An email marketer’s stocking stuffer

Does your company underestimate the value of your email marketing team’s efforts to increase engagement and site traffic?

To be an email marketer is to be one of the most successful failures in the business world. As an email marketer, your job is to communicate effectively, which means driving revenue and engagement with customers who have given permission or asked to be contacted.

The problem is that most of the people on the email marketer’s “friends list” – the subscribers – don’t respond when the email marketer reaches out. And by “most people,” I mean 80 percent of email recipients – who are undeniably and unequivocally human – do not open or respond to the work produced by the email marketer.

Despite a failure that would get you thrown out of every school in the world, email marketing is an undeniably successful tactic for brands and publishers. Email marketing and email in general is so successful that I dare you to find a brand or a person who doesn’t depend on it.

If email and email marketing did not exist, some venture capitalist would fund some smart person so that they would invent it. The person who invented email should have more wealth than Mark Zuckerberg, but since it’s not proprietary, we all technically own it.


The problem with this model is that the real people that make email marketing work – the email marketing managers at brands and publishers – are not getting paid enough for what they contribute to their companies’ bottom lines. Even worse, email marketers are being asked to nurture one of the most valuable corporate assets – the customer file – and are not getting paid enough for the hard and steady work they perform.

But you, gentle reader, should be most upset about the most egregious compensation error being perpetrated by companies against email marketers: the disincentivization of innovation and risk. In other words, brands and publishers are being too cautious with their email marketing programs and so they do not incentivize their teams to try new things.

Email marketers are still failing forward.  With less than 20 percent engagement rates – all properly benchmarked by annual studies funded by email service providers (ESPs) – email marketers should be compensated for finding ways to leverage their super valuable customer data set in ways that increase engagement.

Yet, that’s not happening very often.  Email marketers are by and large not using machine learning or real-time tools, nor are they leveraging their data to reach consumers in display and social channels.

These things are often successful when they are being done, but are email marketing teams getting the credit?  No.


Ask your email marketing colleagues when the last time they were given a bonus for successfully migrating to another, cheaper ESP. Or ask when they were paid based on the success of the campaigns they executed or for finding and implementing a vendor solution that increased reach, engagement, and site traffic. How can we expect email marketers to adopt new technologies, migrate to a new platform, or try new tactics, if we are not going to cut them in on the upside? If the only thing that email marketers get out of innovation is a longer work day, we are all in trouble.

Email marketers need a better seat at the marketing head table.  They are driving sales and can drive more sales and more engagement, if they are properly compensated for the challenging projects we are asking them to implement.  So while you are “snug in your bed, with dreams of sugar plums in your head,” consider if your email marketing team is actually the Bob Cratchit of your company.

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