The Best Ways to Learn Email Marketing
I’m routinely asked, “How do I learn email marketing?” To the point that I almost released a course on it. But, after working on said course for a while, I realized that there are already a ton of resources and people out there far better-equipped to teaching you email marketing strategy. I’m happy to help out with the design and accessibility pieces but, for general email marketing stuff, here’s where you should go to become a better professional email marketer.
Quick note: I know there are a ton of paid courses and stuff out there, but many are expensive and/or outdated. I’m trying to keep these recommendations either free or relatively cheap so that most folks can access them.
Books & Courses
The best book on the topic is Chad S. White’s Email Marketing Rules. Now in it’s third edition, it’s pretty much a blueprint to creating an exceptional email marketing program. Every chapter includes some of the most straightforward, practical advice on email marketing you’ll ever read.
Jon May has a great, comprehensive guide to email marketing called Send Better Emails. It walks you through everything from strategy and planning to converting subscribers.
Jenna Tiffany has an excellent book called Marketing Strategy. It’s not all email, all the time, but Jenna’s an email pro and her advice is well worth taking.
Skillshare has a bunch of email marketing courses. I can attest to the quality of the Mailchimp Original ones featuring folks like Fabio Carneiro, Kate Kiefer Lee, and John Foreman. They’re older but still provide a great introduction to email marketing. Yes, Skillshare requires a subscription, but it’s really inexpensive. Pay a month and burn through as much as you can.
Pretty much every learning platform has courses, too. Your mileage may vary greatly, but it’s worth checking out things like LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight, Udemy, Coursera, etc. Perhaps more beneficial would be to go to the ESPs themselves. Many have really good training courses for email marketers. While they’re usually product-specific, nearly all of them go over the foundations of email marketing you need to know.
Not email-specific, but worth reading to inform your overall marketing efforts are books like The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman, Nicely Said by Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee, The Jobs To Be Done Playbook by Jim Kalbach, Practical Empathy by Indi Young,
I’m a huge fan of A Book Apart, and they have a few titles that could improve your marketing efforts. Particularly, Better Onboarding by Krystal Higgins, Design for Real Life by Eric Meyer and Sara Wachter-Boettcher, and Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter.
I’m not a huge Seth Godin fan, but he does have a few good books worth exploring. Check out Tribes, This Is Marketing, and The Practice.
Finally, marketing is a creative profession. And all creatives should read Austin Kleon’s trilogy: Steal Like an Artist, Show Your Work, and Keep Going. They’ll save you many times over.
There are so many awesome people in the email marketing community. Honestly, too many to list here. But I do keep an updated list of folks I know do awesome email work over at The Better Email. Last time I checked, there were over 100 people to follow on it. That should keep you more than busy enough.
If you want to engage with email-specific communities, two come to mind:
The Email Geeks Slack community has been around for years and has over 10,000 users. It’s run by a wonderful bunch of mods and has channels on everything from email marketing strategy to career tips. It’s legit probably the best place to go as a new (or experienced) email marketer.
Women of Email is a professional network of—you guessed it—women in the email marketing industry. While I can’t count myself among their members, I do know many of them (including some of the founders) and know how open, supportive, and awesome the group can be.
There are so, so many email marketing blogs out there. It’s hard to keep up with all of them (believe me, I’ve tried). Your best bet is to follow a few that put out consistently good advice and ignore the rest. Here are the ones I’ve found useful:
- I’m partial to the Litmus blog since I wrote half the stuff there, but it’s still a great resource.
- Chad’s Email Marketing Rules blog is a great way to keep up with all of his content.
- Campaign Monitor’s blog has been around a looong time but still publishes awesome articles.
- While naturally enterprise-focused, the Oracle Modern Marketing blog is a wonderful resource.
- AWeber’s an OG ESP and have a blog worth following.
- I’ve been consistently impressed with MailerLite’s articles. Keep ‘em coming.
- ConvertKit’s the newer kid on the block, but their blog is excellent. Product- and creator-focused, but great.
- Klaviyo is newish, too, and has an equally excellent blog.
- Really Good Emails is worth following everywhere, including their blog.
- I used to be torn about HubSpot, but their blog has been really solid the last few years.
- The ActiveCampaign blog can be very product-specific at times, but definitely worth following.
- Be sure to keep up with the SendGrid blog, too.
- Finally, Email on Acid has been pumping out some solid content lately.
In the “not blogs but periodically updated” category, Email Einstein, Inbox Besties, Inboxing, Humans of Email, Email and Coffee, and Notes from the Dev are all worth checking out.
After all is said and done, the best way to learn email marketing is by doing two things consistently:
- Look at your own inbox and study what resonates with you and actually got you to do something.
- Practice your email marketing skills in your own work.
You can read, listen to, or watch all the advice you want, but you need to reflect on what actually works and then apply it on a regular basis to get good at email marketing. It’s just like learning anything else.