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Direct & Email Marketing

8 Email Marketing Tips for Online Retailers

Use the power of email marketing to increase your online sales – and create sustainability.

Wikus Engelbrecht

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During the last two years, online retail in South Africa has shifted into a higher gear with sustained acceleration.

The Online Retail in South SA research report published by World Wide Worx reveals that the total spend on online retail goods in South Africa surpassed the R2-billion mark in 2010 for the very first time, climbing to R2,028-billion and growing at 30% over the previous year.

In 2011, the industry consensus pointed to a 40% growth spurt, which signified the highest rate of online retail growth in South Africa in almost a decade.

“This extraordinary surge in online retail comes in the wake of a constant rise in the volume of knowledgeable internet users in South Africa,” mentioned World Wide Worx MD and principal analyst for the survey, Arthur Goldstuck.

“During the past year there were 3,6-mlilion people who had been online for five years or more. By 2015, this figure will most likely be 6,8-million – pretty much double the potential e-commerce market of today.”

Online marketing

If you’re a retailer, professional email marketing software can help you tap into this uptick in online trade. Email marketing does the heavy lifting of your delivery of bulk mail, based on good sender reputation; it helps you optimize promotional newsletters to display correctly in different inboxes (from mobile to tablet and PC), it facilitates an increase of your conversions through personalized segmentation, and assists you in analysing the success of your email marketing campaigns via actionable reports – just to name a few of the benefits.

Online retailers use bulk mailers most often to drive up their revenue from first-time buyers, persuade people to purchase more regularly and nurture consumer loyalty.

Maximising your spend

Here are eight tips on what you can do to get the most out of professional email marketing:

  1. Add links to your newsletter to generate traffic to your website instantly by introducing new products that you have added to your stock
  2. Manage multiple customer lists and send targeted messages to different audiences
  3. Increase conversion rates and shorten sales cycles with automated emails (autoresponders)
  4. Grow your database with easily customizable opt-in forms for the web, including signups via social media, as seen done by this email marketing software.
  5. Enable email forwarding, commenting and sharing to social networks to help facilitate word-of-mouth advertising
  6. Monitor product popularity with the in-depth reporting and tracking reports provided by most Email Marketing Service Providers (ESPs)
  7. Design your email marketing programs to align with consumers’ buying preferences, to let them know that you care about what they want – all based on a range of free templates
  8. Enable e-commerce integrations for transactional services and online shopping carts.

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Want to Know What Type of Emails Get Fast Responses? Click Here

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Content ideas

Try promoting a discount or special as a newsletter-exclusive offer, or showcase a specific retail item and include feedback and reviews from past customers. You can also list your top selling products, since people love knowing what others are buying and this often increases sales of the same wares.

Since email is instant, with it you can offer free shipping to shoppers who place an order the same day as they receive the message. And since you can control precisely who gets what message and when, you can set things up so your system will send out automated messages reminding regular customers to replenish their stocks of products.

You can also get user-generated content by asking customers to write personal reviews or descriptions of your products and then leverage or even reward these by highlighting the best client product reviews of the month. However, even the greatest of content might not be opened unless the subject line is enticing to the recipient. Some tips on how to do that can be found on this email blog.

Bring mobile into your marketing mix

Online retailers today have the ability to capitalize on the mobile phenomenon to capture, target and engage with new and existing audiences – and potential customers.

According to a new study from the World Bank, approximately three quarters of the world’s population now has access to a mobile phone: The number of mobile phone subscriptions has skyrocketed over the past 12 years. Fewer than 1 billion mobile subscriptions were active in 2000, while there are six billion subscriptions active today.

World Wide Worx’s latest Mobility report shows that SA consumers are getting savvier when it comes to mobile.

About half of Internet access inSouth Africais mobile only, according to Goldstuck. The research found that the amount of time spent online using mobile devices is now almost commensurate with the amount of time spent online via a desktop or laptop.

59% of the 1 200 people sampled now have Internet access of some kind or another, with 27% having a combination of cellphone and desktop or laptop access.

It’s clear that mobile technologies have quickly gained momentum as the go-to choice for reaching consumers who are increasingly dependent on their handheld devices for almost everything. Due to this, some email service providers have bulk SMS and mobile site creation tools integrated into their software, so choose an ESP that gives you the freedom to synergise your email and mobile marketing efforts.

Most of all, try different options and go with an email service provider who cares about how well their product works for you.

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Get Customers to Open Your Emails. Use these 4 Tips

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Wikus Engelbrecht is a marketing writer, journalist and media liaison at GraphicMail (@GraphicMail), an international email and mobile marketing service provider. Since 2003, his professional career in language and media has spanned the film, print advertising, magazine publishing, web development and online content industries. Contact Wikus at wikus@graphicmail.com and follow @WKS_Engelbrecht on Twitter."

Direct & Email Marketing

How To Get The Most Value For Your Direct Marketing Money

Grant Fleming, CEO of Leadify offers this advice to entrepreneurs and marketers.

Grant Fleming

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It is a common, global problem in the digital age – how do you convert vast amounts of data into demonstrable business value? Marketers aren’t exempt from this conundrum, and the pressure is always on to justify the worth of running a marketing campaign in real world, practical terms.

So how can you glean the most profitability from a campaign? Start by addressing a core challenge: Separating the important data from the not so important.

More particularly, focus on demographic information that is easily accessible like age, gender, location. Then follow up by looking a bit deeper and adding data such as marital status and income. Grant Fleming, CEO of Leadify offers this advice to entrepreneurs and marketers.

1. System essentials

Beyond this, while choosing the right data is key, it’s wise to use the best direct marketing system possible for your marketing needs. For starters, it should report on the data that is most important. It should also offer smart dashboards that displays comprehensive information. And it should accommodate users who want to put analytics and insights together manually.

Related: POPI Proof Your Direct Marketing

Having all three in place – pulling together data, running analytics and translating those into presentable reports – is not just a nice to have. It’s increasingly essential, as direct marketing is fast becoming a saturated space. Figuring out ways to better personalise data, and target and curate the right audience for the right message at the right time has become mission critical.

2. Aid from the machines

The good news is that machine learning is set to take much of the onerous work out of personalising data. But the caveat is that its usage doesn’t exempt you from being involved, as machines still need to be taught what constitutes good data to begin with. You thus need to know and understand how to curate data properly from the outset.

For the foreseeable future, you still need to understand what you are feeding the machine learning algorithms with, and most importantly, testing assumptions. Avoid the tendency to assume that because the results came from a machine, they are correct. Rather, conclusions drawn need to be continually tested, verified and honed where appropriate.

3. Pitfalls and challenges

But, while you may have a basis from which to extract more value from your data, what is preventing you? Among key obstacles that many marketing companies do not realise, is the power of the tools that are available to them, especially those locally produced.

Related: Direct Marketing: Go Where Your Customers Are

This is to their detriment, as the tools readily available in South Africa boast sophisticated, yet simple, insight dashboards and reporting metrics that could power-up their marketing efforts.

As for a potential opportunity, this too is a topic that is often mentioned in other industries, that of creating greater integration with a variety of tools. In reality, few companies have managed to integrate their digital, social and direct marketing approaches well.

Getting more money out of your data boils down to sorting the wheat from the chaff, having the right system in place, curating data, and finally, using machine learning with an eye towards it being an aid, rather than a replacement for human efforts.

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Direct & Email Marketing

Build A Better Database And Boost Your Audience

Put frankly, if you have not crafted your message so that you are engaging with your audience, with their permission, you will be out of the direct marketing game.

Grant Fleming

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For businesses across the board, one way to get better returns is by improving efficiencies. For marketers in particular, the million rand question is how to build better databases and grow their audience.

Grant Fleming, CEO of Leadify, says that building up an audience around particular marketing messages or strategies rather than pushing out any and all content to anyone, is essential. The latter may have been a trend that TV advertising praised, but it is ineffective as well as wasteful, when applied to direct marketing campaigns.

Marketers also must pay attention to their ‘list hygiene’ i.e. ensure irrelevant messages aren’t being sent to the wrong demographic. Do this by avoiding over-marketing, a factor which may be missed by those operating with a ‘more is better’ mindset. This can derail efforts, as even if people are partially interested in the marketing message, they will reach an unsubscribe point more quickly if marketers press them too often.

Dealing with information deluge

Front of mind for marketers should be that people are being besieged by information more than ever. Additionally, email and SMS channels are especially hotly contested marketing spaces, full of marketing promotions.

Clearly, any marketers who want to increase their opt-ins need to get their message and audience right from the outset, while ensuring that they send carefully crafted campaigns at the right time.

Segmentation needs to become more sophisticated too and is among top marketing trends for 2018. Doing so helps marketers treat their audience differently and adds a level of personalisation to their campaigns.

Related: Direct Marketing: Go Where Your Customers Are

The Smart Insights report even suggests greater personalisation will result in an increase in conversions, by keeping marketers relevant and in touch with lists’ changing needs and preferences.

Strategies for success

Analytics can play a significant role here.

More granular detail can be built up over time such as what day of the week, and time of the day messages should be sent to particular segmented audiences for the optimal response.

Spread marketing messages out for a while too, and then hone in on specific days of the week, and times of the day, according to the audience being targeted. It’s considerably more effective to target the right audience at the right time than continuously sending general messages all day.

Related: POPI Proof Your Direct Marketing

The importance of A/B testing to help hone the message to your audience also cannot be underestimated. By testing two or more variants, and listening to the feedback received, marketers have a basis from which to optimise their campaigns.

Further benefits

As for databases, is bigger still better? Yes, but only as a starting point for the data to be further segmented and refined, empowering marketers to more accurately define their audiences.

All this may sound like a great deal of work, but the benefit of doing so isn’t just to build an audience. It will also help marketers deal with the increased pressure from the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) act to ensure they aren’t spamming their audience.

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Direct & Email Marketing

Honour The Opt-out

Gareth Mountain from Olico, explains how PoPI will effect companies undertaking any form of direct marketing, and why it’s important to honour the consumers’ right to opt out of the marketing process.

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It’s in a companies’ own best interests to toe the line when it comes to direct marketing best practices. It boils down to the fact that ethically it is the right thing to do, and that they should not wait for the implementation (and subsequent fines) of the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) act to kick in to respect the consumer.

1. Electronic comms and outbound calling

The most notable point to understand when it comes to electronic channels of communication (email, SMS, Automatic Voice Messaging), is that companies will need explicit opt-in permission to contact the consumer. Here it is not about having the legal right to market to them as the Electronic Communications Act currently specifies, but rather being able to prove that they specifically gave permission for your communication.

Related: Direct Marketing: Go Where Your Customers Are

This is set to bring about an overall decline in electronic marketing, and securing that valuable opt-in permission is going to be crucial. Yes, some companies will certainly struggle, but by providing relevant, ethical, targeted deals to your consumer database, there’s no reason for them to opt-out, especially if your offers are beneficial.

When it comes to outbound calling, PoPI permits one marketing call to a person, even if they have not opted in. During this call, operators can attempt to get them to opt-in for future marketing (both electronic and voice). While this might protect jobs in the South African call centre industry, it could   result in locals receiving more intrusive calls, while less intrusive email and SMS marketing declines.

2. Respect the No

One thing to keep in mind during all marketing communication, is to respect the public’s requests. If a person asks to be removed from your electronic marketing or direct calls, make 100% sure to comply and ensure their number/email does not slip through the cracks to the next campaigns.

On a national level the Direct Marketing Association of SA (DMASA) has established a National Opt Out Database to adhere to. Paid-up members of the DMASA have access to this database as well as the process involved in making sure that their own database corresponds to the DMASA no contact list. This is through a process called “Deduping” and ensures companies do not accidentally market to anyone on this national do-not-call database. DMASA members also need to adhere to the code of conduct which regulates behaviour in the industry.

3. The responsibility of the company

When it comes to a company-wide level, it is best to automate the opt-out process so that human error is taken out of the equation. Keep a record of the opt-outs and inform the consumer that they have indeed been taken off the database.

Related: POPI Proof Your Direct Marketing

One grey area where we believe companies might try and bend the rules, would be to opt-out the consumer on a product-level, meaning that although they have said no for marketing on one brand or product, the company will continue with marketing other products in the stable. It is unlikely, however, that a consumer will decline receiving marketing for one product, and still want communication for another. Rather take them off the database completely.

The reasons why companies must honour opt-outs are numerous, with the fact that the PoPI Act allows for fines of up to R10 million or jail time for violation perhaps standing out as the most prominent. But with the ethical behaviour of companies under the spotlight locally, the moral responsibility of respecting the consumer should not be ignored.

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