You Didn’t Hear It from Me…What Every Female Email Marketer Wish You Knew
As the tech industry takes a step forward in actively recruiting more female talent, it often takes two steps back when we hear about Ellen Pao’s lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins or Susan Fowler’s blog post about her very strange year at UBER. While they sympathize and often empathize with these all too common tech stories, women in email marketing often find themselves caught in the middle of this discussion because they straddle the line between marketing and IT. They need to be both technical and creative to effectively do their jobs, and that becomes even more daunting if they have executive management who have little knowledge about their role or who aren’t as supportive as they could be.
As someone who has been an Email Marketer for almost 20 years, is female and a senior executive, I am often asked to be a mentor to other women in email marketing. One consistent theme I hear is that they aren’t always heard by their executives or management even though many are highly educated and bring a great deal to the table. Since some are still struggling to find the confidence to even have a seat at the table, I have started asking “What is your biggest pain point?” and then help solve for that. Interestingly enough, the answers are often have a common thread.
Here’s what they’ve said:
Check your data (and ego) at the door
One of the biggest complaints is that there are too many places to hold data. Another is that there are too many systems that are not connected or were never set up. This level of fragmentation means that it is hard to segment the audience, and it makes personalization challenging. It also limits email marketers just to providing basic reporting, which devalues what they were hired to do. There’s not the opportunity to get to the real business intelligence that will help push the needle and move the business forward. Women email marketers know how important it is to evaluate your tech stack as a team, so that you can really know the power of what has been purchased and take advantage of it. Their main challenge comes from balancing the objectives of the IT team which tend to be primarily male and the marketing team which tend to be primarily female. Female email marketers are doing a delicate dance between different teams, different goals, different agendas, different data sources and different systems. While we’re not looking for a kumbaya data moment, it helps us do our jobs when everyone is aligned. The mentality of “Not my monkey, not my circus” doesn’t exist for females in email marketing. We often find that we become the circus’ ringleader, whether we like it or not.
It’s not high school, but we’re still babysitting and fighting off mean girls
Women are nurturers by nature. It’s in our DNA to support and encourage. However, we often find that trait is taken advantage of in a business setting. Too many times, we find ourselves carrying the load of other team members for the sake of the team. We don’t want the teamy to look bad to the executive management or shareholders, so we chase down others internally and externally to make sure their jobs are done correctly, so that we can complete ours. In addition, we are also silently biting our tongues if any female co-worker seemingly tries to sabotage our work, because we don’t want our male leadership to blow it off as just a “cat fight”. While the topic of women in the tech industry has been exhausted, many of us battle these silent challenges every day when we all we want is to just want to get our job done and do it right. Women in email marketing need leadership support. One way to do that is to make sure that each team member understands their individual tasks and then hold them accountable, while helping us grow in our role.
I need mentorship and guidance on my career path
Even though email marketing is one of the oldest digital marketing disciplines, it’s still a new career path that blends the art of marketing with the science of technology. There is a distinct lack of curriculum roadmaps and defined advancement levels in Email Marketing. There’s more to email marketing than just writing some copy, coding out the HTML and blasting your database. There are so many advanced levels of marketing automation, segmentation, personalization and reporting to master that often resources (or lack thereof) determine our education and next steps. When corporations don’t know where to put Email Marketers in their org chart - (does it fall under marketing, digital marketing, IT?), it impacts the professional growth and development of your team members. One of the questions that I often see is “should I go back and get an advanced degree?”, and that’s a hard question to answer since most of us “Experts” fell into the industry at the right time. Female email marketers need guidance on how to develop professionally. They may be less vocal about their hunger, but they are craving advance knowledge and truly want to perfect their craft. They are looking to their management to provide direction for their future, and to show the rest of the organization just how important email marketing is.
Not just the Email Girl
Females in Email Marketing are highly educated, bright and ambitious. They’re not just the “email girl”, and want to be valued for what their contribution brings to the organization. In my early 30s, a Creative Director dubbed me the “Media Chick”, so everyone proceeded to refer to me that way even though I was actually the Vice-President of Media Innovation. Thinking that it’s ‘just the email girl” is not only degrading, but it’s devaluing the true power of email marketing for an organization. Because sending email is inexpensive compared to other paid marketing venues, it is common for the email marketing budget to be low-balled. This oftent translates to the actual email marketer being valued lower than other marketing team members internally as well. Email marketing deserves to be given a healthy budget to deliver the proper punch. Women in email marketing are just as smart and diligent as their other marketing counterparts, and deserve to be respected based on their role and the value that they bring to the organization.
What females in email marketing really want you to know is that it’s irrelevant that they are female. At the root level, they share the same challenges that their male counterparts do. They are asked to defend email not being dead while at the same time providing a regression analysis for the latest leadership dashboard. Email marketers are here to solve business problems, and truly care about your business. They need promises to be kept and they need resources to do their job effectively. As such, an email marketer (female or male) needs to be given the same ability to think, strategize and analyze as other marketers in the organization. Women in email marketing don’t want to be valued because of their gender, they want to be valued because of the power of their medium and email marketing is as powerful as Galactus.
Great article, except for this line: "Women are nurturers by nature. It’s in our DNA to support and encourage." Most of the women I know would take exception to that.