Hiring an Email Marketing Specialist: Key Skills and Factors to Consider

Email marketing should be a major part of your promotional efforts. Whether it’s email blasts, trigger-based messages, or drip campaigns, it connects you to a huge audience. But if your open rates and conversions are lower than you’d like, it’s time to seek some help.

An email marketing specialist will bring fresh ideas and technical skills to improve everything from content creation to automated workflows—but how do you find the ideal person for the job?

In this post, we’ll explore the key skills and factors to consider when hiring and why you need the right candidate to create effective email marketing campaigns.

The importance of selecting the ideal candidate

When you’re recruiting for a position, it’s essential to find someone who’s the right fit for both the role and your company. An email marketing specialist is no exception—especially as they’re going to be a key part of your digital marketing strategy.

Email marketing is popular because it’s a fast and simple way to reach a lot of people. The number of global email users is expected to reach 4.73 billion in 2026—and it’s proven to be a successful method, with an ROI of $36 for every dollar you spend.

The importance of email marketing is clear, so it’s equally important to choose an expert who’ll help you make the most of it. The ideal email marketing specialist will be passionate about growing your brand by improving engagement and increasing conversions.

These will  likely be among your key business goals, fitting into the overall aims of beating competitors and generating more revenue. A specialist who’s familiar with your industry, product, and audience will have plenty of ideas for meeting these objectives.

The ideal candidate will be able to align campaigns with your key messaging and understand how email integrates with your other marketing strategies and channels. They’ll also have the skills to evaluate email tactics and optimize them further.

Nine key skills for an email marketing specialist

An email marketing specialist is responsible for building and managing email lists, creating content, nurturing leads, and winning back lapsed customers. To do this, they need a certain set of skills, including:

Proficiency in email marketing platforms and tools

You’d expect any specialist to be proficient in the tools of their trade. The ideal candidate should be familiar with a wide range of email marketing platforms so they can get started right away without requiring training. That said, they should also have the ability to learn new systems quickly.

A specialist should be able to identify which software would work best for a particular business, and make recommendations based on their own experience of using marketing platforms and email providers. They’ll be happy to research digital trends and evaluate existing tools.

Knowledge of segmentation and targeting techniques

It’s the job of an email marketing specialist to keep readers engaged at every stage of the customer journey. They should know how to identify the right audience and the best times to target specific groups with personalized and relevant messaging.

They’ll have the skills to create buyer personas and ideal customer profiles and figure out which demographics will respond to certain campaigns. Plus, they can segment existing users based on engagement and remove or retarget inactive subscribers.

Copywriting skills and email design creativity

Some specialists create email content themselves, while others liaise with copywriters and designers. Whether they’re generating the emails or approving them, they’ll need strong copywriting skills and an eye for design.

The aim is to create content that inspires and persuades your audience, which requires a deep understanding of their preferences and pain points. Design skills include the ability to optimize fonts and images as part of a responsive layout that works on all devices.

Understanding of email marketing data and metrics

An email marketing specialist must collect and analyze email data to make sure that workflows and campaigns are on the right track. Key metrics include open and click-through rates, conversions, and unsubscribes, as well as email deliverability rates and ROI.

Reporting skills are also vital to present the results to owners, stakeholders, and colleagues. The specialist should be able to point out problems and opportunities to inform future campaigns, focusing on the metrics that are most relevant to the specific industry or business.

HTML/CSS skills for email template customization

Although not all email marketing platforms require coding, a good specialist will know HTML and CSS. These are the markup and styling languages that determine how an email will display on the recipient’s screen and are often used to customize templates.

This is an important skill, as emails that don’t render properly will alienate readers, which has an impact on the success of a campaign. Email marketers should be aware of which providers support which codes and styles and be able to troubleshoot any issues.

Familiarity with marketing automation and CRM systems

The ability to create and manage automated workflows is a key skill in email marketing, especially when a business wants to scale its efforts. A specialist should be able to set up the system to deliver messages at specific times or when customers take a certain action.

These might be emails triggered by behavior, such as cart abandonment, or a drip campaign where a new subscriber receives a series of welcome emails. Specialists must also leverage your CRM system to generate personalized messages and build relationships with customers.

Proficiency in email marketing regulatory compliance 

To be successful in email marketing, businesses need specialists who are familiar with relevant laws and regulations. These include data collection and anti-spam laws, like GDPR or CAN-SPAM. The expert will need to maintain compliance in all regions or countries where the company operates. It’s not just about ethics­­—there can be heavy fines for not complying.

An email marketing specialist should put protocols in place so that the business always obtains permission from email recipients, includes contact information and a simple way to opt out, and allows people to unsubscribe quickly. They must also be on top of system security.

Strong communication and collaboration skills

Anyone who pursues a career in email marketing should have great communication skills. They need to know how to appeal to various types of readers and use the right kind of language in all situations. This includes welcome messages, news updates, upselling, and retargeting.

But it’s not just about engaging with subscribers. An email marketing expert will need to collaborate with other teams, like social media marketers and accountants. They’ll need to be able to communicate well with stakeholders too.

Strategic planning for email marketing costs and ROI

While the statistics show that email marketing provides a great ROI, that won’t happen without strategic planning. The specialist will have to bring all their organizational and budgeting skills to the table to make sure your business gets the most bang for its buck.

They should start by listing the expected costs of email marketing and figuring out the potential revenue, based on existing and predicted metrics. A key skill is the ability to use spend management software to set and track a budget and avoid overspending.

Five factors to consider when hiring

Okay, so we now know the main skills an email marketing specialist should possess. You can list these when you publish a job description. But what else do you need to think about before hiring someone?

Determine a realistic salary package for the role

This is the tricky part. Should you base the salary offer on industry benchmarks or a specific candidate’s experience? You have to be competitive to attract the best talent, which typically means a benefits package and flexible working options.

The salary range also depends on whether you want a full-time employee, a freelancer, or an agency hire. Remember, the key word is “specialist”, so be prepared to pay more for an expert than you would for a mid-level role.

Analyze potential ROI to justify hiring costs

Before you advertise, try to work out the potential ROI of an email marketing specialist. Will they generate enough revenue to justify the costs? The long-term cost for a full-time employee will be higher, but that person will develop complete familiarity with your brand and values.

While you’re in recruitment mode, it’s a good time to implement time and expense management software if you haven’t already. This will help you track the ongoing ROI of a specialist, as well as bring financial efficiency to your team.

Consider expenses for email marketing tools

You can’t expect your new specialist to do their best work with outdated or substandard tools. The whole idea is to boost your digital marketing efforts, so expect to invest in upgraded software to make that happen.

You can either research tools before you start recruiting, or involve your new hire in the decision—they’re the expert, after all! Either way, make sure you leave enough leeway in your budget for this.

Look into the candidate’s prior experience 

While many email marketing skills and principles are transferable, it’s worth seeking a candidate with previous experience in your niche. Certain industries require specific marketing skills, such as promoting SaaS products.

Freelancers tend to have experience with a diverse range of clients, but you might prefer someone who’s focused solely on your sector previously. The main thing is that the specialist has a proven track record of successful email marketing campaigns.

Ask about the hiree’s openness to new tools and technologies

Check that the specialist is flexible when it comes to using new tech, rather than someone who’s attached to a particular tool or way of working. Are they happy to undergo training if needed or to train others?

They should be able to use their expertise to research tools and technologies on your behalf and come up with ideas for optimizing processes. The ideal candidate will enjoy learning about new industry trends and best practices in email marketing.

Final thoughts

An email marketing specialist needs great interpersonal skills, proficiency with email automation software, and the ability to evaluate campaign performance. They should be experienced in all aspects of their specialism and full of ideas for boosting conversion rates.

Follow the tips above, and you should find the perfect professional to orchestrate your email marketing strategy and keep your readers engaged.