Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 5)

Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 5)



Welcome to Part 5 of our Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing in South Africa. In Part 4 we covered what social media marketing is all about. We also had an in-depth look at what you can do on the Facebook platform from an advertising point of view that can help you grow your business.

For those that haven’t yet read through the first four parts of our digital marketing guide, please find the different sections below:

Part 1: The 4 Pillars to Digital Marketing in South Africa

Part 2: Growing Your Business with Search Engine Optimisation

Part 3: Growing Your Business with Search Engine Marketing 

Part 4: Growing Your Business with Social Media Marketing

In this guide, I’m not only going to explain what e-mail marketing is all about but how you can go about utilising it to drive more traffic and sales as well.

A brief history of e-mail

E-mail (electronic mail) was, in fact, one of the very first digital marketing solutions around, and it’s much older than you think.

Back in 1971, Ray Thomlinson sent the very first networked e-mail while using the ‘@’ symbol. The main reason for the ‘@’ symbol was to connect the user’s name and the machine at which the mailbox was allocated.

Related: From Bane To Boon: How To Turn Email Marketing To Your Advantage

E-mails could only be sent to a computer, and the computer usually had multiple users; therefore, the ‘@’ symbol helped identify to which user the mail was addressed.

Modern e-mail only emerged around 1977 and was mainly used by government workers, military personnel, and universities.

In 1996, Hotmail was born, and it was one of the world’s first web-based mailing services.

E-mail in the modern day and age


I roughly covered some of the basics of e-mail marketing back in Part 1, however, here are some of its key features and benefits.

1Most popular way to engage

Even though some marketers might feel that e-mail marketing is in the jaws of death, it’s a fact that it’s still the number one way people communicate during business hours.

According to Return Path, over 2 billion e-mail messages were sent in the last 12 months.

In fact, according to the Radicate Group, there are over 4 billion e-mail accounts globally.

E-mail has been around for as long as 40 years, and most individuals today have an e-mail address, whether it’s for business or personal.

With that said, according to Monetate, e-mail marketing drives more conversions than any other form of marketing!

According to DMAA, e-mail marketing can result in a 3800% in ROI!

And, to be honest, I’ve seen this first hand.

By allowing your customers to opt for your e-mail list, you provide an opportunity to communicate with them again the next time you run a promotion or offer.

2Real time communication

One would think that most people prefer reading e-mails on a desktop, but Litmus concluded that as much as 54% of people open their e-mails on a mobile device.

That means that you can communicate with your audience in real time and you no longer have to wait for them to get back in front of their computers. Thanks to the technology behind smartphones, you can communicate with your customers on-the-go, with the push of a button.

Related: 4 Revolutionary Behavioural Email Marketing Ideas

3Easy way to stay in-touch with your audience

E-mails are a great way to keep your customers informed on what is happening in your business, whether it be a special, latest news, or new product launches, you can rest assured that customers actually want to receive e-mails from a company they know and trust.

According to McKinsey, an average order value coming from a customer on an e-mail list is three times higher than those coming from social media.

4E-mail marketing is affordable

On top of all this, e-mail marketing is affordable which makes it an attractive tool for small businesses. Unlike most marketing initiatives, e-mail marketing can be quite cheap and can cost as little as R0.20c a subscriber.

That means that if you have 10 000 customers in your database, communicating them to them as often as you want will cost your roughly R2000 per month.

5E-mail marketing is ideal for small business because it’s easy enough to implement

The technology around e-mail marketing today is extremely easy to comprehend and apply, which makes it the ideal tool for any small business.

With service providers like MailChimp, GetResponse, Constant Contact, and Emma, any business can set up a marketing campaign in minutes.

6Higher conversion rates with e-mail compared to social media

Believe it or not, but a recent research concluded that e-mail marketing could help you gain 40 times the customers than social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

The main reason for this is that 95% of customers who subscribe to company newsletters find their e-mails useful. That means that each person subscribing to your list has a higher chance of converting than most social media followers.

7E-mail marketing can be automated which can help free up time

I saved the best for last. One of the biggest reasons e-mail marketing holds massive potential is that it can be completely automated.

What does this mean exactly? Well, e-mail marketing automation is the streamlining and automation of multiple workflows and tasks to achieve a common goal. For example: Did a customer abandon his cart? No need to follow up with him manually, you can trigger an automated e-mail to remind him of it to try and win him back.

Want to explain to a customer how your products work?

You can simply send him an automated workflow describing all the different products over a period. You can set how many e-mails you want to send, and how frequently you want to send them, to better help the customer understand how your product can contribute to improving their lives.

Bottom line here is that e-mail marketing automation makes it easier to personally communicate with customers, making them feel valued, while you have more time to focus on the ‘heavy lifting’.

Related: Top 10 Email Marketing Resources

How to go about starting an e-mail marketing campaign

starting an e-mail marketing campaign

Step 1: Find an e-mail marketing service provider

First thing’s first. Before you can do anything, you will need an e-mail marketing service provider. There are numerous platforms out there, but in my opinion, some of the best are:

  1. MailChimp
  2. Emma
  3. Constant Contact
  4. Drip
  5. Infusion Soft.

I’m confident that one of these five will be able to cater for your needs, no matter the size of your business.

The main question you will need to ask yourself is; what is the main goal you are trying to achieve?

If you are seriously trying to automate your marketing efforts a platform like Drip or Infusion Soft will suffice.

If you are the kind of business that is just looking for a simple way to communicate to customers on a regular basis, then MailChimp is the better option.

Step 2: Get permission

Now that you have your e-mailing service all set up, the next thing you will have to do is build a database.

However, before you just randomly start adding people to your marketing list, you first have to gain their permission. You can’t just add people in your contacts to your company’s newsletter as people will have to opt-in and state that they want to receive communication from your business. The last thing you want is people reporting your e-mails as spam!

When asking a visitor to opt into your mailing list, make sure you answer some of the following questions to help them feel a bit more at ease.

  1. State the benefits of opting into your company’s newsletter.
  2. Ensure them that you are not planning on spamming them.
  3. Inform them on how often they will receive communication from you.
  4. Ensure the potential subscriber that their information will not be shared with third parties.

Answering these questions straight from the bat will not only help make the reader feel more comfortable about opting in, but it can also help gain their trust.

Related: Email Campaign Wisdom From South African Digital Marketing Sages

Step 3: Learn when to pitch

Most company’s want to bomb of special offers and discounts the moment they get people to opt-in to their e-mail list. In my opinion, that is not the best way to go about it, except if your visitor has solely subscribed to receive discount and specials.

Best practice would be to warm the customer up by sending them a follow-up e-mail thanking them for opting in. Use this opportunity to tell them more about your company and services before you ask them to commit to buying something.

Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with pitching often, but make sure you put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Ask yourself whether your constant e-mailing or pitching is consistent with the particular expectations you have set.

Now that you have some of the basics covered let’s look at a couple of ways you can grow your e-mail list.

Simple tips to grow your e-mail list

grow your e-mail list

Okay, so you are now convinced that e-mail marketing is the way to go, but where do you start, and how do you get people to opt-in for your e-mail list?

Well, you’re in luck, below are a few tips on how to convert people, fans, and website visitors, into e-mail subscribers.

1QR Codes

Do you use business cards? Well, the next time you are planning on printing a new batch make sure to include a QR code that takes people to your opt-in e-mail page.

Like we mentioned before, if you are the kind of company that offers value, people would want to hear from you, so make it easy for them to opt-in by adding your QR code on the back of your card. Alternatively, a QR code will work just fine in a magazine advert.

Looking for an easy way to convert a link into a QR code? Try QR Code Generator for free!

2Opt-In forms on your website

Having an opt-in form that is not too ‘spammy’ is one of the best ways to grow your e-mailing list in my opinion.

Some marketers prefer having their sign-up forms on the sidebar, while others feel it’s best to have it at the top or bottom of every page. None the less, it’s essential to experiment with different placements to ensure that you implement the best option without interrupting your user’s experience.

Related: Direct Marketing: Go Where Your Customers Are

3Ask social followers to Opt-In with a contest or giveaway

Now that you have learned some of the essentials of social media marketing in Part 4, make sure to reach out to your followers and entice them to opt-in for your newsletter.

By running a competition or giveaway, you will be exposing your website and social media page to many people, some of whom might be your ideal prospects.

I’ve managed to grow e-mail lists by approx. 200% after running a Facebook contest, and so can you.

4Be smart about it, use a leadbox

The last thing you want to do it chase people away with ‘spammy’ pop ups and opt-in e-mail boxes. Remember; treat a website visitor the way you would want to be treated.

So, what is a leadbox exactly? A leadbox is a pop-up window that appears when your visitor clicks on a designated link, like a button or image on your website.

Some companies have tripled the size of their e-mail list by using leadboxes and so can you.

The great thing about a leadbox is that you can add it anywhere you want on your website, and it works perfectly on mobile.

By implementing these tips, I’m confident that you will be able to ignite your subscriber growth.

How to spice up your e-mail marketing campaign


So, you have the correct service provider, you have systems in place to help you grow your subscriber list, and you are communicating with your audience once or twice a week. How do you now take things to the next level?


Segmentation is the practice of splitting up your e-mail list/readers so that you have more targeted groups.

Dividing your readers into different groups can help you personalise your marketing message, and it can help you send the most attractive message at the right time.

Right now, you are probably wondering why you will need to personalise your marketing message? With that said, here are some stats on how personalised and targeted e-mailing can help grow your business:

  • According to Aberdeen, a personalised e-mail can increase your click through rate by an average of 14%.
  • According to eConsultancy, 74% of marketers believe that targeted e-mails can help increase customer engagement.
  • According to Campaign Monitor, e-mails that are personalised are 26% more likely to be opened.
  • I saved the best for last. According to Experian, personalised e-mails deliver up to 6x higher transaction rates.

Do you now see how an enhanced targeted e-mailing campaign can take your business to a whole new level?

Related: 5 Strategic Ways Your Sales And Marketing Teams Need To Collaborate

2Design for mobile

Many companies still make the mistake of designing a newsletter for desktop, assuming that most e-mails get opened on a computer. If that is you, then have a look at these stats below:

  • According to Campaign Monitor, 53% of e-mails are opened on a mobile device.
  • 75% of Gmail’s 900 million users log into their e-mails via their mobile phones, according to TechCrunch.
  • It is a fact that one out of every three clicks within an e-mail occurs on a mobile phone.

In my opinion, an e-mail campaign should look similar to a Facebook newsfeed. It needs to be easy to read and click through while using your smartphone.

3Automate your e-mail marketing efforts

Imagine there was an easy way to follow up with customers, or a way to ensure that new customers receive a series of e-mails that explains how to use the specific product they have bought. Well, not only is there a way, but it’s also super easy to implement.

MailChimp for one allows automated workflows. That means that you can set up a series of e-mails, and schedule to trigger each time a customer has bought a specific product.

For example; if you are selling a piece of software, you can send all customers that bought product X, a series of e-mails explaining how to utilize the software to ensure they get the best bang for their buck, without lifting a finger.

Back in the day, you would have had to have kept a record of which e-mail you sent to whom, and you would have needed to log on daily to ensure each customer gets the correct e-mail.

The last thing you want to do is send a customer the same e-mail, or send him e-mail number three in the sequence when he hasn’t even received the first or second.

Today, all this is possible without having to break a sweat. Make sure to read up more on MailChimp’s automated workflows.

E-mail marketing, if used correctly, is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools around, despite its age.

If you are keen to start your first e-mail marketing campaign, then make sure to have a look at an e-mail marketing service provider like MailChimp or Drip.

The next thing you want to do is set up a few ways customers can opt-in to your e-mail list while making them feel like there is some form of value in it for them.

Remember; don’t spam your subscribers, and treat them the way you would want to be treated as a customer. It is all about gaining their trust by informing them about what they can expect as a subscriber.

Once you feel comfortable with your e-mail marketing, spice things up by splitting your e-mailing list up into segments while ensuring your marketing message is targeted and personalised.

Finally, make sure you design your e-mail for mobile and remember that e-mail automation can go a long way in growing your business.

Jandre de Beer
Having started his own digital marketing company at the age of 22, and selling it at the age of 25, Jandre pursued his passion in the health and fitness industry. Jandre and is now the marketing and creative director at CHROME Supplements & Accessories.