemy Worx), Jeanne Jennings (Email Optimization Shop and Only Influencers) and more. The Webbula blog does a great job to unify all that content into coherent messages and themes. 


2. Only Influencers 

I am fortunate to be a regular contributor to the Only Influencers blog. Jeanne Jennings, the general manager, has done an excellent job structuring the content and encouraging influential people to talk about important issues in the email space. 

Whenever I write a blog post, I put a lot of thought into my contribution because I know a lot of smart people will read it and because many readers are email marketers who want to learn. I'm not the only writer who elevates their game when they write for the site.

Since Bill McKloskey founded the organization, and now under Jeanne's guidance, OI has become one of the most respected places for email marketers to gather. Whenever I come to the blog or read people's group posts or sit in on a call, I'm enlightened. 

The blog challenges my thoughts and opinions and expands my horizons. It has taken leadership positions on challenges like dealing with Apple's Mail Privacy Protection feature. Authors like Chad S. White, Chris Marriott, Matthew Dunn, and so many others challenge and expand what I practice!

Yes, it costs $20 a month ($200 a year), to access all the members-only features, but it's about the best $20 I spent. You also can sign up for the free member newsletter to stay current on industry news and OI happenings. 


3. MediaPost

Ray Schultz is an industry news stalwart and has been writing about email and marketing forever for MediaPost's Email Marketing Daily and Email Insider news sources. He's unusual in that he is a veteran reporter who specializes in email and has broken some high-profile news stories over the years.

Ray is plugged into people and companies across all industries and cuts through the jargon and hype to find news, trends, statistics, and other useful things that keep you informed. I read his material daily and am pleased to have been a source on some key stories over the years.

MediaPost, through its conference arm and with Ray's contributions, have helped raise the industry's profile and knowledge. If you don't have a MediaPost membership (it's free!), sign up for one as soon as you finish reading this post.


4. Twitter

If you're not on Twitter regularly, you should be. Yes, it can be a huge time suck. But ever since I started on Twitter I've used the list function to keep tabs on people whose comments and opinions I value. Lists help you curate a lot of different content on the fly so you can stay up on trends and discussions without spending your whole day scrolling through posts.

So, whom should you follow on Twitter? Me, of course! But if you need more contacts, I put together this list of people you should follow. You can follow my whole list or go through and pick out the people you're most interested in. That will lead you to even more knowledgeable people.

No, this is not an exhaustive list or the definitive list of people to follow.  I don’t do those because, honestly, I don't want to forget someone. This list is just a place to start. As you find people to follow, look whom they follow, and it could lead you to some new, fresh voices.


5. MarTech 

I have been a regular contributor for several years. The thought leadership inside and outside of email is astounding. It’s the central place to learn about current events and thinking in digital marketing from authors across the spectrum.

That broad view is important because successful marketing isn’t about just one channel, like email.  It’s about the cohesive link between all digital channels. One of the reasons that I like MarTech is that I get a well-rounded look at what else is going on. It challenges me not to be myopic about email, to realize the connective tissue between all digital channels.

Kath Pay and I lead the email practice. I surmise that they’re looking to expand that this year.


Wrapping up

My source list here is comparatively small, and it represents just a cross-section of the sources I check regularly. But it's a good launchpad for you to begin or continue your own educational journey. I hope it sends you off in lots of other directions to find writers and communities with information you can trust. 

These sources also should get you out of the echo chamber, where everyone is just repeating what they heard from someone else and no one is doing any original thinking. 

No, we don't have degrees in email marketing yet. But the sheer output of blog posts and trade articles, webinar and conference session recordings, podcasts, whitepapers, user communities and social media is an education by itself. 

You can find just about anything you need with a good Google search. I encourage you to look for this information and give yourself time to read and reflect on it so you can act strategically to grow your email program. 

Thanks again to Jenna for asking me to participate – and, Webbula folks, she deserves a raise!


Meet the Author

As the Managing Partner of, Ryan Phelan's two decades of global marketing leadership has resulted in innovative strategies for high-growth SaaS and Fortune 250 companies. His experience and history in digital marketing have shaped his perspective on creating innovative orchestrations of data, technology, and customer activation for Adestra, Acxiom, Responsys, Sears & Kmart, BlueHornet, and infoUSA.

Working with peers to advance digital marketing and mentoring young marketers and entrepreneurs are two of Ryan's passions. Ryan is the Chairman Emeritus of the Email Experience Council Advisory Board and a member of numerous business community groups. He is also an in-demand keynote speaker and thought leader on email and digital marketing.

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