Email marketing remains a channel in any business’s digital marketing strategy. And as a business owner, you can’t just delegate the responsibility of managing and growing this channel to just anyone.
Hiring a freelance email marketer can help you optimize your campaigns, increase engagement, and drive conversions over time. And with this guide, I will walk you through the process of finding, vetting, hiring, and managing the perfect email marketer for your business.
Identifying Your Email Marketing Needs
Before searching for a freelance email marketer, it’s important to define your goals and the specific skills you’re looking for in a candidate:
Do The Understand Your Email Marketing Goals
Start off by determining your objectives, such as increasing open rates, boosting conversions, or growing your email list. Your email marketing objectives should tie back to the immediate company goals that you’re trying to achieve. And when evaluating any freelancer (not only an email marketer), you want to make sure that they understand what your goals are—even if they aren’t clearly defined at the moment.
The right candidate will begin the process of working with you by asking specific questions about your business, to know if they are even the right fit for the project:
A freelance email marketer should ask the following questions to understand the goals a potential client is trying to achieve:
- What are your primary business objectives or goals related to email marketing?
- Who is your target audience, and do you have any existing audience segments or buyer personas?
- What is the current state of your email marketing efforts, including open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates?
- Are there any specific email marketing campaigns you’ve had success with or want to replicate?
- What types of email content (e.g., promotional, informational, or nurturing) have resonated best with your audience?
- Do you have a preferred email marketing platform, or are you open to exploring new tools?
- Are there any specific metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) that you would like the freelancer to focus on improving?
- How do you envision the collaboration between your team and the freelance email marketer?
- Are there any particular email marketing strategies or techniques you’d like the freelancer to explore, or are you open to new ideas and recommendations?
- What is your expected timeline for achieving the desired results, and are there any milestones or checkpoints you’d like to establish during the project?
By asking these questions, a candidate will save both of you time to know whether or not they are the right match for the project and you feel comfortable moving the conversation forward.
What Is Their Experience and Background?
When evaluating a freelance email marketer, make sure that you get a clear picture of their past work and if they’ve worked with previous clients that are within your industry. They don’t always have to have direct experience with other brands that are related to yours however, if they don’t then they have to present a strong case for why they are a good fit for the role.
Do they show a passion for what you’re selling? Have they done enough research on your company and your team’s story to want to contribute to the mission? Do they have a solid understanding of how your company makes revenue? These are questions that need to get answered when you’re evaluating their past experience—and hearing from a reference never hurt anyone either!
Assess their knowledge of email marketing platforms, tools, and best practices. Have they worked with MailChimp, Klaviyo, HubSpot, SendinBlue, Constant Contact, etc? If they haven’t worked with the email service provider (ESP) that your team uses, do they have a process set in place for adopting the tool within the first 30 days of working with you? And keep in mind that if you’re just getting started, they should be able to recommend an ESP for your business and present the case for it after doing thorough research on your business’s needs.
Not all ESPs are created equally.
Determine their ability to craft compelling email copy, including knowledge of popular copywriting frameworks, such as AIDA, PAS, FAB, and the 4U’s and more (explanations of each copywriting framework are below).
AIDA is a classic and widely-used copywriting framework that helps create persuasive and effective advertisements or promotional content. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. The AIDA framework guides the target audience through a sequence of psychological stages, from grabbing their attention to urging them to take action.
The PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solve) copywriting framework is a powerful and proven method that engages readers and guides them through a persuasive narrative. This framework is effective because it addresses the reader’s pain points, amplifies the problem, and provides a solution, creating a compelling argument for your product or service.
The FAB (Features-Advantages-Benefits) copywriting framework is a persuasive technique that focuses on showcasing the unique aspects of your product or service and explaining how they can improve the reader’s situation. This framework is effective because it demonstrates the value of your offering and helps the reader envision the positive impact it could have on their lives.
The 4U’s (Useful, Unique, Urgent, Ultra-specific) copywriting framework is a powerful technique that helps create persuasive messaging for your product or service. This framework is effective because it focuses on creating copy useful to the target audience, highlights the unique aspects of the product or service, creates a sense of urgency, and provides ultra-specific details to build trust and credibility.
It helps if the candidate can explain which frameworks they used when presenting their portfolio of past email campaigns and newsletter content they created. Some candidates will have what seems like impressive work, however, with generative AI tools available at low costs—you want to hire a freelancer who understands strategy and can explain how copywriting frameworks can be used effectively.
Don’t just hire a person with a bag of tactics. Hire an email marketing expert who understands buyer psychology.
Do They Have A Basic Understanding Of Design and Layout
An effective email marketer should be familiar with designing visually appealing and responsive email templates. Or at the very least, an email marketer worth the investment in hiring them should know how to create a brief to handoff to a designer.
Knowledge of HTML and CSS, as well as experience with email design tools and software, can be extremely helpful for creating professional-looking emails that display correctly across various devices and inboxes. It’s useful at this point to ask if the candidate has a swipe file of other email campaigns they look to—that way you can get a sense for their taste and see what they think is best-in-class.
Do They Understand The Concept Of “Email Deliverability”?
A good email marketer should have the technical skills necessary to manage email lists, segment subscribers, and ensure deliverability is always protected. As someone who’s tried his hand at being an email marketer myself, I can tell you firsthand that I’ve lost a client because I tanked their email deliverability. I had no idea what this was until I found out the hard way!
A top-notch freelance email marketing should be skillful at targeting different types of subscribers, such as prospects, customers, churned customers, customers who can be sold new products and features, or those who can refer new people to the business. This segmentation allows for more personalized and targeted campaigns, resulting in better engagement and conversion rates. And it also helps with warming up your lists!
You don’t want to start activating email as a marketing channel by blasting away your messaging to uninterested people. The more people click “unsubscribe” (or worse, click “Report Spam”), the more your email deliverability gets worse. You want to make sure you hire someone who understands this.
Understanding email deliverability best practices, such as sender reputation management, list hygiene, and avoiding spam filters, is important to ensure your emails reach the intended recipients.
Don’t hire a freelancer who doesn’t understand this concept or who can’t speak to it when you interview them.
Understands Email Marketing Regulations
A thorough understanding of email marketing regulations, such as the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR, is essential for making sure your campaigns are legally compliant and avoids penalties. Your email marketer should be knowledgeable about these regulations and implement best practices to maintain compliance.
Analytics and Data-driven Decision-Making
An effective email marketer should be able to analyze campaign data, identify trends both weekly, monthly, and quarterly, and make data-driven decisions to optimize performance over time. Proficiency in tracking key metrics, such as open rates, click-through rates, replies, and conversion rates, is necessary for measuring campaign success and making informed adjustments.
It’s a red flag if your freelancer can’t explain why something succeeded or failed and at the same, how to improve from the learnings acquired after an email marketing campaign is over.
Where to Find Freelance Email Marketers
Finding the right freelance email marketer can be challenging. Here are some places to start your search:
Online Hiring Platforms
Platforms like MarketerHire offer a curated pool of top email marketing freelancers who have been thoroughly vetted. Unlike other platforms like Fiverr or UpWork, MarketerHire accepts only the best of the best, ensuring that you’re working with qualified and reliable talent.
Attend industry events, conferences, and meetups to connect with other professionals and find potential freelance email marketers.
LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook groups can be excellent resources for finding and connecting with freelance email marketers. Don’t forget to find private Slack groups as well!
Interviewing Email Marketers
Prepare a list of questions to ask during interviews to assess candidates’ expertise and fit for your business. Here are some that I ask when hiring a new team member to manage email marketing:
- Can you provide examples of successful email marketing campaigns you’ve worked on and the key performance indicators (KPIs) you used to measure success?
- How do you stay up-to-date with the latest email marketing trends and best practices? Who are some of your favorite experts, newsletters, and brands? Do you have a swipe file?
- How do you approach email list segmentation and targeting?
- What strategies do you use to improve email deliverability and open rates?
- How do you craft engaging subject lines and email content that drive clicks and conversions and sales?
- Can you explain your approach to A/B testing and optimizing email campaigns for better performance?
- Can you describe your experience with different email marketing platforms and tools, and which ones do you prefer to use?
- How do you ensure compliance with email marketing regulations, such as the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR?
- How do you handle reporting and analytics to track the success of email campaigns and make data-driven decisions?
Making the Final Decision
After interviewing potential candidates, review their qualifications, interview performance, and any provided samples or case studies. Consider the following factors to make an informed decision:
- Relevant experience and background
- Technical skills and expertise
- Copywriting abilities and knowledge of popular copywriting frameworks
- Industry knowledge and understanding of your target audience
- Communication skills and ability to collaborate with your team
- Availability and commitment to meet project deadlines and expectations (e.g. do they have other clients, how much time do you need their help on a weekly basis, etc.)
Onboarding and Managing Your Freelance Email Marketer
Once you’ve hired your freelance email marketer, ensure a smooth onboarding process by providing them with the necessary resources, tools, and information about your business. Establish clear communication channels and set expectations for progress updates and project milestones.
A. Onboarding Process
Provide your freelancer with access to relevant tools, platforms, and information about your business, such as branding guidelines, target audience insights, and past email campaigns. Don’t forget to get them in contact with any internal team members they may need to meet with; set those introductions up as soon as possible!
B. Setting Expectations
Clearly communicate your expectations regarding project timelines, milestones, and desired outcomes. Establish a schedule for progress updates and check-ins. An expert email marketer can help set benchmarks for you if you don’t have any in mind.
C. Collaboration and Communication
Encourage open communication and collaboration with your freelancer, providing feedback and support to help them succeed in their role. Always be transparent and make sure you’ve communicated how the hand-off process will come about (i.e. are they eventually getting hired full-time or will you use them temporarily).
It’s Time To Find The Right Freelancer
Hiring a freelance email marketer can be a valuable investment for your business. By identifying your email marketing needs, evaluating potential candidates, and providing a supportive onboarding process, you can maximize the success of your email campaigns and drive significant results for your business.
If you want to hear from an expert in the field, check out this podcast interview I did with Joe Portsmouth.