3 Things I Wish I Learned about Email Marketing in College
Last month I celebrated my fourth year at Webbula and being in the workforce after graduating from university in the Fall of 2017.
I've had many conversations about how I ended up in this space throughout the last four years. My answer, like most of you, is I just fell into it.
I thought email was as simple as a push of a send button. I had no idea there was an industry filled with dedicated people to code, design, and analyze the emails organizations send out. I didn’t know there were specific businesses built to send emails, monitor deliverability, or clean your email lists.
It's not very common for people to find their way to the email industry directly out of university, nor do people grow up dreaming about working in this space. The reason is that no one knows about this hidden gem of an industry.
And why is that?
Why isn't email taught in universities yet?
Although I wouldn’t change a thing about my path so far, I still feel that if I would have had some sort of a basic knowledge of the email industry, it could have helped me in my first year.
Here are the things I wish my sophomore year self knew when she was trying to figure out what direction to go with her career.
1. I wish they had a course on email marketing!
When I attended university, email marketing was not a part of our curriculum. Our marketing courses were filled with extremely helpful real-world topics such as market research and personal selling, but I found there wasn't a specific class for digital marketing. In fact, my junior year of college was the first time they introduced us to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
When I was a sophomore, I was searching for a career that would allow me to use my creative abilities to help a company reach its business goals. A general digital marketing class would have introduced me to all of the marketing channels available. It would have given me a basis of knowledge to help me narrow and home in on a career focus.
I reached out to Jeanne Jennings, General Manager of Only Influencers and also an Adjunct Professor of Digital Marketing in the graduate school at Georgetown University to get her opinion on whether email marketing is worth adding to the curriculum.
"While personally, I love the idea of an undergraduate course focused on email marketing, I'm not sure there would be enough demand at most schools to sustain it. But I wonder how many colleges or universities today have a broader digital marketing course like the one I teach in the graduate school at Georgetown University.
"We go at a fast pace in my course, covering all the digital marketing channels and platforms. My goal is to give the students a feel for what it's like to work as a marketer in each channel, as well as help them identify channels they are passionate about and might want to pursue as a career.
"One of the highlights of the course are the guest speakers I bring in from the industry, and I know that some students have gotten jobs as a result of connecting with them on LinkedIn. Maybe something like this would (a) give undergraduates a feel for email and the other channels, and (b) facilitate internships which would provide skills as well as a career direction."
2. I wish I knew the number of opportunities available for everyone in email marketing.
College is the time to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. Some know exactly what they want to do on day one, others figure it out as they go on in their career, but college is a place to explore based on each students’ unique interests.
In my opinion, email marketing is the perfect industry for almost everyone interested in a marketing career. It's a great place to start, no matter your marketing career goals or where you are in your marketing career. It can act as a steppingstone to other digital marketing channels and it’s never too late to join the email marketing industry. Wherever you are, if you enjoy coding, design, data analysis, deliverability, or content like I do, there is a job for you!
"Rather than focusing on the skills that you develop as a practitioner of email marketing, I wish folks would focus on the opportunity that it delivers. There's a tendency that people think email marketing is old fashion, rather than thinking that, people should focus on the fact that it is the easiest point of entry in the digital marketing space for someone with little experience." - Dela Quist, CIO Alchemy Worx
3. I wish there had been email marketing internships available.
I reached out to my college Marketing professor for her thoughts on if email marketing would be useful in today's class load and here's what she said, "Most marketing degree programs have so many foundational topics to cover such as marketing research, marketing analytics, and consumer behavior so it is difficult to develop courses in the wide array of "niche" marketing specialty areas - such as email marketing. I would encourage students to gain expertise by completing internships in these areas." - Dr. Mary Beth Pinto, Discipline Lead, Marketing Professor at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.
To Dr. Pinto’s point, if universities don’t have enough demand to sustain having an entire course, then internships are another great option. Instead of relying on students to find these internships, universities could team up with businesses in the email space, like ESPs, to help place students in an appropriate internship.
Even better? Universities could combine points one and three. A general digital marketing class would be an excellent way to cover more niche digital marketing channels, including email marketing. Paired with an internship at an ESP or email marketing agency, students would enter the marketing workforce with a basic knowledge and skill set that would set them up for success.
Throughout the past four years, I've had plenty of conversations with folks who wished they had known about email marketing when they were in school. After speaking with professors and other email experts, I understand that the demand may not be there for an entire course, but email marketing is a great steppingstone for anyone wanting to enter the digital marketing world. Whether you find it right out of college or at a different time in your career, there are opportunities for everyone in this hidden gem of an industry.
How do we spread the word?