7 Habits of Highly Effective E-mail Marketing Leaders

The second quarter of the year has begun and hopefully your 2010 e-mail program has made serious progress. How do real e-mail marketing leaders avoid complacency? What makes up a great e-mail marketing maestro? Let’s evaluate:

  1. Constantly update your executive team: What I don’t mean here is sending 24 slide reviews on each campaign or a spreadsheet with nine tabs. The best e-mail leaders can demonstrate their effectiveness (and challenges) in a few bullets or in their 30 second update during a meeting. Think big picture impact, and as I have said many times, your CMO doesn’t care about opens – tell them about conversations, conversions, and revenue.
  2. Reinforce goals: I have walked into many meetings with clients, prospects, and e-mail managers and the first question I often ask is “What is your e-mail program trying to accomplish?” If there is a pause or not a clear consensus, then the team is not clear and this is a problem. Too often, the person responsible for the day-to-day has a goal of getting campaign X out the door rather than the broader goal.
  3. Provide clarity on subscriber value: We all know what e-mail programs we love and ignore. The best ones, we already have a connection to the brand, so a big chunk of the hard work is already done. Now, you have to deliver consistent and clear value to the subscribers. An e-mail leader with a big picture view can accurately sum up why someone should sign up for their e-mails and what they will get.
  4. Hire and monitor the right team: This could be the most crucial item, and means internal and external hires. Should you really hand the keys to an inexperienced internal person? Do you hire a generalist marketing agency (digital or traditional) that treats e-mail like an afterthought and has the track record to match? Do you solely rely on a technology platform that doesn’t provide the ROI (define) you need without the right services and hands-on expertise? You must be able to answer these questions or success will likely be unattainable. Don’t forget, it’s your job to challenge them and don’t let the program run on autopilot even when assembling the right team.
  5. Challenge conventional thinking and best practices: An e-mail marketing pro with a bright future is going to push the envelope, test what works (and what doesn’t), and not accept the answer “it is a best practice and that is why we are doing it.”
  6. Coordinate and integrate: The right e-mail marketing leaders really are digital experts and they just happen to be a subject matter expert. Anyone who knows e-mail and e-mail only has a one-way ticket to eternal middle management. The true e-mail visionaries are plotting their moves to enhance social, mobile, offline, and any other channel that touches your customer. Don’t get caught in the e-mail off-ramp without having the digital road map.
  7. Be passionate and articulate: I have seen plenty of talented digital practitioners get left behind because of being swallowed by organizational inertia, not fighting the “e-mail is cheap and easy” syndrome, or lacking the ability to defend why e-mail is a channel that commands the appropriate resources and attention. Stand up, state your case, and watch your career soar alongside your e-mail ROI.

If you believe these to be accurate attributes of strong e-mail leaders, what are some other must-have habits and who are some deserving leaders that fall into this category? Thanks in advance for highlighting your choice of e-mail hero.

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