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Direct & Email Marketing

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

How can you get the most out of your email campaigns? Here is what a few of South Africa’s top marketing managers have to say on the subject.




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.

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.

Direct & Email Marketing

Actually, Cold Emailing Can Work for Small Businesses

There is a right way and many, many wrong ways to do it.

Jacky Chou




Cold emailing has existed since the dawn of the internet. The notion of finding business prospects through email has been around for this long because it works. Huge, multimillion-dollar companies owe their success to cold emailing, at least in their beginning phases. It doesn’t matter how big your business is, though, cold emailing is a method proven to increase sales leads and grow your network.

The idea of sending an email to another business can be daunting, especially for small ventures. It can be nerve-racking not knowing if that other business will consider your experience and solutions or just delete your email without a second thought. But, in reality, the only way you can get comfortable with cold emailing is to actually do it. You’ll learn quickly that you won’t care much about the responses you don’t get and more about the ones you do.

Plan it right

You’ve probably noticed your email inbox puts the newest messages at the top, making them the first ones a person sees. Plan to send your emails between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. More likely than not, your potential business leads are just arriving to work from a peaceful weekend and have a little more time on their hands to read through a few emails.

Related: Productivity Lifesaver: The 5-Sentence Email

Be specific in your subject line

Make sure your subject line is short and specific. Don’t promise things you don’t intend to deliver on. If you’re asking for a minute of their time, make sure all you need is a minute. Within the email, don’t ramble on about a bunch of nonsense. Get to the point, and tell them why you’re emailing.

“When you want to grab the attention of someone important, scrap the entertaining subject lines and focus on utility,” says Adam Grant, Linkedin influencer, in his article 6 Ways to Get Me to Email You Back. In the age of clickbait, when people are busy, they want to know if clicking on your email will be worth it.

Don’t drag it out

Caroline Webb, author of How to Have a Good Day, gave readers her secret to successful cold emailing. She describes the Solution + Problem or Pain + Future + Solution layout. With this method, you tell the person you’re writing to what your solution is for a pain point or problem they might be having within their business. Then you show them what the future could look like with your solution. Remember, it’s all about how you can help them with their business, not how their business will help your own.

Make it personal

The most important thing you can do when it comes to cold emailing is to make the email personal. This is much easier to do when you’re a small business reaching out to other businesses in your own community. Tell them, specifically, why you want to do business with them. Let them know about other projects in town that you’ve been a part of, and if you’ve met them in the past, remind them – don’t assume they remember you.

Try to say the word “you” instead of the word “I” as often as you can. If you make the email too much about you, you’ll drown out the fact that you’re offering a solution to their potential problem.

Related: (Video) Emails that Get Fast Responses

Always end with a call-to-action, or CTA

Make sure each email ends with a request or a CTA, so that you can ensure you’re building connections with your audience. If you don’t tell people their next steps or what you want them to do, they won’t know you are actually waiting on their response. An effective CTA is exciting, not generic and includes a question or link for them to click, such as asking their opinion and including a link to another blog post.

Don’t be afraid to follow up with another approach if you find that your email has gone unanswered – and unopened.

One final piece of advice. Don’t just put a link in your email asking them to click. If they have no idea who you are, they most likely won’t do it. Make sure you say what you need to say within the email without requiring your potential clients and customers to go through a scavenger hunt of clicks to get there. Even though it’s called cold emailing, by using the right planning and the above tips, you can build those warm, lasting connections with your current and potential audience and set your small business up for future success.

This article was originally posted here on

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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




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




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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