Welcome Class of 2027
Many of us on the agency, consulting, and vendor sides of the email industry have been in the business for a decade or more. And if you’re like me, there are times when you think to yourself, “If I see one more article or sit through one more conference session on the topic of deliverability, my head is going to explode!” It’s been a continuing topic for the last 20 years, and at times it seems like we’re being given the same advice over and over again. Can’t we ever move on from what seems to be just the basics? My point is not to pick on the deliverability experts, because it’s not just this topic that seems to be endlessly recycled. The list is long, and includes the importance of testing, what metrics should be tracked, and pretty much anything else that could be considered a “best practice” in email marketing.
Note: The Author of this blog post, Chris Marriott, will be leading a discussion on this topic during the OI-members-only Live Zoom on Thursday, November 2, 2023.
It seems that, while the platforms have undergone a tremendous amount of evolution over the last 20 years, the advice given to email marketers has been stuck in time. I was thinking about this earlier this year when it finally struck me what was going on.
For those of us on the agency, consulting, and vendor sides of email marketing—whether at an ESP, an agency, a third-party tool, etc.—this is our career. We’re in email marketing for the long-haul. We have lots of hands-on experience and tend to have worked with a large variety of clients in various verticals. We may have even started on the brand side, only to move over to the agency, consulting, or vendor side later in our career.
Meet the faculty at Email University.
For those on the brand/client side of email marketing, however, the foray into email marketing is often a steppingstone to different roles, either into other areas of marketing or into management roles. Roles with greater responsibilities and broader duties. Let’s face it, positions in email marketing are often entry-level jobs on the brand side. That’s one of the things that makes email marketing so awesome. It’s where we start! But it’s assumed that these jobs are transitional, and that we’ll be moving on in a couple of years. Which means there is a constant influx of new people into the email marketing department on the brand/client side of the business.
Meet the students at Email University.
What’s the significance of that? It means that on the client side there are folks with varying degrees of experience in email marketing, including those who have just been hired to backfill entry-level positions.
Meet the freshman class at Email University.
Thinking of email marketing in these terms, it all makes sense. If you think about a freshman math professor, he or she generally teaches from the same syllabus each year. This year’s freshmen learn the same thing the previous year’s class learned. Everyone needs to start with the basics and move on from there. It’s no different in email marketing. The importance of great deliverability practices and of testing, testing, testing need to be taught to each new group of client-side email marketers, whether the “class” is taught to them by their ESP, their email agency partner, their boss, or someone writing a blog post here on Only Influencers.
At the same time, the faculty of Email University need to address the needs of sophomores, juniors, and seniors so they too can advance their skillsets and become better practitioners of their craft. Even graduate level courses! New subjects like AMP for email, BIMI, Apple’s MPP, and yes, the collision of CDPs and ESPs, present opportunities for the agency-consulting-vendor community to further guide client-side email marketers.
Tips for Faculty
If you consider yourself part of the faculty, here are some tips on how you can ensure your student ratings are near the top so that you stay on the tenure track!
- Be patient with the students. You have many more years of experience. You shouldn’t expect your fresh- men and -women to understand topics you take for granted.
- Know your audience when you write or speak:
- 100-level for freshman
- 200-level for other students
- save the 400-level for your #emailgeek friends (well, maybe pepper some of it in with the 100 and 200 level content)
Like actual professors, you need to periodically tweak your syllabus, content, and presentations. This helps the content stay fresh, as well as your presentation of it (tempting as it might be to rerun an article on A/B testing that you wrote in 2015). In addition to content updates, you should make notes on how audiences react to the content. Where do their questions seem focused? It should always be about iterating what you’re doing to make it better, even though the content might be 95% the same as the last time.
You should also be prepared to offer guidance for areas of extra credit. Which conferences should your students consider attending? Email Innovations World (formerly the Email Innovations Summit) is one valuable suggestion, as is joining and participating in the Only Influencers email community! Classroom participation is a big part of the grade!
Tips for Students
For those of you who consider yourselves students, here’s some advice for you:
- Even if email isn’t your final destination, seek out knowledge and learn how to do the best email marketing you can do.
- Employers love team members who are enhancing their knowledge to the betterment of the company’s bottom-line – these are the people who get budget, raises, and promotions.
- Many of the things learned here in the email world will help you even if you move to another channel (not so much deliverability, but things like message maps, testing, copywriting, segmentation and targeting, etc.) – so it’s an investment in your digital marketing future.
- Email was one of the first digital marketing channels – it paved the way for social media. The skills are transferrable. And who knows… you may find you love it here in the email space and stay!
Tips for Fresh- men and women
Lastly, for you in the class of 2027, here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin:
- You may not love email – that’s okay.
- You may really want to work in social or another channel – that’s also okay,
- Despite what you’ve heard, email is not easy.
- If you increase your knowledge you’ll enjoy the channel more – and you will do better email marketing.
- And all the things under ‘for students’ – the fastest way to move out of email and into the channel you have your heart set in working in… is to do a great job at email marketing!
So, in conclusion, let me welcome the class of 2027 to Email University. Whether your stay is only one year, or you go the full four years, I look forward to seeing you grow as email marketers. And I hope to see you on an Only Influencers members-only weekly Zoom call in the near future. Don’t forget that participation is a big part of your grade!