Email may be the oldest form of digital communication, but it’s currently used by over half of the people in the world, with the population of email users expected to reach more than 4.3 billion by the end of 2023.
In addition, over 293 billion business and personal emails are sent and received every day, a number that will exceed 347 billion by the end of 2023. And if you’re worried that email usage could die out, never fear: 78% of teenagers use email.
Given its ubiquity, email marketing remains a key way to build brand equity, develop relationships with customers, and, of course, grow revenue. In fact, every dollar spent on email marketing can bring in an average return of $38, according to Constant Contact.
That’s why it’s important to hire the right person to manage email marketing at your company. We’ve put together 9 questions that can help you during the hiring process.
1. Which companies currently do email marketing well?
This question helps you set a baseline for the interviewee’s industry knowledge. This shouldn’t be a tough question for them, so if they struggle with it, then you know they’re not up to speed on the latest trends. Just because email has been around since the early 1970s doesn’t mean it’s a static medium.
The word “currently” helps ensure that they won’t cite an email they received from Amazon five years ago. You could follow up by asking for specific examples of email marketing campaigns from the companies they mention, as well as why those campaigns work well.
2. What’s the best email marketing campaign that you’ve created?
This is their chance to show how they apply what they know about the industry and its trends. After all, staying up to speed on their chosen profession is one thing – putting those lessons to use is another.
A good follow-up here could involve asking them to walk through that campaign and point out specifics about the subject line, preview text, tone of the text, and the imagery that was used. Bonus points if they can discuss the intended audience and why the email was geared toward them.
3. How do you develop the voice for your email campaigns?
Anyone who’s thrown off by this question, unless they need you to explain what you mean by “voice,” likely doesn’t understand audience segmentation, which is a red flag. No company should have a “one size fits all” approach to their email marketing, so it’s crucial that the interviewee be able to explain how they target their messaging to different audiences.
Bonus points if they toss in a few literary references. Sure, your email campaigns aren’t the second coming of Hemingway, but it’s never a bad thing if your email marketing manager takes a few cues from literary giants in their work. You’ll also get a sense of what they’ll be like to work with on a daily basis.
4. What are some of the ways you’ve used A/B testing in your campaigns?
Ideally, your new email marketing manager will understand the industry well, know how to target their messaging, and possess the desire to A/B test their content to see what works well. Every email marketer knows that no matter how well they’ve dialed in their campaign, they should try a test to make sure they don’t have any blind spots in their setup.
This is a good open-ended question that should involve not just a simple “We tested this” response but also an explanation of why they chose that variable to test. The interviewee should know that you test one variable at a time, to avoid muddying the results.
Bonus points if they’ve tried some tricky tests, such as seeing what kind of imagery resonates best with an audience.
5. How do you judge the success of your email campaigns?
The ideal email marketing manager should be as comfortable creating a style guide as they are digging through data. Ideally, they look at open and click-through rates, as well as conversion rates on a landing page or other destination. Hopefully, they’re well-versed in more advanced metrics too, such as deliverability rates, mobile vs. desktop email stats, and ROI.
A good follow-up here could involve how they’ve applied past lessons to future campaigns, with specific examples. Bonus points if they can show how they’ve moved the needle on a KPI (key performance indicator) with at least one campaign.
6. How have you used different kinds of emails as part of a customer lifecycle strategy?
Any good email marketing manager understands the difference between triggered, transactional, and promotional emails and how to use them as part of a customer journey. The interviewee should be able to explain how they’ve crafted a strategy that takes a new customer from onboarding to tenured status to a win-back situation where they’ve stopped making purchases or have closed their account.
Bonus points if segmentation is part of their strategy. For example, do they treat customers in one demographic different from those in another? Do they consider how long people have been customers, how much they spend monthly or annually, and how they’ve engaged with emails in the past? Ideally, they have developed parallel customer journeys that take those things into consideration.
7. How do you handle deliverability problems?
Anyone who’s been around the block a few times with email marketing understands that just because you send a message to someone, it doesn’t mean it will actually land in their inbox. It could end up in their spam or promotion folder, or it could simply never arrive.
An interviewee should demonstrate knowledge of sender reputation and how it affects deliverability. Bonus points if they can relate some examples of how they’ve fixed deliverability problems on their job, and extra bonus points if they understand Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKey Authenticated Mail (DKIM), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC), as well as how they use those security standards as part of their deliverability efforts.
They should earn some big bonus points if they’ve used an analytics dashboard, like the one SparkPost offers, to diagnose deliverability problems at a deeper level.
8. How have you reacted to an email marketing campaign that failed?
After giving an interviewee the chance to show off what they know and how they’ve shined in their work, this is a chance to understand how they handle adversity. Every email marketing manager will have failed campaigns, so they should be able to explain what they learned and how they applied those lessons to future campaigns.
Bonus points if their answer has a mix of technical detail, such as how they tackled a deliverability problem, and behavioral insight, such as how they handled the failed campaign within their company.
9. How do you manage your daily work?
Anyone with the word “manager” in their job title should be able to work independently, stay organized, and follow up on their to-do list. They should also be able to demonstrate how they work with their teammates, as well as their cross-functional stakeholders in engineering, product design, and other parts of the company.
Bonus points if they can relate situations where they’ve shown the initiative to tackle certain tasks without being told to do so. Extra bonus points if those tasks were outside their job description and/or their comfort zone.