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:
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.
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.
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
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:
- Constant Contact
- 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.
- State the benefits of opting into your company’s newsletter.
- Ensure them that you are not planning on spamming them.
- Inform them on how often they will receive communication from you.
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
How To Get The Most Value For Your Direct Marketing Money
Grant Fleming, CEO of Leadify offers this advice to entrepreneurs and marketers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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