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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Use an image as a CTA (make it clickable)
- Include a button with a CTA e.g. “Download Now” (use actionable language)
- Insert a button that allows the reader to share with a colleague or friend e.g
- 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.
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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