Hiring The Email Designer

shutterstock_120694486-ChoosingEmployeesBest practices and smart tactics go a long way, but the most important part of any successful marketing program – email or otherwise – is building the right team.

So, what do you look for when hiring an email designer? Here’s a short list of key factors to help ensure you have the right folks on the job.

Web Design Experience

This first point is an easy but important one. The pool of applicants who will come in the door with the right email experience already in place is small; so, make sure your potential hire has front-end Web design experience, which will allow them to wear multiple hats once they join the team.

Web experience isn’t required to be a good email designer, but it’s always a benefit, and those without it – either because they have a print background or are fresh out of school – are hard to find anymore.

The resume and portfolio both help determine this, but the portfolio is where a designer demonstrates expertise so be sure to look at work samples.

Code Guru

Still pretty easy and combined with the above point, this ensures you have a front-end designer/developer who can take ideas and initiatives from concept to implementation. True enthusiasm is important here because email code is a finicky beast, and a bleeding-edge dev may be frustrated by email’s relative frumpiness.

Make sure you have someone excited by the experimentation of iteration that defines one of email’s key strengths.

User Experience History Or Interest

It’s not traditional website UX, but email plays a key role in your brand’s overall digital marketing UX.

Email messaging requires a particular eye for layout and messaging and an understanding of how programs are consumed over time. Beyond a keen eye for the immediate task, you want a designer who can step back and understand subscriber perceptions over the course of a discrete set of interactions and the program as a whole.

Passion For Numbers

Remember that email and design both operate best in an openly iterative environment. A designer combining both should be energized by this fact and by the opportunity to have a rapid feedback loop on design decisions.

Doing short term tactics analysis and making long term messaging decisions will ultimately create a more effective designer and a wiser problem solver. Ensure your hire is aware and driven by this aspect of the role.

Digital Marketing Awareness

Our space is simultaneously ADHD and case study-obsessed. We’ve processed half a dozen new approaches and techniques before most industries have acknowledged a change on the horizon.

You’re looking for someone with far-reaching awareness who can employ gamification, debate app vs. responsive site, put together a social campaign in a pinch and who can also argue the transience or validity of an emerging technique before it’s proven.

Operational Or Artistic Relevance

Lastly, I love finding a candidate with seemingly unconnected experiences that have perfectly prepped them for our space. Newspaper or magazine experience is a great example – that pace is fast, the publication cycles are short, the need for instant innovation is significant.

I’ve written about how my comics experience taught me email, which was surprising but in hindsight, also quite logical. Once you’ve learned the thought processes required by a fast, complex, collaborative environment, the diversity of experience produces strength and innovation in a team.

In closing, killer email hires can be surprisingly difficult, but using the above points you’ll be on the right path to hiring a great email designer. Have your own hiring story or think there’s a key point I’ve missed? Drop a line in the comments.

Stock image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Email Marketing | Email Marketing | Email Marketing Column


About The Author: is Global Practice Manager, Design Solutions at ExactTarget. He heads email design execution and standards at ExactTarget and works with leading brands across a range of industries, from Expedia to Bank of America. Find him on Twitter @cstudabaker and ask what board games he's playing lately.

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  • Megan Jones

    I’m currently in the process of looking for a great designer. I’ve found several good freelancers through behance but can’t seem to nail down anyone full time. Can the author recommend any good resources?


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