December 14, 2007

Who Would You Hire To Be Your New E-Mail Marketing Director?

Let's say that your multi-channel brand is looking to hire an E-Mail Marketing Director. You are the VP of Marketing for this brand, leading an e-mail program that sends out one general version of an e-mail campaign each week to the entire e-mail list. Who would you hire, and why? What would you look for in a candidate?

Choice #1 = Director of Catalog Circulation. This person has 22 years of direct marketing experience, and has worked at your company for the past 12 years. She is well-respected at your company, knows the politics of your company, and knows targeting strategies inside-out. Last year, this person won your brand's award for outstanding skills in managing people.

Choice #2 = Manager of E-Mail Marketing: This individual has 4 years of e-mail marketing experience, all at your company. He works well with your e-mail delivery vendor, and keeps up with industry news via conferences, trade journals, discussion groups, and blogs. He knows more about e-mail marketing than anybody else in your company.

Choice #3 = Director of E-Mail Marketing For Your Top Competitor: This person has ten years of e-mail marketing experience, and based on your interview of this person, manages an e-mail program that is 30% more productive than your current program.

Choice #4 = Director of Client Services For A Key E-Mail Vendor: This candidate has no client-side experience, but is well-versed in the challenges facing the e-mail marketer, and knows the strategies employed by your competition.

Choice #5 = Manager of Online Marketing: Your very own online marketing manager developed a highly profitable online marketing program for your multi-channel brand, and is looking to expand her horizons. She has six years of experience, all at your company.

Choice #6 = A Store Manager: One of your store managers runs a rogue e-mail marketing program that is believed to have increased his comp-store sales by 9% last year. He feels he can deliver improved results for all stores, though he acknowledges he knows little about e-commerce or catalog channels. Because stores comprise 62% of total sales, this candidate believes he is well-qualified to meet the needs of the brand.


  1. Anonymous11:11 AM

    Got to give it to #2, to show that loyalty is rewarded. If he doesn't pan out in 12 months, go with the competition's guy.

  2. I'm curious as to your thought process about internal candidates, and how their experience stacks-up against an inexperienced e-mail manager, or somebody from outside the company who doesn't know the company culture.

    No answer is right or wrong here ... given the situation, I've hired via succession plans, experienced individuals with no directly-relevant experience for the job in question, and I've hired external candidates when I've had good internal candidates.

    I'm curious what your thought process is!

  3. Anonymous1:17 PM

    In order of priority I would have to say:
    1. Director Catalog - So much of email marketing is leveraging database marketing skills. The existing Catalog Director would have that, management skills and company knowledge. The deliverability and ISP stuff could be learned.
    3.Dir of Email from Competitor - Proven commodity
    4.Dir Client Services from Vendor - A ton of ISP and competitor knowledge
    2. Manager of Email Marketing Internal Hire - Knows the in's and out's but vision and strategic planning would be in question.
    5. Manager of Online Mkt Internal Hire - Risky. Customer acquisition is not the same as retention and loyalty.
    6. Store Manager - Big Risk Here.

  4. I'd base the decision on where you see the email campaigns going in the future. If it's what I think- that there should be more transactional event-based campaigns, and far more segmentation, these would be the results of the decision:

    #1 Catalog person, as it looks like the email marketing campaign needs some segmentation, analysis, and otherwise database heavy muscle behind it. Catalog folks have been doing this for a long time. Partnered with the existing Email person, could be a great combination. (if that person doesn't move on once getting passed over!)

    #2 Email Marketing insider, and set clear goals with expanded segmentation in the future, and hold them to it.

    #3 Competitor- though there could be hidden issues here that come up.

  5. I don't know. The catalog person has a lot of experience but it is a very different beast from email. Yes the segmentation aspect would be solid, but the nuts and bolts of an email campaign are extremely important.

    What about the people under the director? Could they handle the hands on activities well enough so that the director can be left to strategy and segmentation? If so I would have to go with Anna - put the two together and you got a winning team.

  6. Redmond, Anna, Johnathan. Thank you for offering your comments. I appreciate you being willing to offer our audience the thought process you go through when making these decisions.

    The crowd I tend to run with is generally catalog-dominant or retail-dominant. So, these topics come up frequently.

    We have spirited debates about the type of person who should lead an area. I see folks in organizations who want to reward the retail store manager who, via elbow grease, managed to run an e-mail marketing campaign from his laptop computer. I see the conflict between highly seasoned catalog leaders and less experienced (but talented) e-mail marketing subject matter experts. I regularly see the conflict between "in-house" promotion vs. finding somebody from a competitor who knows the "secret sauce" necessary to make a program succeed.

    Your comments fit right into the discussions I have with business leaders.

    KEEP THE COMMENTS COMING, FOLKS! What are your thoughts?

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  8. Anonymous10:45 PM

    Fantastic post---will this be part of the multichannel game you are designing?
    In order
    Choice #5 = Manager of Online Marketing: Fresh ideas, ambitious, from a flashier side that will inspire creativity among your group, she is first choice for 12 months. Then she will jump elsewhere looking again to expand horizons. Enough to kickstart group.
    Choice #2 = Manager of E-Mail Marketing: While light on overall experience, keeping up with all the trends of the industry makes him a good choice to succeed number five---perhaps as been stated by others a sharing with number 5. Can learn from number 5 but needs another perspective.
    Choice #6 = A Store Manager: “Rogue” means doesn’t get along well with leadership so creative ideas will be slapped down and too much will discourage and push him away. As for staff, probably resented by less driven and passed over subordinates. Can dictate at store level but in smaller department you need to promote more of a team element. This is THE most driven and talented person(your “it” column), but…leadership might not be an option, yet. I would definitely bring into your team as soon as possible, and then see where he goes. Perhaps will grow to succeed Number 5 or number 2.
    Choice #3 = Director of E-Mail Marketing For Your Top Competitor: Key phrase here was based solely on interview, improved 30% at his company. If independently proven and person is well respected throughout industry, then hire for main job(jumps to top of list), do not hire number 5. If can’t proven and nothing of note about this guy from industry, than try as consultant.
    Choice #4 = Director of Client Services For A Key E-Mail Vendor: This one has wealth of knowledge of competition strategies, but that doesn’t always transition well. Consultant.
    Choice #1 = Director of Catalog Circulation. Not a good fit. Knows politics and can manage, so bump up to VP at some level, but not director of email because after 22 years in catalog the required learning curve AND need to be creative would lead to failure.

  9. K --- you're assuming that rogue means this person doesn't get along with leadership. Maybe the person doesn't get along with the e-mail team because the e-mail team doesn't like somebody running their own e-mail program out of their Outlook Express account.

    This happens.

    Good feedback!

  10. Kevin,

    If this person is running an email campaign out of Outlook (assuming this is a broad based campaign) then the e-mail department has every reason to be pissed off. If someone is jeopardizing my campaigns by potentially increasing the rate of emails being blocked by SPAM, or sending to people on my list and... well there are just too many reasons that would piss me off.


  11. The interesting thing about this is that most folks would side with the e-mail department, feeling angry at the rogue retail store manager.

    These things also happen when the e-mail department isn't thinking about the needs of the whole company --- I see this happen a lot. The store folks want to do a series of campaigns, and the e-mail folks have a different, probably equally valid agenda that does not meet the needs of the retail folks.

    Those are the kind of challenges that lead to a rogue program.

  12. Anonymous3:39 AM

    Actually someone who did this outside the email dept is rogue by every sense of the definition so senior management would definitely have issues with such a person.
    Personally speaking, I would want this person as my right hand as such a person is extremely talented and needs to be brought onboard the team. asked about putting person as director, and that involves working well with leadership and counterparts. To drop such a person into the corporate culture as a leader with no introduction is asking for trouble, no matter how much you or I recognize the value of that person. I didn't say it is right, but the VP of the dept(theoretical "you" in the question) should be prepared to run interference for the talented person. Rogue entities undeservedly cause jealousy, resentment, and worse, obstructions by normally good people. Seen it before.
    Of course your experience was at Nordstroms where even lowest ranking employee is empowered...a different culture than majority of businesses. Did this situation occur there and if so, how did it turn out?


  13. Anonymous5:01 AM

    To comment on your follow-up to Jonathan--you make an excellent point that marketing(direct, email, and web) sometimes ignore the experiences of the ones "in the trenches". Not to knock data anaylsis(reason most of us are here reading you), but the store manager could probably paint a better picture of his customers. He will have had hands on experience with Sally who compliments what is done well and Tom who is angry about something not done well, both of whom "bumped" up their issue above the first lines of defense(i.e. customer service) meaning these customers want to be heard.
    What is procedures are in place for marketing at a company to talk with the employees dealing one on one with customers(not just retail employees but customer service for website and phone)? They talk to customers, learn the motivations of why the customer bought something, and can provide missing puzzle pieces to marketers.
    PS. This rogue store manager--I am guessing you are basing on real person--did this person transition to corporate and how did that go? And what was it about his customers that the email team missed?

  14. I am aware of retailers that struggle with this situation.

    In most cases, the merchandise presented in the e-mail campaign is chosen by "corporate" individuals ... either folks running the e-mail campaigns, or by merchandisers who want to feature various items.

    The store manager or department manager or sales associate is challenged to grow sales. This individual, based on face-to-face conversations with customers, would prefer that different merchandise be featured ... new merchandise that appears with a change in the floorset, for example. The corporate individual might want to "maximize ROI" by putting a best-selling item in the e-mail campaign.

    Eventually, enough store employees get frustrated, and they take matters into their own hands. If the Regional Manager is under pressure to grow sales, then the rogue store employee can often run his/her own program.

    Worse, if there are information technology folks who are sympathetic to the store individual, you will end up with multiple e-mail programs in the company.

    I only share this because I see it happening out there. It's even more fun to analyze the results of each program.

  15. Anonymous8:15 AM

    This begs the question: what are the requirements and needs of the position? What exactly is the segment/market that the company operates in? What are the most pressing needs for the position?
    The fact that you indicate that the position is at the VP level, I'd guess that it for a very large company, otherwise it might not make much sense to fragment marketing along channels.
    One final note is that an email marketing person with 10 years of experience seems impressive but means that the person started working in that channel at a time when very, very little marketing was available online and the "qualification" comes across as a bit inflated.

    Adelino de Almeida

  16. The position reports to a VP, but is a Director-level position, which I think is appropriate at most businesses with sales > $100,000,000.


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