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11 Skills You Need to Become a Stellar Email Marketing Manager

May 19, 2022

What makes a successful email marketing manager? 

This is an important question for hiring managers and email marketing professionals that want to advance their careers by making the leap into a managerial position, and addressing it correctly is key to reach the right answer. 

Also, there are two sides to the answer: Skills, and cultural fitness. The latter is harder to standardize, as company cultures tend to be unique and difficult to replicate. In terms of culture, what’s acceptable in a company may not be so in another company.  

Skills, on the other hand, are universal, and represent the main aspect to look at when looking for a stellar email marketing manager.  

In this article, we’ll provide you with a quick overview of the email marketing manager position, and then focus on the top skills to look for in an email marketing manager in 2022. 

Read on before posting (or applying to) that job on LinkedIn! 

What does an email marketing manager do? A brief description of the role

Email marketing managers are responsible for creating, planning, and executing an organization’s email marketing strategies. 

The main duties of an email marketing manager include running email campaigns, managing email databases, creating, growing and segmenting email lists, establishing performance indicators, and analyzing and reporting on results.

In addition to this, an email marketing manager must have a solid understanding of best design practices, copywriting and copy editing, lead generation strategies, automation, and A/B testing. 

As you may have noticed, we’re listing down a mix of responsibilities, duties, and skills. 

This is useful to understand the generalities of the role, but doesn’t paint the full picture of what we’re after here: The key skills an email marketing manager must have to excel at the role, which you’ll find in the following section. 

11 must-have skills of an email marketing manager

Like other management roles, the email marketing manager one is hybrid. 

On one hand, it requires a series of skills that are more generalistic in nature, such as knowing how to manage multiple projects at once. 

On the other hand, the role demands skills that are directly related to email marketing, like segmentation and email address validation. At the same time, there are many sub-skills that need to be addressed too.

Below you’ll find the comprehensive list of skills and sub-skills that will help you recognize the right fit for an email marketing manager role on the spot. 

1. Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking is one of the cornerstones of management, and something no successful email marketing manager can do without. But how does it apply to the role? 

As usual, it depends on the situation: An early-startup manager won’t be facing the same challenges as one working at a Fortune 500 company. 

Strategy-wise, the first thing to look for in a professional is the ability to accurately recognize and evaluate the context. After this, the email marketing manager will need to define the right strategy to grow email lists, create campaigns, ensure deliverability and attain results

Needless to say, this is not where strategy ends. 

In order to plan accordingly, the email marketing manager must be fully aware of sales funnels and customer journeys, available resources (tools, people, budget), and of the processes that will help reach different goals (such as open rates, conversions, or brand awareness levels). 

2. Research skills

Solid research skills are instrumental in reducing the risk profile of campaigns by providing a data-driven framework of what works.

This applies to virtually every element in a campaign: From using color psychology to pick the best colors for a campaign to studying what competitors are doing, or analyzing factors that affect deliverability, open rates, and conversions. 

If you come across someone with great research skills and a sense of opportunity, you’ll be looking at a (potentially) excellent manager to take over.

3. Project management

At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, no candidate for a management position will be able to excel at the job without being a superb project manager.

This includes knowing how project management tools work, how to allocate resources, how to set up priorities and reasonable deadlines, and how to involve team members at all levels in their best capacity. 

When looking for an email marketing manager, it’s always better to have a sound project manager in charge than, say, someone with killer copywriting skills; the first will move projects forward every single time, while the second will only shine at a single aspect of email marketing. 

4. Communication

At its core, email marketing is about communicating something to someone: Usually, a benefit, a promotion, the launch of a new product, and so on.

But that’s not all. The ideal email marketing manager has to be a superior communicator in three different ways: 

First, to guarantee that the target audiences open the emails, read them, and act in line with the campaign’s goals. 

Second, to bring up the best of their teams without leaving room for any kind of guesswork. 

And third, to report in a clear, concise way about the results generated by the team and campaigns.

A great email marketing manager never uses too many or too little words; it always uses the necessary words at every single step of the way.

5. Martech

Here’s when things start to get more interesting. Nowadays, marketers have thousands of tech products to get the job done. 

The email marketing field alone brims with martech alternatives as well: These range from well-known platforms like Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign to more specific offerings like Klaviyo, ConvertKit, and SendPulse. 

If you’re hiring, the advice here is simple: Check which martech product the candidate dominates, and ask about the reasons, pros, and cons of using it.

From the answers you’ll be able to tell whether the candidate has the necessary knowledge and flexibility to leverage the power of martech tools, learn about new ones, and eventually be able to replace what’s already there for better alternatives. 

If you’re looking to get hired as an email marketing manager, consider that having proficiency in one tool may not be as important as having flexibility to work with different tools, and the ability to learn new interfaces quickly.

6. List management and segmentation

List management and target audience segmentation is, without a doubt, one of the most relevant skills an email marketing manager can have. 

The professional in charge must have a deep understanding of what segmentation is, why cohorts matter, and how to create cohorts based on relevant factors (and yes, this goes beyond basic demographic markers). 

Also, it’s vital to understand how many lists are needed, for what, and for how long. Some lists will be useful for specific, short-lived campaigns, while others will become the backbone of the email marketing program for years to come. 

Finally, the email marketing manager must know how to keep lists organized and healthy; familiarity with spreadsheets, email marketing platforms, and email address validation tools is usually a must rather than a plus when it comes to evaluating  segmentation-related skills.

7. Data and analytics

There’s more than open rates and conversions to the email marketing role. Metrics like clickthrough (CTR), bounce, list growth, forwarding, and return on investment are just as important to drive a strategy forward. 

Naturally, a professional email marketing manager is comfortable around data, and knows how to collect, sort, and present reliable data to different audiences. 

This also includes being proficient in analytics tools, automated reporting, and data cleansing - a good example is knowing how to act upon different data sets based on potential conditioning factors. 

8. Optimization

This skill is the first byproduct of knowing how to work with data; you can’t expect to optimize if you don’t factually understand what needs to be optimized.

A/B testing, experiments, and avoiding assumptions are good and necessary approaches to optimization that an email marketing manager must control in order to perform. 

9. Conversion copywriting and editing

Contrary to popular belief, conversion copywriting is different from other writing skills (such as content writing). 

As a communicator and strategist, the email marketing manager must excel at recognizing the different tones and words that convert. Remember, you don’t need a manager to do all the writing - that’s the copywriter’s job - but to know what works, and to be able to edit when needed.  

Proficient email marketing managers don’t spend hours staring at a blank page looking for the right words; instead, they spend minutes looking at a bit of copy to tell whether it’s what’s required for a campaign or not.

10. Design thinking

Knowledge of best design practices is not a matter of taste, but of formation and experience. 

Your ideal manager is comfortable with design tools, and is knowledgeable in aspects like how to present different elements for a flawless omnichannel experience, or how to apply the psychology of color to convert better.

11. Automation

There are many reasons why email marketing automation is a key skill to have these days. 

First of all, most products used in email marketing support automation - either natively, or via third-party automation tools like Make

And truth be told, there are dozens of repetitive tasks that can be easily automated, such as adding new contacts to lists, creating campaigns, and getting reports from campaigns. 

A resourceful email marketing manager must be able to deploy automated workflows across the team to ramp up productivity, save resources, and improve overall efficiency and results. 

In addition to this, it’s important to see automation as a holistic approach to improving company processes. 

This means that the ideal candidate has to show an automation-driven mindset to improve not only what’s being done in the email marketing team, but also in other areas that influence the department (such as lead generation and sales). 

Final thoughts: With the right skillset, everybody wins

The reasons why companies are hiring email marketing managers, and why people are looking to grow their careers in this direction are fairly straightforward.

First, email marketing remains a vital part of doing business; it’s a unique (and very effective) way to create lasting relationships that translate into increased revenue and better positioning. 

Second, professionals in this field make a decent amount of money. The average salary for an email marketing manager in the US in 2022 is $76,796, a figure that is 38% higher than the average national salary

Third and last, a managerial position in email marketing can be fun for the right candidate, as it combines strategy and creativity in equal doses. There aren’t many jobs where you can jump from writing a punchy headline to analyzing a small dataset with campaign results, and many professionals place a lot of value in these. 

Understanding the required skills for the position you’re getting into or hiring for is crucial - and hopefully, easier after reading this article. 


Martin Etchegaray

Content Manager and Senior Editor at Make. I enjoy writing and reading about history, science, and tech.

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