Connect with us

Direct & Email Marketing

Email Campaign Wisdom From South African Digital Marketing Sages

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.




Email. In the world of digital marketing it is the gem in the crown. It is one of the first, and by all accounts and studies, still the most effective tool out there.

Case in point: A study by a well-known research firm (MarketingSherpa) in 2015 showed that 72% of U.S. adults “say they prefer companies to communicate with them via email”. Market pundits expect this sentiment has not abated over the past year, nor that it will any time soon.

At Active-Trail we take such statistics seriously, following the market closely, not only to see where the winds are blowing for the future of email, but also to find new ways to improve our customers’ results.

A number of email marketing gurus from Cape Town and Johannesburg have agreed to let us in on some of their tricks of the trade, so do yourself some good and lend them your ear for a short while.

In order to give each piece of advice a stage that is worthy of its value, we are splitting this article into two parts. This, the first part, brings some of the more conceptual tips, while Part 2 will highlight more hands-on guidance. 

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

Related: 4 Revolutionary Behavioural Email Marketing Ideas

My tip is simple: Read on. I’ve been around email marketing for a while now and am familiar with many of the tricks of the trade (some of which we have implemented in ActiveTrail). With that said, there is always something to learn from industry experts, such as the group we have gathered for you here, who have their own spin on how to improve campaigns in their own markets and in general.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my personal thanks and the gratitude of all of us at ActiveTrail to these marketing gurus who agreed to share with us of their knowledge and experience.”

Aziaziza-banderkerza Banderker

Email Campaign Manager at Itopia Interactive

My top tip: Give to receive

Providing customers with a substantial cash-off offer is one of the most basic and often forgotten techniques in email marketing.

“Utilising this strategy can lead to high click-through rates and sales. From my experience, this technique works very well, especially if the offer is only valid for a limited time.

“This method ensures that customers find genuine benefits and see real value in your newsletters and this, in turn, should guarantee that your customers will continue reading them.”

yazeed-osmanYazeed Osman

Email Marketing Manager at

My advice to any email marketer out there is to segment based on behaviour. Whether you’re just starting off or a seasoned pro, database segmentation is something that you should be doing. At we have millions of products that need to satisfy the many different needs of our customers. By observing how our customers interact with our online store, we are able to use dynamic segmentation to group customers together and serve them relevant products.

While dynamic email segmentation and behavioural communication can become quite complex, the easiest way to start is by observing how your recipients interact with your newsletter.

The majority of email platforms allow you to track what each user clicked on. For this to be effective, first do some thinking on the segments you would like to create and then decide on URLs that would be included in the specified segment.

“Once the basic segments are created, perform split tests to find out what works for each segment. If you’ve set this up correctly, you should see an immediate uplift in open and click through rates.”

Related: 8 Email Marketing Tips for Online Retailers

kuhle-verbyKuhle Verby

Online Campaign specialist at Nimbler and Founder of GitFit

Two Email marketing secrets to recover lost sales and grow your business

Managing huge email lists can be a nightmare without segmenting your list correctly by not placing those who never purchase into a newsletter sequence. This, in turn, creates a huge drop in open rates and conversions, given that this is your opportunity as a marketer to revive your list and recover those lost sales.

Below are a two secrets that will help you increase your open and conversion rates immediately:

1. Usage of emoticons in the subject line

The use of emoticons in email subject lines has proven to increase open rates by at least 10%. A perfect example would be a scarcity email subject line which we use once every 3 to 6 months to help grab the majority of our list’s attention and skyrocket our open rates, this subject line is simple yet extremely effective.

Example: bye :–( [SUBSCRIBER NAME]

2. Knowing and understanding your consumer journey

Alongside the highly effective subject line survey your subscriber and find out why your subscriber base may not have purchased your product yet.

This will give you a world of information to help improve your overall business and product whilst giving you the opportunity to convert each subscriber within given reason, as you will know their objection and will be able to counter it.

Always remember that it is not about how big your subscriber base is, but about how great the relationship with your list is.

Related: Top 10 Email Marketing Resources


Offering incentives, behaviour based segmentation, enhancing your subject lines with emoticons and understanding your customers.

While you may have given thought to these subjects, we are confident that our South African contributors have enriched your knowledge with their real-world experience.

We are eager to share the rest of the tips we have collected for you, so keep an eye out on for Part 2 of Email Campaign Wisdom from South African Digital Marketing Sages.

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

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.