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Direct & Email Marketing

POPI Proof Your Direct Marketing

As with any relatively new piece of legislation, the passing of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) can bring with it confusion and concern as to how it will affect your direct marketing initiatives.





As with any relatively new piece of legislation, the passing of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) can bring with it confusion and concern as to how it will affect your direct marketing initiatives. Hopefully I can quickly clear up some of the more common questions people have. 

First off, it’s important to understand that POPI is neither a punitive nor unwarranted piece of legislation. In fact, it’s highly relevant, considering the influx of information that people and organisations are dealing with on a daily basis. The primary aim, as its name suggests, is to protect the privacy of individuals.   

The legalities of POPI

A main concern for marketers and businesses aiming to increase their sales is whether POPI will make it illegal to conduct direct marketing campaigns over snail mail, email, SMS, AVM and other database marketing channels. The short answer is NO.

Related: Protection of Personal Information Act – Everything You Need to Know About POPI

That being said, obtaining consent is a critical part of the legislation to take note of, as under POPI, marketing campaigns become opt-in rather than opt-out. 

Some key guidelines include: 

  • Respect the choice of a consumer to receive information upfront
  • Be clear that the consent you’re requesting relates to a specific purpose, such as contacting them about insurance products for example
  • Provide customers with a clear way of expressing their choice, such as ticking a checkbox or clicking on a button to opt in
  • Record when and how consent was obtained, and what it covers
  • Check your existing marketing consent clauses to ensure they comply with POPI and allow for the kind of marketing you plan to do

Opt in or opt out?


What we can expect is for POPI to have a significant impact on email and SMS marketing. Previously, email marketing was done on an opt-out basis, where consumers could be communicated with until they expressly indicated that they no longer wished to receive emails.

Under POPI, all email marketing will be done under an opt-in basis, where marketers can email potential consumers once to obtain their permission to send subsequent marketing communications. However, while you need consent when you want to direct market to new prospects by electronic means (like email and SMS), the same does not apply to existing customers.

The implementation of POPI also means that marketers must offer a simple way for consumers to opt out of receiving marketing messages, such as an unsubscribe link on an email, or having a “Reply STOP to opt-out” option in an SMS. 

A few guidelines on this include:

  • Do not charge people to opt-out
  • Keep a list of everyone who opts-out
  • Be granular – allow people to specify how and when they can be contacted. Often people do not want to unsubscribe from all communications, just certain ones
  • Use a mass communication tool, like a mass mailer or bulk SMS system, to manage your unsubscribe list
  • Use the correct tool, such as an email marketing system, to send bulk mass communications like email and SMS

The change from opt-out to opt-in does present opportunities for your company to adopt a few innovative approaches to obtaining opt-in consent. These could include:

  • Promotional competitions
  • Loyalty programmes
  • Exclusive access to excellent content

To make this work, marketers need to ensure that the copy of the opt-in request is compelling. This could include specifying what the benefits are to the person of opting in, such as being the first to receive terrific deals that would be of interest to them. 

Related: Five Tips for Effective Marketing that Complies with the POPI Act

Risk aversion

The real risks around POPI come from actively failing to comply with its directives. These range from reputational damage and losing customers, to being fined up to R10 million, or being sentenced to up to ten years in jail.

These hazards can be most easily avoided by doing the following:

  • Take the Information Regulator’s directives seriously from the outset
  • Perform due diligence when processing bank account numbers
  • Have a complaints procedure in place for customers to air and resolve their grievances

By following the guidelines above, POPI need not loom as an ambiguous threat to business. Instead it can be seen as a piece of legislation that can be adhered to easily – one which will benefit both consumers and businesses wanting to find the right types of customers.

To find out more on how to make your marketing POPI proof, visit

Gareth Mountain is Head of Sales at Olico. Lending and Innovation Company, Olico, is an online and mobile marketing partner. It offers an end-to-end service, enabling financial service providers or other advertisers to market and sell their products in a highly targetable way. Olico works with blue-chips Liberty, Sanlam, Hollard, RCS, 1life Direct and many more, using a CPL or CPA model, generating over 10 000 insurance sales and over 100 000 loan applications per month. Olico was founded by Mike Kann in 2013. It is a member of the DMA and is POPI compliant.

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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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