Fundamentals of Email Marketing

Nastasya Koumaras spoke at the recent Marketing and Design Expo (MADEX) on the topic of Email Marketing Essentials. When asked why we at do what we do, why she works here, and why we send emails, her reply was:

“I Iove it there. They teach me something new every day and we do what we do to help others build relationships.”

Why Email Marketing?

Email has proven itself a reliable method of reaching customers. These are just three reasons why email marketing works:

  1. You own your data.
  2. You can create highly targeted campaigns.
  3. The subscriber is in control of their subscriptions.

You Own Your Data

Once a contact subscribes to your email newsletter, their information is yours to use. Since they are willing to hear from you, or are at least interested in what you have to offer, you are free to contact them.

This is the first step of building your personal subscriber list. From here you grow and cultivate it with relevant content. Remember, interest means more opens which could lead to conversions.

Create Highly Targeted Campaigns

You can create targeted email campaigns based on a reader’s behaviour. Use the data you’ve collected to segment lists according to interest.  Eventually contacts will receive relevant, personalised campaigns they are willing to open and read.

For example, Business to Customer (B2C) tends to focus on promotions and marketing, B2C newsletters should focus on thought-leadership.

Thought Leadership is setting your company as a leader in its field through quality, relevant content. Publishing articles, videos, research, and other forms of original content regularly. This allows potential clients in your industry to associate your brand with authority and reliability.

The Subscriber is in Control of Their Subscriptions

Subscription forms, opt-in options, and the ability to unsubscribe allow a reader to feel in control of what they receive from you. Knowing what they are subscribed to and how often they will receive mail, will likely encourage your contacts to engage with your campaigns.

The Research

Everlytic and Effective Measure joined forces in 2015 to research and publish Demystify the Inbox. Recent statistics continue to affirm those findings in the following:

Open Rates

The Email Marketing vs Social Media Performance research of an American demographic reveals the first online “check” of the day is as follows:

  • Email 58%
  • Search Engine or web portal site 20%
  • Facebook 11%
  • Twitter 2%

Demystify the Inbox shows that 84% of South Africans read their emails first or second when going online. The list of “first online check” is as follows:

  1. Email
  2. Facebook
  3. News
  4. Search engine
  5. Other social network
  6. Twitter

Social Sharing

Social media tends to be the most obvious choice when it comes to sharing content. However, email has proven more than once to be the better platform.

Forrester Research states that “90% of emails get delivered to the intended recipient’s inbox, whereas only 2% of Facebook fans see your posts in their news feed.” Radicati reveals that “A message is five times more likely to be seen in email than via Facebook.”

Demystify the Inbox shows that 65% of South Africans use email to share information. Other ways that people share information is through Facebook (47%) and mobile messengers like WhatsApp (50%).

Promotional Messages

Exact target ran a survey to see what platform consumers prefer for marketing activities. These included permission-based promotional messages and social sharing.

The survey concludes that 77% of consumers prefer receiving promotional messages via email, while 4% prefer Facebook and only 1% prefer Twitter.

Demystify the Inbox reveals that 63% of people prefer to receive their promotional messages via email. It also notes that, as consumers grow older, they continue to prefer email for receiving promotional messages.

Planning Your Strategy

In 2012, 46% of people made a purchase as a result of receiving promotional mail. In 2015, the number rose to 64%. These stats show the effectiveness of email marketing. Here are ways to plan your marketing strategy.

Where to Begin: Lists

Contact lists are the bread-and-butter of marketing mailers. The first step is to gain subscribers for your marketing mailers.  Remember, subscribers will look for something that interests them before signing up to a newsletter.

Here are some tips to help you gain new subscribers:

New Content

Acquire and retain your subscribers with new and engaging content.

  • Offer Free Samples: Provide free sample products, informative content, or anything that will get people talking. Prospective customers will gladly sign up to a mailing list if they can benefit from it.
  • Run Contests/Competitions/Promotions: Competitions are common ways of building an email database. Prospective contacts eagerly submit an entry when it’s as simple as filing in an email address.
  • Provide Tips/Guides/Blog Posts/Whitepapers: People are always looking to improve themselves and their businesses. Provide frequent content on how they can do exactly that with tips, guides, and informative blog posts. These will make subscribers trust your emails as well as your business. It will also result in higher opens.

Social Media

Social media gives you access to thousands of passive contacts. The right content has the potential to turn their attention towards your business. Remember to link your content to a simple subscription form.

  • Good Content: Encourage downloading guides, free resources etc. through social media platforms. People often receive social media notifications on their phones and are bound to see your posts.
  • Social Links: Add a CTA button on your social media sites where visitors can sign up to exclusive content or receive marketing campaigns.
  • Campaign: Run a social media campaign providing content, and encouraging contacts to sign up to your marketing list.

Ticket to the Game

Once you have a contact list, the next step is creating well thought-out content. The ticket to the game is captivating your readers with amazing, personalised mailers they want to read. Here are some tips to help you:

Relevant Content

Use reporting tools to figure out what your subscribers respond to best. This information can also help personalise your mailers to each subscriber’s interest. Work out which days and times have the best open rates and send on those days.

Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are the best way to create interconnected newsletters, upcoming competitions, or reminders of specials. Dynamic email templates can create personalised content unique to each subscriber.

Read our Dynamic Attachments post for more information. 

Responsive Campaigns

Adestra conducted a study in May 2017 revealing that 61% of emails are opened on mobile, 16% on desktop and 23% on webmail. This means the mails you’re sending must be responsive to a reader’s chosen device or mail service.

Find out more in our Responsive Design: Beautiful Email Everywhere guide. 

Email Reports

Most email sending services have a reporting function with engagement statistics. This report usually gives details on how many people read your email, when they read it, and how many shared it on their social networks.

The system offers a detailed overview of every message sent, including the following:

  • Click and Open Rates: Our live reporting calculates each unique click and open.
  • Recipient Report: You can view in-depth statistics offering insights on every click-to-open, list interaction, SMS-on-bounce, unsubscribes, and complaints.
  • Social Sharing: This report shows you the number of times a contact shared your mailer on social media.
  • Platform Reporting: It is important to know which device your contacts use to read your emails. Our reports show you the top-performing devices and browsers so you can optimise your email design and test your emails are compatible with specific platforms.
  • Geolocation Reporting: This report is a map showing the location of your most engaged readers both nationally and internationally.

Email Marketing Metrics: Local Benchmarks

In our Benchmark Report, we analysed over 1 billion delivered emails to find the following rates:

  • Unsubscribe Rate: 0.33%
  • Complaints Rate: 0.049%
  • Unique Open Rate: 25.92%
  • Click to Open Rate: 13.05%
  • Click Through Rate: 3.55%

The benchmarks in this study will help you determine how your campaigns fare against others in your industry.

Read the full Benchmarks Report to see a breakdown of each industry average.

Respect Your Subscriber

Lastly, respect your subscriber and their personal information. Ensure your contacts opt-in to receive email communication. Make it simple and easy for your subscribers to unsubscribe from your mailing list. Remember, communicating with contacts who are not interested in your emails may tarnish your brand and reputation. This is where the POPI Act comes in.

Protection of Personal Information Act

Section 69 of the POPI Act states that in order for individuals to receive unsolicited communication, they must have either consented to the use of their personal information (opt-in), or there must be an existing relationship between the parties.

Don’t buy lists of contacts to build your email database. These lists usually contain spam traps, people who frequently get unsolicited emails, and inactive email addresses. Your sending reputation will be affected negatively and your emails will be considered spam.

You can download the POPI Guide to:
  • Maintain the quality of your data.
  • Keep accurate records of all processes.
  • Ensure the safety and security of data.


Email has been around for years and looks to remain that way for a long time. As technology changes, the way we send email changes too. As a result, a number of trends have developed over the years.


Marketing automation allows you to streamline your email and SMS marketing processes. It lightens the workload on your marketing team by allowing them to set up default reply emails, drip-campaigns, and automated messages.

With this system you can do the following:

  • Set up automation and triggers, create filters, and test message effectiveness through A/B Split Tests.
  • Improve your reputation with delivery reports, SPAM filters, and message tests.
  • SMS on bounce allows the system to automatically SMS contacts when their email address bounces.
  • Subscription forms add new contacts to your selected list. You can also receive notifications for each subscribe and unsubscribe.
  • Update my Profile lets your contacts manually update their personal information. Their changes will automatically be updated on the system.


There has been a steady increase, between 2012 and 2015, in the amount of people using mobile devices or tablets to read their emails. Readers now expect mails and newsletters to be viewable across all their devices with little difference to the experience.

Multi-Touch Email Marketing

Multi-touch marketing is the process of running a consistent campaign across a variety of channels to reinforce your brand and message. This would include door-to-door marketing, signboards, pamphlets, and the like.

Multi-touch email marketing uses the same process but on multiple digital platforms. Rather than just sending an email, you can create a unique landing page, and have SMS and social media campaigns. It’s an effective way of increasing awareness for your business and a great way to experiment with different marketing techniques. The results will help you gauge which channel brings the best response.

Aspects of Multi-Touch Email Marketing

There are some aspects to multi-touch marketing that will move contacts from prospective customers to loyal clients. The cycle is as follows:

  • Promotions: Run marketing campaigns to gain the attention of current and future customers. Introduce them to your brand and products with relevant, exciting content.
  • Lead Nurturing: Develop relationships with your contact list through each stage of their sales cycle. Your main focus should be marketing and communication. Listen to their needs and provide solutions and information.
  • Onboarding: While your relationship with customers grows, you can begin to familiarise them with your products or services. You can also provide personalised customer service that fulfils their needs.
  • Cross-Selling: As subscribers grow familiar with your products and services, they will be open to purchasing any additional products and services on offer.
  • Loyalty: Reward your consistent and long-term customers for their loyalty. Offer exclusive content, vouchers, etc. to retain them and encourage their loyalty.
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