MailChimp sends billions of emails every month for millions of customers. We’re in the business of helping other businesses grow. And as your own company grows, you may want to focus more on your email marketing strategy. Email is an important part of any marketing plan, and most small businesses and online sellers reach a point where they need 1 or 2 people dedicated to email marketing.
We get a lot of questions from customers about creating an email marketing team:
- How do I know if I need one?
- What kind of people should I hire?
- What will their responsibilities be?
- How should I measure their success?
Here’s all our insight and advice for building an email marketing team, distilled into one guide.
When You Need an In-House Email Marketing Team
If you’re a startup, then the person running your email marketing may also be managing other marketing projects. At first, you might not need someone fully dedicated to email. You may also choose to work with an agency that specializes in email marketing. Ask yourself whether bringing someone in-house would help you meet your business goals. Here are some signs that you may need to hire someone:
Email is driving sales
Many businesses, especially in e-commerce, use email for more than just marketing. If your business relies on email marketing (examples: daily deals, an editorial newsletter, or email courses that directly drive sales), then you may need someone to focus on only email. In those cases, email is a level one priority—and it’s worth your resources.
You’re sending email every day
If your company sends email every day, then you should consider having a dedicated email marketer manage the program. Even though you’re already sending consistently, there’s probably a lot more you could be doing.
Your numbers aren’t increasing
If your business is growing, your email list should be growing too. If you’re not seeing the sales or growth you expect, it could be because your emails aren’t effective. An email expert can help with that. They can create a strategy and monitor the results to make sure your campaigns are improving over time.
Your strategy hasn’t changed
If you only send one kind of email and your strategy hasn’t changed as your business has grown, then you need some fresh ideas and perspectives. An email marketing team should be expected to do more than just send email and measure results—they should generate content and brainstorm creative ideas.
Before hiring a specialist or a dedicated email team, you should clarify your email marketing goals. First and foremost, your efforts should support your business goals. Start with those goals, then decide how email can help you achieve them. Here are some common goals email can help with:
If you’re looking to attract—and sell to—new customers, then you should plan to focus on building your subscriber list and sending campaigns that encourage action. Your email marketing team will need to be nimble and excited about writing compelling marketing copy that's tailored towards driving sales.
Maybe you want to keep your existing customers interested and coming back for more. You’ll want to hire someone who can analyze reports and find out what’s working and what's selling (and what’s not) in order to improve the content with every send. They should also be comfortable with segmentation and targeted sending to make your content more relevant.
If you’re just starting out, you may be focused on brand loyalty and getting your name out there. You should look for an email marketer who is also a content expert. They should know how to write engaging copy and tell a great story.
Skills and experience
Email marketers don’t need to have a background in any particular industry. Here are some attributes and skills they should have:
- Comfortable with writing
- Familiar with design principles
- Marketing experience
- Experience with email service providers
The last part is important, because a lot goes into an effective email campaign. You want to hire someone who knows the ins and outs of sending marketing emails.
Job descriptions and titles
Whether you plan to hire from within your company or bring in a candidate from the outside, be sure to draft a detailed job description. Applicants will need to know exactly what you expect from them.
Here’s a sample job description that you’re welcome to modify and use:
We’re looking for an experienced marketer to manage our email program. You’ll work on email strategy, write and design campaigns, manage our subscriber list, and measure the results of our campaigns. You’ll be expected to help us grow our list, target subscribers with relevant content, create marketing automation series, improve our campaigns with every send, and, most importantly, help us increase sales.
The right candidate has experience sending marketing campaigns through an email service provider. They know about email marketing best practices and spam laws. They’re a multitasker who loves the creative side as well as the analytics of email.
You’ll report to the marketing director and work alongside a team of designers, developers, writers, and marketing managers.
How you structure your email marketing team will depend on your organization. If you’re hiring one email marketer to work with a bigger team, they may be an individual contributor on the marketing team. If you’re hiring a small email marketing team, they could report to a director or VP of marketing. Here are some job titles we’ve seen for email marketing experts:
- Email marketer
- Email marketing manager
- Email specialist
- Email marketing lead
- Email marketing strategist
As you begin the interview process, make sure you ask candidates for examples of their work. Even if they don’t have any examples handy, they should create and send a few test campaigns to give you an idea of their skills. Reviewing examples will be one of the most important parts of your hiring process.
Look for engaging subject lines, consistent branding, clear writing that follows a hierarchy, and calls to action. Also make sure they filled in all the details, including preheader text and footer copy. If a candidate missed any important details in the example they provided you, that’s a red flag. If they provide a well designed, sharply written email that blows you away, then you’ve got a candidate worth talking to.
Remember to ask candidates about the process of creating their example campaigns. What went into it? How many people were involved? Also ask about the results. Did it perform well? Why or why not?
You should also make sure they understand the value of email and have ideas for your email marketing strategy. Here are some example interview questions you could ask:
- What are the core responsibilities of an email marketer?
- How do you think email marketing can help support our company’s goals?
- What can we improve about our existing email marketing campaigns?
- How will you define and tailor email marketing campaigns to our audience?
- How will you use email marketing to increase our company's sales?
- How will you measure the success of our email marketing? What metrics will you look at?
Roles and Responsibilities
Successful email marketers have 3 gifts: they're great communicators, curious researchers, and they know how to manage a database. Before you assemble your team, create a list of roles and responsibilities for this job. Match each skill with the needs of your business, and use this list as a guide as you're interviewing.
Defined responsibilities can also help set expectations. Filling a new position for the first time, a group of rules can provide basic structure for both a manager and their employees.
Here are some of the roles and responsibilities your email marketing team should take on.
Develop an email marketing strategy
Count on your email marketer to help develop a strategy and a plan. Start by discussing your overall goals, and allow time for them to understand the existing approach.
Once they're ready, a new strategy should consider:
- List management
- Types of campaigns
- Send frequency
- How to balance one-time campaigns, triggered messages, and transactional emails
- How and when to assess results
- Short-term and long-term revenue goals
The first outline won't be perfect, and that's okay. Don't expect your email marketing team to get everything right every time. Instead, give them the freedom to adjust quickly, experiment often, and make changes so they’re always getting better.
Keep a calendar
It’s important to think ahead. Challenge your email marketing team to plot a calendar based on release dates, product launches, or customer lifecycles. Depending on your company’s overall schedule, this might be updated weekly, monthly, or quarterly. For a larger business, balance email with social media, search, and display ads to create a unified marketing calendar.
There are plenty of calendar tools out there that can help you manage your email marketing and other content projects. If you’re just getting started, we recommend using a simple Google Calendar. You can add drafts and final campaigns as events, color code them by campaign type, drag and drop them to different times as priorities change, and invite people who are involved in the process. You can also set up alerts to let you know when it’s time to review or send a campaign.
Understand the rules
Your email marketer should take a crash course in related laws and guidelines. In the United States, email senders follow the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Its basic requirements include an explicit opt-in from each contact, physical address in outgoing messages, and visible unsubscribe method.
But along with where you’re sending from, consider the location of your customers. If subscribers live outside of one country, your email marketer should familiarize themselves with additional codes like Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation and the United Kingdom’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.
Keep in mind, your email service provider may have its own set of rules specific to their application, including limits on bounce rates or unsubscribes. Stay on top of each condition, and you’ll limit future issues at crucial times.
They may not be a writer by trade, but an email marketer who can jump in and write can make a big difference. Whether it’s a quick subject line, an executive report highlighting performance, or a blog post explaining tips and tricks, excellent writing skills can save your team time and improve conversions.
Though email marketers certainly don’t need to have a background in writing or a journalism degree, they should be clear and effective communicators who can self-edit.
A great email shares the design of your website. The email marketing team will need to match existing branding while making adjustments and accommodations for email. Depending on your email platform, this could require work in a drag-and-drop editor, beginning with a framework, or coding a responsive template entirely from scratch.
Web design experience is not required for this role, but a familiarity with design principles and best practices is extremely important.
Every newsletter will be seen on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, maybe even someone's wrist. And across every platform, customers will open from different email clients with unique quirks and preferences. Producing an exact replica for every situation is impossible, but it’s the responsibility of your email marketer to check that campaigns are functional on all modern devices.
Specialized tools like Litmus generate screenshots of multiple versions at once. But it might be necessary for more direct testing through a virtual machine or library of physical devices.
Merging email marketing and email analytics is hard work. It's the job of the email marketer to prove that there's value, understand performance, and partner with others for strategy and operation. The email marketing team needs to know why they're doing what they're doing, explain why it's important, and master analytics to define their success.
How involved will/should you be?
Your email marketer will work both independently and together with other members of your organization. As a manager, your involvement may be greater after a new role is created, but longterm involvement will depend specifically on your needs and could change based on the marketing calendar or specific project.
What team should they be on and who should they report to?
The placement of your email marketer depends on the size and structure of your company. In a smaller business, they might report to the head of marketing. In a larger one, it may be the product, content, or CRM managers. As the team grows, multiple email specialists may first report to an email marketing manager.
What Kind of Results to Expect
Basics: opens, clicks, unsubscribes
With an email marketer on board, expect opens and clicks to go up and unsubscribes to decrease. This will come from changes in content, timing, and user segmentation along with improved list management.
Semi-direct: unit sales, transaction size, total revenue
If your company uses email to improve your sales, adding a dedicated email marketer should help move units, raise the average transaction size, and boost total revenue. Some email service providers have specific integrations that let you track your email-based sales directly. If you’re using MailChimp, try our e-commerce features.
Improved direct feedback, increased response on social media
An improved email marketing program should generate a better response from your customers. Avoid a no-reply alias, and allow responses to collect in a real inbox. Monitor reactions and follow social media to see what people are saying.
Lifecycle: longer term customers who do more/spend more
Think longterm. When you bring in an email marketing team, the most important outcomes might not be immediate. Compare your sending habits with the overall performance of your customers. Observe how often they return, what they do when they interact with your business, and how long they stay active. If you’ve collected this data separately, take time to compare it with your email analytics and focus on longer term trends.
Email Marketing Teams in Action
Here are some case studies and examples of email marketing teams that use MailChimp.
Slate’s been reporting politics, news, and culture for 20 years. Product Manager Chris Schieffer explained to us how they divide that content into 11 distinct newsletters.
LoveKnitting, an e-commerce company that sells patterns and supplies to knitters all over the world, uses email to showcase their products and help turn mailing list subscribers into paying customers. Adam Pluck, the team’s acquisition manager, spoke with us to share their success story..
The Atlanta Film Festival’s email team includes an executive director, an artistic director, an operations and marketing director, and a membership and ticketing coordinator. They send newsletters across 4 different categories on the regular.
Mouth Foods knows that email is one of the first experiences many of their customers have with their brand, so their team experiments, tests, and debates until every aspect of a campaign is just right.
We work hard to empower millions of users to design and send gorgeous, useful emails, but we also send a few newsletters of our own. Here’s how our UX department splits up their campaign collaboration between more than half a dozen team members.
Every DoSomething.org campaign includes feedback from a digital engagement manager, a content writer, and a campaign lead. They do tons of testing and brainstorming, too, including coming up with 20 subject lines for every newsletter.
Shopping for glasses online can be stressful, but the team at BonLook has developed a successful, data-driven email strategy that’s allowed them to generate—and retain—customers.
More than 30 different team members read a draft of every Walker Art Center email campaign. From there, they test, send, and repeat.