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Email Marketing Specialist: Key Responsibilities & How to Get Started

What an Email Marketer Does, How Much They Earn & How to Get Started

And… a whole lot more emails are sent every day (in the hundreds of billions).

While plenty of those are personal emails, there are billions of commercial emails being sent out non-stop.

Somebody has to be sending those emails, right?

Well, that person is an email marketing specialist.

Email marketing is a crucial piece to any modern business’ digital marketing strategy, alongside social media, content marketing, SEO, and paid ads.

It’s a major ROI booster that every business should be leveraging to convert prospects into customers and build a loyal customer base.

But, an email marketing strategy will come to nothing without an email marketing specialist. These are experts in email who understand the ins and outs of email to drive conversions, engage audiences, and fortify their brand.

In this article, we’ll break down the role of email marketing specialists: what they do, the skills they possess, the tools they use, how much they earn, and how you can become one yourself.

Keep reading to find out if this is the right path for you!

What Is an Email Marketing Specialist?

Email Marketing Specialist: Key Responsibilities & How to Get Started

An email marketing specialist is simply a digital marketer with a focus on email marketing.

They focus on building email lists, creating email campaigns, nurturing leads, and driving sales with the written word.

Email marketing specialists work within email software to design emails, send out newsletters, set up automated, trigger-based emails, and manage all email operations.

The goal of email marketing specialists can vary, depending on the business. However, their main functionality is to communicate often in order to build a thriving relationship with audiences.

When an email marketing specialist is successful, there should be a loyal and engaged group of people who will read, click on, and buy anything you have to say or sell.

What Does an Email Marketing Specialist Do?

Email Marketing Specialist: Key Responsibilities & How to Get Started

Now that you have a basic overview of what an email marketing specialist is, let’s break down what they actually do in the day-to-day.

Email marketing specialists typically work as a part of a marketing team. The email marketer’s job is often to increase brand awareness and improve retention by sending out relevant emails on a regular basis.

These inbox wizards often have to possess two main branches of skills: creative and technical. However, with advancements in email marketing tools like beehiiv, the software is doing a lot of the heavy lifting with the technical aspects of the job.

Modern email platforms allow email marketing specialists to create, send, and manage emails using ready-made templates and simple email editors while offering plenty of easy segmentation and personalization features.

Key Responsibilities 

Curious about the specific tasks an email marketer does daily? Here are some of the most common:

  • Designing and creating email campaigns to meet marketing objectives

  • Leveraging email marketing software (i.e. beehiiv)

  • Ensuring design of emails are optimized and mobile-friendly

  • Starting, growing, and cleaning email lists

  • Keeping data up to date within their email platform

  • Copywriting and editing

  • Creating custom code within emails

  • Conducting market research to understand the audience more

  • Researching competitors to optimize strategies

  • Practicing list segmentation

  • Conducting A/B (split) tests to improve campaigns

  • Creating automated, trigger-based email flows to nurture readers automatically

  • Tracking key metrics like open rates, click rates, unsubscribes, and list growth

  • Creating email sign up forms to grow email lists

  • Creating lead magnets and other assets to provide value to audiences

  • Regularly cleaning email lists to ensure good deliverability

  • Creating progress reports based on specific metrics, benchmarks, and goals

  • Reporting campaign results and other documents to managerial or ownership teams

Email Marketing Specialist: Key Responsibilities & How to Get Started

Working Solo vs. Within a Team

The specific role an email marketing specialist plays will vary from business to business. 

Email marketing specialists may be hired to do everything: from copywriting to graphic design to coding to managing and growing email lists.

Or, they could be hired to do a specific aspect of email marketing as part of a team, like only writing the copy for the emails before handing them off to a graphic designer to make them come to life.

In many cases, an email marketing specialist will actually wear several other digital marketing hats, with email just being one of their many jobs. For instance, they may also be running the entire social media marketing, paid ads, and SEO, on top of email.

Since email marketing is so intertwined with these other digital channels, there is often crossover that takes place, whether the email specialist is also wearing these other hats, or they’re simply meeting with other team members regularly to discuss their overall strategy and collaborate on campaigns.

Why Listen to Me? I’ve managed two email newsletters over the years including one with 100,000 subscribers and one with 30,000. I currently run a digital media business, Hockey Question, that gets over 50,000 visits per month.

What Kind of Value Do Email Marketing Specialists Provide?

Email Marketing Specialist: Key Responsibilities & How to Get Started

So, just how valuable is the work that email marketing specialists do?

While some aspects of the result of email marketing are hard to quantify, there are some that are simple. Monetization is one of the key areas we see the value of email.

That means for every $1 you invest in email marketing, you should expect $36 in return.

For example, if you invest $1,000 into email marketing, you could reasonably expect about $36,000 in return.

If you’re looking to generate sales (and do so on a recurring basis), then email is one of the best channels you can use.

So, why does email marketing provide business owners with such a high return?

The main reason is personalization.

Unlike paid ads, SEO, or social media marketing, email marketing is a communication channel for people who have specifically opted-in to hear more from you. While social media has some level of relevancy, not everyone who sees a social media post is a follower of the handle.

Email is different.

Email requires direct consent.

You can’t just email blast a bunch of random people. That’s a quick way to destroy your deliverability and ruin your sender reputation.

Instead, because email marketing hinges completely on a direct choice to opt-in to marketing messages, the communication is much more relevant and personal to the recipient.

Additionally, with reliable email software, you can further segment your audience into sub-sections, splitting them by specific interests, demographics, or behaviors. This further increases your ability to be personal with your messaging.

With highly targeted email campaigns, you’ll be able to reach people better than a random surprise advertisement someone sees when they turn on their phone and head to Instagram or Google. 

Think of it like a shotgun vs. a sniper approach. The sniper is much more likely to hit since they’re taking the time to carefully aim at their target.

The result of increased personalization and relevance is that people will actually want to open your emails. They’ll want to see what you have to say. And, they’ll want to buy what you’re selling.

With a focus on building relationships with audiences, companies can ensure they create lifelong customers by leveraging an email marketing specialist.

How to Become an Email Marketing Specialist (Step-by-Step)

Email Marketing Specialist: Key Responsibilities & How to Get Started

If you’re thinking of becoming an email marketing specialist, here’s a simple step-by-step approach you can take to get started:

1. Consider College

First off, if you want to become an expert email marketer, you need to learn how to do it first. So, you'll have to get educated on it. The traditional path is to go to college, ideally with a major in marketing. You can get a degree or a diploma. Alternatively, you could major in business, advertising, or communications.

The primary skill you need to be a great email marketing specialist is marketing. Essentially, college should be looked at as a starting point to help you acquire a marketing mindset more than anything else. 

The second benefit college offers is an advantage when applying for jobs. While a degree doesn’t hold quite the same level of power it used to in the job marketplace, it still will give someone an upper hand more often than not.

Just keep in mind that you don’t need to go to college to learn how email marketing works and become an email marketing specialist. But, you’ll want to at least make sure you follow the next step if you plan on getting hired without a degree.

2. Get Certified

Next, you should get an email marketing certification, even if you went to college and have a degree. 

The reason is college doesn’t typically offer specific training on email marketing. There aren’t usually entire programs dedicated to learning and mastering it. You may get glimpses of it here and there, but there it’s nearly impossible to find a complete email marketing mastery curriculum anywhere.

While certification (like college) is not a requirement to become an email marketing specialist, it comes with its advantages. I would even argue that an email marketing certification holds more value than a college degree if you’re looking to become an email marketing specialist.

There are plenty of online certification programs for email marketing. Here are some of the best options:

Udemy also has plenty of low-cost email marketing courses. And, for non-certification education, one of the best places to spend your time is YouTube.

In addition to taking email marketing courses, you may want to consider taking courses on specific email marketing skills like copywriting, graphic design, marketing analytics, or coding.

3. Create a Portfolio

Next up, it’s time to put your education to the test and get to work.

Whether you’re trying to get hired as a full-time email marketing specialist, start your own email marketing agency, or simply freelance as a solopreneur, you’ll need to have a portfolio. 

A portfolio is 100 times more important than a degree or certificate. The reason? It shows you that you don’t just have head knowledge. You have practical proof that you know what you’re doing.

The question is, how do you get a portfolio when you don’t have a client? And how do you get a client without a portfolio? It’s kind of an endless circle, right?


You can make your own portfolio.

There are two ways you can do this:

1. Offer your services for free in exchange for a portfolio piece and a testimonial. 

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Do the work for free for someone, get screenshots of your emails (and the results), and get a written review you can use to get a “real” paying client. 

2. Hire yourself.

This one needs a bit more explaining. If you want to build a portfolio fast, then the quickest way is to hire yourself as an email marketing specialist. How? You can start your own business and then start sending emails (easier said than done).

Or… you can start your own newsletter.

With beehiiv, you can launch your own newsletter in minutes. There’s no faster way to get practical, hands-on experience as an email marketing specialist than by starting your own newsletter.

By building your own newsletter from the ground up, you’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of email marketing so when you eventually get hired to do it for someone else, you’ll know exactly what you’re doing.

Once you’ve sent out a few newsletters, take screenshots of your emails and your results, and present them to potential clients.

4. Start Pitching Business Owners

Email Marketing Specialist: Key Responsibilities & How to Get Started

Now that you’ve got your degree, your certifications, and your working portfolio, you’re ready to start pitching potential clients.

Before you start applying to any and every job, there are a few considerations you want to keep in mind:

  • E-commerce or non-e-commerce

  • The industry

  • The business size

  • Whether you’ll be committed full-time to one company

  • Or you’ll freelance as a contractor with different clients at once

Additionally, you’ll want to figure out how much you’ll charge (more on that in the next section).

So, where will you find people to pitch?

There are hundreds of different job boards online. Plus, there are a handful of reputable freelance sites like UpWork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com, and Guru. You can also find clients through social media.

Another option is to start calling up local businesses in your area or going door-to-door to pitch your services. In many cases, your willingness to show up in real life and show that you have some personality will help offset a lack of experience as an email marketer.

How Much Do Email Marketing Specialists Earn?

Email Marketing Specialist: Key Responsibilities & How to Get Started

So, what kind of money can you earn as an email marketing specialist?

According to Comparably, email marketing specialists salaries range from $29,000 to $120,000.

The average salary is $65,000. 

The best part is that the sky's the limit for an email marketer. Working at a smaller company as a part-time email marketer will land you in the lower range.

But, there are three primary ways to earn more as an email marketer:

  • Focus on high-paying industries (i.e. pitch businesses that bring in plenty of revenue)

  • Start your own email marketing agency with a handful of clients

  • Run your own newsletter and monetize with premium sponsors

Leverage the Right Tool as an Email Marketing Specialist

Email Marketing Specialist: Key Responsibilities & How to Get Started

One of the most important aspects of an email marketing specialist’s job is the software they use.

Every email marketer has to use an email platform to manage their operations. But, not all tools are created equal. If you want to succeed as an email specialist, you need to be able to leverage the right technology.

Enter beehiiv.

beehiiv is an intuitive email newsletter platform equipped with a variety of easy-to-use tools to build an audience, build beautiful newsletters, and track your progress.

The platform is an all-in-one solution email marketing specialists can use to manage their entire email marketing operations, from design to list-building, to segmentation, and analytics tracking.

Built by the same team that launched and scaled the Morning Brew newsletter to millions of subscribers, beehiiv is the newsletter platform built for growth.

Start your career as an email marketing specialist on the right foot with a creator-friendly tool like beehiiv. Get started for free today (no credit card required).

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