One question I often get from prospects is “we’re looking to hire someone for an email role…but we’re not sure what to look for.” Well, there are a few things you need to consider.
I’ve had the great fortune of working with some wonderful email marketers. They have delivered incredible value for our brands and were the leaders of highly effective email marketing campaigns. I’ve also worked with a few who may have been better off in a different line of work.
I’ve seen in the very best email marketers I’ve been fortunate enough to work with, along with some ideas on how to qualify candidates you are interviewing. So, here’s how you find and hire a great email marketing specialist:
They Understand the Value of Repetition
One of the key elements in email marketing success is to grind all the burrs off of your program. The only way to do this is to continuously analyze.
Whether it’s rendering, button placement, messaging, or content, there are small details often overlooked that can send the program off the rails. Also, keep in mind what worked before may not necessarily work now.
The best email marketing specialist will grind until they know every pixel is perfect. This is one reason I love to hire musicians – they understand that in order to become great, you have to practice, practice, practice. That’s why in an interview, considering asking about situations where they’ve had to learn a new skill. If their response doesn’t directly include or allude to “repetition,” they may have difficulty accepting the everyday tasks required to be great.
They’re not Afraid of Being Wrong
Another key to email success is continually testing. If you’re not, it’s often because people are too afraid of being wrong. While school has taught us that being wrong is something to be avoided, the essence of email is to always be challenging the status quo.
Hiring those who love finding new ways of doing things – and aren’t afraid of being wrong – is critical for success. In the interview, ask about situations where they’ve been wrong – how it happened, what they did, how it impacted them. If they wear the “wrongness” too heavily, they may not be able to handle the fact they’re going to be wrong — a lot.
They Love Data
Effective email marketing comes down to two factors – creativity and data. If candidates don’t love data, they won’t be a good email marketer. It’s as simple as that. While you can teach them how to create a pivot table (it’s not really magic…unless you’re linking an external data source…which is actually magic) it’s best if they already know how to build one. This is one reason I love to hire science majors – they understand that data is central.
This is an easy question in an interview. Show them a pivot table. Ask them if they know what it is. Have them edit it. If they start to shake, break out in hives or start talking about brand…they’re not the one.
They have Quick Turnaround
Email marketers work on tight deadlines. Which brings out creativity. NOT having this adeptness is a killer – the person may struggle and can cause more management headaches than they’re worth.
Here’s one of my favorite email stories: Told the guy that there would be an HTML test on Monday. He came in Monday and passed the test. About six months later he told me – “remember that HTML test? I didn’t actually know HTML. I just said I did. Then I bought HTML for Dummies the next day and aced the test on Monday.” Like I said, creative.
They have a Level Head
Email can really test one’s patience because living with continual table flips ((╯°□°)╯︵┻━┻) is not fun.
That’s why some level of grace under pressure is necessary. Also, many “brand” marketers will aggressively come at email people when they don’t get what they want – being able to step back and say, “the data tells us a different story” is truly an art.
For interviews, this is my favorite part – I’m usually the “stress person” – my goal is to totally stress that person out and see how they react. I come in at the end, demand to know why they should be lucky enough to work for our team, demand to know what their worst enemy would say about them. If they lock up, they’re out.
They Pay Attention to Detail
Sending out an email with a typo in the subject line – or a link that doesn’t work – is just about every emailer’s worst nightmare. So make sure that person can spot errors before hitting send.
Also, if you’re not good at detail, make sure you have someone on your team who is, then make them part of the QC process. These interview questions are easy – have a one-page doc with two or three small errors. Ask them to read it over. If they don’t catch them, they’re out.
If – after you point out the errors – they say “I saw them but didn’t want to say anything” they are also out…unless they’re really good at pivot tables.
…they go to Comic-Con
Either they’ve gone (ask what costume), want to go or are excited about the possibility of going. Excitement about Comic-Con seems to be a major indicator of email success. Why? Is it that correlation DOES mean causation in this sense? My take is that email is kinda nerdy but also expresses creativity. Same for Comic-Con.
I would not make this the first characteristic I’d look for but if a candidate is repulsed by Comic-Con, it should be a red flag. Plus, it makes for fun interview questions.
In an interview, ask questions like: “If I could get you into Comic-Con, would you go? Why or why not? If you wore a costume, which one would you wear?” If you get the eye roll…move on.
You want to find people with most of these traits. If you find someone who hits on all seven, hire them. Today. Be sure to pay them well – they’ll be invaluable revenue generators for your company.
Now that you know what it takes to build an effective email marketing team, download Neil Patel’s Guide to Email Marketing below to take your business to the next level: