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So You Want to Be an Email Marketer?

  |  September 11, 2000   |  Comments

The word is out. Email marketing is hot and getting hotter. Everyone wants to get into the act. Traditional direct marketers, print and broadcast ad agency execs, direct mail copywriters, and others are all asking, "How do I get in?" Kim breaks down some of the traits that can help an email marketer soar, as well as giving you a few tips on how to break into the biz.

The word is out. Email marketing is hot. And, as an industry, it seems (despite privacy debates and dips in response) to be getting hotter. You'd be surprised at how many emails I've received from traditional direct marketers, print and broadcast ad agency execs, direct mail copywriters, and others asking, "How do I get in?"

Therefore, this might be a good time to break down some of the traits that can help an email marketer soar, as well as cover a few tips on how to break into the biz.

What qualities are mandatory for an email marketer to be successful? An excellent work ethic, of course. The rest truly depends on what side of the business you want to get into.

Want to be a creative director for email promotions, either in an agency or working directly on the client side? In that role, you'd need to be highly imaginative - a visionary, even. You'd need to be able to take a tiny seed of an idea and make it blossom into something that not only looks great (at a quick-and-easy-to-download size) and reads well, but generates a knee-jerk reaction in people so strong that they simply can't help but click through.

Or are you more of a strategist? In other words, are you happiest when you're planning how to best segment a list for optimum results? Do you enjoy digging for information, doing research, and working with details to the nth degree? You could become an acquisitions media director or a retention strategy director. Take your pick.

Yes, these are job functions that are found outside the email marketing arena, too. However, once you get the unique aspects of the industry down pat, you may just find that things move faster in the e-world. Deadlines loom earlier. Day turns into night and night into day - and before you know it, you've plowed through 20 projects in the amount of time that it used to take to finish ONE. In your previous life, that is.

Which means you should prepare yourself for a big change, no matter how many offline marketing roles you've had. And, like most other jobs in the fast-paced Internet and direct marketing industries, you also need to:

  • Be able to juggle multiple projects. At any given time, you may be working on 17 different projects simultaneously, each in a different stage of your production and/or deployment schedule. Multitaskers rule here.

  • Have a strong sense of urgency. Deadlines come fast and furious. If you're working on creative, for instance, be prepared to take an initial concept to completion in just a few short days.

  • Be good with people. No matter what role you choose, you'll most likely be working with a multitude of different personality types. The potential stress level can often wig people out. Try and keep the peace.

  • Be detail-oriented. This is an absolute must. Not until you start working on the nitty-gritty necessities that go into each and every campaign can you appreciate the level of detail required. Trust me, it's intense.

One of the best ways, in my opinion, to get your feet wet and learn all about the trade is to work on the media end. Put together plans, do list research, read results... then do it all over again. There is no better training.

Additionally, subscribe to anything and everything that is of interest to you. Visit your favorite sites and opt in to their newsletters or special offer emails. Sign up to receive promotions within your favorite categories of interest with acquisitions-list providers. Anything you receive from that point on will help you see what works and what doesn't in an email.

This is the best time to break into this industry. New positions are being created every day. So be persistent. Do your homework. Be sure you know what you're getting into.

Then go for it.

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Kim MacPherson

Kim MacPherson is President and Founder of Inbox Interactive, a full-service email marketing agency specializing in promotional copywriting, HTML design, planning, and deployment/tracking solutions. Kim is also the author of "Permission-Based E-mail Marketing That Works!"

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