Email Campaign Wisdom From South African Digital Marketing Sages – Part 2

Email Campaign Wisdom From South African Digital Marketing Sages – Part 2



If you are here, there is a good chance you have already read through part 1 of this article (If you haven’t, we recommend you do), and know well that nothing beats email in the world of digital marketing. In part 1, we brought you insights on a slightly more abstract level from three top tier, South African marketing professionals.

Here, another set of Rainbow Nation experts go deeper into the trenches with more technical advice. Seeing as we have a lot to cover, let’s dig in.   

Hadar Graf, Author of this article, Marketing Manager EN Markets at ActiveTrail

As author of this article, I’m using my editorial freedom to jump in and once more thank our team of digital marketing authorities and to thank you for hearing them out.

Related: 6 Steps To Launching A Newsletter

zamandosi-celeZamandosi Cele

Email Marketer at GetSmarter

I’m going to share two insights with you that have made an impact for me and the team I work with.

The first is that including a CTA (Call to Action) button in our email banners increases engagement within the email. People are attracted to clickable-looking visuals, so by including a button in the header image we speak to that. The copy can be as simple as “take the quiz” or “find out more”. It might seem obvious but it’s still incredibly important.

The second insight is about the impact that subject line length has on open rates. Did you know that some devices only display a max of 33 characters? Here’s that 33-character sentence. And that’s not counting the full stop. If people can’t see what’s in the email, why would they look inside? We do our best to keep subject lines below 50 characters.

Related: 4 Revolutionary Behavioural Email Marketing Ideas

antonio-coppolaAntonio Coppola

Founder and Director at Aglio

Increase your Open Rate

“If you can increase your open rates even slightly by optimising your subject lines, the potential to increase click and transaction rates increases.” Antonio Coppola Founder and Director at Aglio

In my experience, best email programs consistently test their subject lines.


  • Be clear and direct.
  • Be short – keep subject lines to 50 characters or less.
  • Do tell subscribers what’s new in this message.
  • Remind subscribers when sales/events are ending.
  • Try wistful, fun or emotional subject lines.
  • Test personalisation, symbols (%, $) and capital letters.
  • Try incorporating offer codes in the subject line.


  • Be deceptive
  • Be too long-winded
  • Deviate from your brand voice too much
  • Test once and then make long term decisions
  • Be afraid to have fun.

mark-visserMark Visser

Email and Customer Acquisitions Marketer at Travelstart

The most successful campaigns have come from constant tweaking and testing from a desktop-orientated design toward a mobile first approach and simple, geographic segmentation.

Applying this along with personalisation we’ve increased the average open rate by 4.89% (I.e.: a 21.34% increase on the average open rate of 29.44%). Subject lines are kept to a 40 character limit for optimal mobile display (e.g.: “ Domestic Flight Deals from Cape Town”) and then using the pre-header text to list prices specifically from that city which would also show in desktop and mobile inbox previews.

We take into consideration readability with a limited attention span as if the subscriber were reading it on their mobile device (E.g.: In transit, in front of the TV, in bed before turning the light out, etc.). One promotion and banner with a mobile optimised image displaying for mobile devices with the use of @media queries. Landing page content remained the same as we use it across channels to increase SEO ranking so only flight price changes were made to the artwork and referenced in the pre-header or subject line specific to the segment.

Related: 8 Email Marketing Tips for Online Retailers

les-blytheLes Blythe

Business and Copywriting Strategist, Self Employed

Tip: How to Increase Your Click Through Rates with Multiple CTAs

I’m often asked how many CTAs (Calls to Action) an email should include. I use as many as 4 in a short email, and it’s effective. That may sound a lot, but here are 4 places you can use CTAs that won’t make your email look crowded.

  1. Use an image as a CTA (make it clickable)
  2. Include a button with a CTA e.g. “Download Now” (use actionable language)
  3. Insert a button that allows the reader to share with a colleague or friend e.g
  4. Use a p.s. with a final CTA e.g. “p.s. did you hear? There’s a new way to send.

The more CTAs you use; the more chance your recipient will click through. Just make sure to vary them so your email looks natural and uncluttered.


Marketing managers such as the ones who have graciously shared their expertise with us herein and in Part 1 of the article, know how important email campaigns are to their marketing programmes.

It is unlike any other digital marketing device in its capacity to surprise and captivate a target audience with relevant and insightful content (regretfully, the opposite is also true, when email is used incorrectly or belligerently), and to provide marketers with quality information regarding customer preferences and behaviour.

It is for these reasons, and many others, that email is still the most prevalent form of digital marketing out there. We hope that the suggestions and recommendations of our Rainbow Nation email marketing pundits will motivate you to further sharpen your campaigns to fully capitalise on the potential of email.

Hadar Graf
Marketing is my passion. Identifying the perfect price point. Determining the best media for advertising to reach a target audience. Butting heads with my colleagues to figure out how to position a new software product. Interviewing clients and gurus to keep a close ear to the market. Collaborating, sharing insights, making tough decisions to help form our company’s marketing strategy. It is an exciting field and I am very fortunate to have been able to make a career of it. Currently, I work for ActiveTrail one of the best email marketing software providers in the market and a company that I collaborated with in the past. Whatever the activity, I am always vigilant, constantly analysing and searching for ways to improve.