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Email marketers: Keep growing, but also take the time to teach others

Email marketing has a high burnout rate so to advance our industry, we must take more responsibility to educate our successors.

It has been a heck of a year for email marketers – not just professionally but for the industry at large. I’ve worked with an amazing collection of clients from disparate industries, from a direct-mail firm to a massive health care business to start-ups and established businesses.

They all have one thing in common: a continuing, constant yearning to get better at email for their companies and their customers. This gives me hope for 2020, not just in the email space but in our professions as marketers.

I’m closing the books on the year with two thoughts.

1. Thank you for being a marketer!

This year, I’ve spoken with hundreds of marketers across the United States. What continues to impress me is that we are a dedicated, driven and insightful group of people. 

Whether you’re in email or social media, direct marketing or programmatic, a trainee or the CMO, pat yourself or a fellow marketer on the back for the life direction you chose.

It’s not easy being a marketer. We’re all dedicated to advancing our companies’ goals and brands and that takes a special kind of person. You can create something great, like an amazing abandoned-cart program, a tweet that goes viral beyond expectations or a video that elicits compliments from your CMO.

And then the next time you send an email campaign, you misspell the subject line. You’re down one day, then up the next when you see that the flawed campaign generated 20% more revenue than you expected.

You can feel proud of the job you’re doing. Keep doing it, and you will keep getting better at it.

I’m not all “email’s great, rah, rah, rah” here. We all have to check ourselves no matter where we are in the corporate structure. We need to keep learning, whether it’s by finding a podcast that inspires us, a conference that connects us to each other, or an article with new viewpoints.

Don’t go into this thinking you need to find the time to improve your skills. You have to make the time to learn. The only way you’ll do better is to admit you have to learn from others.

And that leads me to my second thought.

2. Share what you learned with those who come after you

That’s one of the things that makes a great marketer: the willingness to pass on what you’ve learned to people whose shoes you were in not too long ago.

Teach others what made you successful and what you failed at. One thing I do as a fractional CMO is to point my clients in the right direction so they don’t keep making the same mistakes or find themselves going down the wrong path. That’s all done by teaching.

This isn’t just about personal gain or helping your company grow. Everything you do to educate yourself and push harder to do email better also helps our industry grow.

I don’t have hard data to prove this, but I’ve believed for a long time that email has not innovated as fast as other channels because an email marketer’s lifespan in the job is one to three years. When people leave those front-line marketer positions, they’re ready to get out and move on to another company or take another position within the company.

When they move on, all that institutional knowledge gets lost. That means our industry resets itself every one to three years.

I can’t blame anybody for getting into email and then aspiring to greatness. It’s a responsibility to our craft and to the industry at large for email marketers to take on more responsibility and assume authority.

Congratulations if you just landed a new job. But, do one thing before you pop that farewell champagne or head out to your going-away party: Document everything!

Write down which tests worked, what you learned and how you used it. What shortcuts, workarounds and tricks have you learned about working with your various marketing platforms? What do they need to know that they won’t learn from the employee handbook?

Start a master document called “Mentorship,” and write things down as they occur to you. This is not a long, drawn-out report or an FAQ. Think of it like a page full of tweets or Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat posts where you communicate what you’ve learned, the goals you achieved and anything else that will help your successors get up to speed quickly.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Nobody did this for me. If I had to learn everything on the job, so should they.” Now, remember your first six months on the job. How scared were you to push the “Send” button on your early email campaigns? How scared are you still?

If you’re staying at your company but moving into a new job, offer to become a mentor to your successor. Help them as needed but also give them space to make their own successes.

When we all band together, we’ll accelerate the learning curve.

Wrapping up

In previous Marketing Land articles, I have urged you to celebrate your successes with your team. This time of year, email is a slog. You’re in a fierce battle for the success of your program and the goals you have achieved.

We’re close to the end now, but don’t forget to encourage everyone you work with. Go out for a drink after work or for dinner. Celebrate all the good things that happened in 2019, and let your ideas for 2020 creep in during your moments of rest.

You can do it. I believe in you!

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