Email marketing

Two Reasons Why Your Direct Marketing Campaign Isn’t On Fire

As a species we’ve come a long way. Not that long ago we were dangling from trees, sniffing our armpits and now we are planning to set up camp on Mars. But here is the truth of the matter – as much as we are constantly evolving, some things just remain the same. We have all the information in the world at our finger tips, but a lot of human decision making in the 21st century is still instinctive, and failing to tap into that, as a marketer, is indeed the most EPIC of fails.

Humans make instinctive decisions because that is how we are hard-wired!

If your direct marketing campaign isn’t on fire, you are failing to pull one of two levers, that have been around since man was swinging a club and dragging his knuckles on the ground:

  • The fear lever
  • The greed lever

Are there two emotions that get you to move quicker, than fear and greed do? I don’t think so. Remember how quickly you got off your ass to get another helping of dinner last night? And how quickly did you move when you received a late payment notification from SARS?

Greed and Fear.

Before we evolved into flabby couch potatoes, ordering take-out from Apps, the world was a much more cruel place. Survival of the fittest was the name of the game. If you didn’t move fast enough something would eat you up (plain and simple). And if you didn’t make sure you maximized every meal opportunity (ate until your stomach was about to explode) it might have meant that you wouldn’t make it to your next meal.

That extreme harshness we, as a species, had to endure in our earliest years, fine-tuned and hard-wired some internal emotion triggers that will remain with us for a million more years.

So as marketers why aren’t we always tapping into that?

If we know fear and greed are the strongest of human emotions, why do we still push out lukewarm direct marketing campaigns? It’s because we are getting lazy.

Let me better illustrate my point:

A life insurance company is looking to promote its product via email, so they do what every other life insurance company does and they put all the “amazing benefits” of the product into a stock-standard email creative.

Unfortunately, what they fail to realize is that 99% of people they are targeting couldn’t care about their snazzy new life insurance product.


Because it’s life insurance (and in the eyes of the consumer it’s all the same)

So what happens when the email campaign goes out? The results are iffy, at best, and the client walks away feeling disgruntled about the money they spent.

Perhaps a strong emotion like greed should have been the starting point when putting the marketing campaign together.

Instead of making the life insurance product the focus of the campaign, what if we started with an offer that was too good to be true, and we pulled the greed lever? Or perhaps the fear lever? Or perhaps both.

What if we said that if you took up the life insurance product you would get the 1st 3 months free – Get cover today & only start paying in January 2017.

Or perhaps,

Sign up before the end of the month and we will waive all medical exams.

Talk about fear…Who wants a needle in the arm before their life cover is issued? Saving on premiums takes care of the greed emotion. No medical underwriting clearly takes care of the fear emotion.

Perhaps we should add them together for a knock out life insurance campaign?

If you want people to move, scare the hell out of them or give them an incentive.

Or don’t and burn more marketing budget. Your choice.

Until next time.


Email marketing

Grab A Slice Of The Email Pie By Being A Cut Above The Rest

To say that I subscribe to a lot of email newsletters is a gross understatement! I subscribe to a ton of newsletters and basically have a dedicated email address set up just for my daily email subscription drop. Deal-a-day sites, stuff for dudes, hard hitting journalism and even a weekly tattoo newsletter…to name but a few. If you can name an email newsletter, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m subscribed to it.

And here is a little something I’ve picked up, trawling through endless subscription mailers day after day – the ones that are a cut above the rest have only two things in common:

They are consistent and relevant.

If you are sending email, the only question you need to be asking yourself is: “Are we being consistent and remaining relevant?”

Why is consistency key?

Because we are creatures of habit and we like everything in our life to be systematic and orderly. People that tell you they embrace change are lying through their teeth! Who wants change in their life? Change sucks. Change is work and work is effort and 99% of us, roaming around this rock, don’t want to exert more energy than is absolutely necessary.

When it comes to information consumption in the 21st century, consistency is key. There is so much information to consume that if we don’t have it delivered in an orderly fashion, our eyes just roll back and the drapes get drawn. Part of an email marketers job is to make sure the message he is delivering, is delivered when the end user expects it to be.

I want my morning news email delivered in my email inbox when I have my coffee at 07H15. 08H00 is too late because by then I have a mountain of other s%#@ to start dealing with. 07H30 is a push because my mind is already starting to prioritize my daily ‘to-do list’.

And I want my deal-a-day mailer delivered every day, not every second day (and believe me I have subscribed to some deal-a-day sites that don’t deliver every day)

You get my drift. Being consistent day in and day out is what separates the great email marketing from the good.

But consistency without relevance means nothing, right?

You can deliver your email to me at exactly 07H15 every morning but unless your message is relevant, you’ve wasted your time. Remain irrelevant and I soon become disinterested and basically a dormant worthless record in your database.

Understanding your audience is key to remaining relevant, so take your time and get your team to work out what it is that your subscribers like, don’t like or potentially might like. Then just give them the stuff they like and don’t over-complicate things.

Consistency and relevance – these are what count the most.

Remember, drop me a line if you need any assistance with your email marketing strategy or delivery.

Until next time.


Direct marketing

Bulletproof Your Direct Marketing Campaign Before It Kicks Off

There is nothing worse than having a direct marketing campaign fire off, and then realising, in a flat panic (having had your boss bring it to your attention) that their was an error in the campaign. It’s usually something as small as a typo, but incorrect remains incorrect and the axe is likely to fall on someone’s head for the screw up. Once your email or sms campaign starts, there is no ‘off button’ so follow this simple guide to make sure your campaign is bulletproof and avoid having the axe being dropped on your kop.

Test, then test again.

That is the digital marketing mantra before going live with anything. The reason why good digital marketers test again and again is because most of them have been burnt in the past by failing not to test.

  • Check the copy

Not all of us are blessed with great grammar and spelling skills. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and that’s cool. If you know this isn’t your strong point, get someone else to sign off on the campaign copy before you hand it over. I’ve seen some of the biggest brands in SA send out direct marketing copy that clearly wasn’t signed off, and it’s a bad reflection when a multi-billion Rand company misspells a simple five letter word. An SMS message is only 160 characters long, so there ain’t any excuses for messing it up.

  • Check the CI guidelines

Big brands are really particular about their Corporate Identity, and you can’t blame them – they spend millions on their brand, so they have a right to demand that their logo is represented in a particular manner. If you are sending any direct marketing campaign that requires CI sign off do it before you blast off a message to millions of people, with the client’s brand completely misrepresented. Not only will the client never book again, you might even face a lawsuit (and who needs that drama in your life).

  • Deliver a test message (then deliver another test message)

If you are sending an SMS message, send yourself a test before you go live with the campaign. If there is a “reply” element to the SMS marketing message, reply to the message and test the response that you are looking for. If it’s a call back from a call centre, how long does it take? Does it meet your expectations? Does the call centre agent have an idea how the inquiry was generated?

Check every step of the process before you go live.

And it’s not a bad idea to remain on the marketing list if you are sending multiple SMS messages over a period of time.

If you are sending an email campaign, make sure you have checked the following key checklist items:

  1. The email renders in all the email clients correctly (like Outlook and Gmail).
  2. Are the links working? There is nothing worse than receiving an email you are interested in, and when you click on the link you get that dreaded 404 message (Oops the link is broken).
  3. Have you tested the landing page? It doesn’t help re-directing someone to a landing page and you have errors on that page
  4.  Are all the images pulling through from the server? Imagery in your mailers are critical, but they need to be served correctly
  5. Does the mailer render across all devices (desktop, tablet, mobile)? More and more people are picking up emails on their mobile devices, so sending an email that isn’t built in responsive design is useless.
  6. Has someone signed off on the subject line? Don’t assume you have creative license to knock out a subject line on behalf of a client.

Send yourself the email you want to deliver to thousands of people. If it makes you happy, the chances are it will make your audience happy.

Direct marketing is like any other marketing channel – you have a message, a creative (might just be 160 characters) and a target audience. Make sure your creative is 100% correct and your delivery channel has been tested before you give the green light.

Drop us a line if you want to chat about any direct marketing campaigns you want us to assist you with.

Until next time.


Direct marketing

For God’s Sake Man, Please Incentivize Your Campaign!

Let’s face it, nowadays we are only moved to action when there is something in it for us, right? Without a seriously BIG carrot, very few of us pay attention to anything anymore (let alone marketing or advertising). And that’s not so much our fault, our internal firewalls are just set to  hyper-filter mode in order to cut out all the “fluffy B&%$#@” and only allow our 3 pound grey-matter to focus on anything that is super interesting, completely out of the ordinary or focuses on the only question that really matters to us – What’s in it for me?

Am I right in saying this?

As an advertiser 15 years ago, all you needed to do was take the car you wanted to sell, identify your target audience, spend a few bucks on highlighting the features and benefits, in a TV advert and sit back while the orders rolled in.

Why isn’t that enough anymore?

Because I can get 10 cars with the same features and benefits at exactly the same price point today. So what else are you going to offer me to make the sale, Mr Advertising Guy?

This is the type of stuff you start seeing in TV commercials as a result (and it didn’t exist 5 years ago)

  • “Buy now and only pay in Jan 2017”
  • “Guaranteed buy-back”
  • “Free insurance for a year”

The car is no longer the focus of the advert, it’s the add-ons that are the hook. The so-called value adds…

And fair game to the marketers / advertisers who come up with this stuff. It’s a competitive space out there and you have to have a clever hook nowadays, otherwise your messages just doesn’t get heard.

Now the reason I bring this up is only because I recently had a potential client, who insisted that their service offering was indeed a good enough hook to attract tens of thousands of new people to their emailing list.

The brief was simple: Get people to subscribe to their mailing list.

What wasn’t that simple was trying to convince the prospective client that in order to get thousands of people to subscribe to their mailing list we needed to give them a reason to subscribe. That as much as they believed their service offering was so WOW, people ultimately don’t care.

“What’s in it for them?”

That is indeed the question everyone needed to ask themselves.

I never did get the greenlight to run the campaign with an incentive, so I turned it down.

Turns out someone else sparked up a campaign, then it was paused, then it started again and finally it died a horrible death.


Because nobody moves nowadays without a big carrot.

Remember that next time you want to get your campaign off the ground (or your kids to do the dishes).

I can’t help you with your kids, but I can help you with your sms or email marketing campaigns. Drop me a line if you want to chat.

Until next time


Email marketing

4 Questions You Need To Ask Before Firing Off Your Email Campaign

I’ve always believed you can only call yourself an “expert” if you make your living from the very thing you claim to be an expert in. If you brew beer and make a living from it, I would consider you a beer brewing expert. But, if you make a living as an investment banker, and dabble in craft beer brewing, on the weekend, you are a hobbyist at best. Every one of the guys who contributes to this blog makes a great living from direct marketing, so we believe that qualifies us to call ourselves experts in the field of direct marketing, and as a result we are confident in handing out some advice via our blog.

In this week’s blog post we look at 4 simple questions you need to ask yourself before you fire off any email marketing campaign.

Let’s start with this – Are you doing any email marketing?

If email doesn’t form part of your digital marketing strategy, you are seriously missing a trick!

The truth is, if executed correctly, a well-thought-out email marketing campaign has one of the highest potential returns on marketing spend. And let’s face it, there isn’t a business out there which doesn’t want to get more mileage out of their overstretched marketing budget, right?

“With a return on investment (ROI) of 38 to 1 on every Dollar invested, email has the highest ROI among digital channels”
2016 State Of Email Report – Litmus

But let’s park the fact that email marketing offers crazy ROIs (as tough as that might be to do).

The real strength of email, as a digital marketing channel, lies in relationship building and customer retention, and it might well come as a surprise to you, but people actually want to receive well-thought-out and interesting email.

If it provides a great ROI, builds relationships and retains customers, why isn’t every business doing email marketing? It seems like a no-brainer, right?

Well, putting together a successful email marketing campaign can be tougher than it seems, if you go into it not being able to answer a couple of basic questions.

Sure, you can labour over the email creative, what subject line you are going to use and how often you are going to send. But, without knowing what the objective of the campaign is (and how you are going to measure it), you’re dead in the water before you have even started.

Because we are a bunch of dudes (we always like to keep things nice and simple), so we’ve narrowed our critical questions down to just 4:

  • What is the objective of the campaign?
  • What is the value exchange?
  • What is the desired outcome?
  • What are the success metrics?

Let’s look at a quick example to better illustrate the point:

BIC Insurance Brokers specialize in car insurance policies and have more than 10 000 existing clients on their books. They are looking to start an email marketing campaign to cross-sell a new life insurance offering into their existing policyholder base.

Cool, seems easy enough, so let’s ask ourselves a few questions and see if we can come up with good enough answers to push this from an idea into a campaign.

Q: What is the objective of the email campaign?

A: To cross-sell life insurance to an existing customer base

Q: What is the value exchange?

A: Existing policyholders get a reduced rate if they take up the time sensitive life cover offer

Q: What is the desired outcome?

A: To cross-sell 10% of the existing policyholder base and book 1000 new life insurance policies before October  2016.

Q: What are the success metrics?

A: 1000 new life insurance policies on books at an average premium of R200pm (R200 000 in
new premium income) before October 2016.

It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than this.

Before you get carried away with the “fluff” take some time to make sure you know exactly what you want out of your email marketing campaign.

Need any assistance with your email marketing strategy or campaigns? Drop us a line.


Direct marketing

5 Ways To Convince Your Client “Direct Marketing” Isn’t A Dirty Word

Are you considering adding direct marketing channels, like sms and email to your client pitch, but you’re concerned the phrase “direct marketing” has a seriously negative connotation? We don’t want you worrying about being frog-marched from the boardroom and fretting about losing a potential pitch because you told your client they should send a text message instead of running a 728 x 90 banner on Fin24.

Why direct marketing has such a bum rap, I don’t know. It’s kinda like box wine, everybody used to enjoy a glass in the kitchen, now you wouldn’t be caught dead with your “papsak” at a braai (both are ‘oh so unfashionable’…). My point is that direct marketing has been around for decades because it works (just like wine in a box still delivers the same result as wine in a bottle) but in the new-age of digital marketing, buzz words like “programmatic buying” and “paid search”, are a much sexier sell to prospective clients.

So why is it that marketing managers are loathe to pitch an email or sms campaign?

Is it because email and sms marketing simply don’t work anymore? Nah, it’s got absolutely nothing to do with that!

It’s actually the “absolute directness” of direct marketing that has most marketing managers anxious about throwing it in the campaign mix – and as a result they completely overlook it. Sending an sms or email message directly to someone’s inbox gets people, who sign off on marketing budgets, so nervous that they would rather throw money in ten different directions before investing a cent into sms or email channels.

And it’s such a contradiction, isn’t it? We all have to agree that the most direct forms of marketing communication are the most effective. If I asked you if you want a slice of cake? Your answer would either be Yes or No. You can’t dodge the question because it is being fired directly at you.

But if I only left my cake specials up on my restaurant chalk board, would you even know the offers existed? Probably not. You have more chance selling cake by asking your patrons directly (no-brainer)

Direct marketing works because of the “absolute directness” of the message, but it’s the “absolute directness” of the marketing that has everyone getting all hot and bothered.

So where does the anxiety stem from?

4 letters sum it all up – SPAM

And SPAM is bad for another 5 letter word – BRAND

No brand wants to be associated with SPAM – An irrelevant or inappropriate message sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.

Nowadays, every mass marketing message is considered SPAM. Seems a little unfair to me.

If the very definition of SPAM is ” an irrelevant or inappropriate messaging to a large number of recipients” then what if the messaging is:

  • very relevant
  • completely appropriate
  • sent to a small niche target audience

Is the marketing message then considered SPAM?

If I sent an sms marketing message to a group of moms with school going kids about after-school daycare services, at really affordable rates, would the message be:

  • irrelevant
  • inappropriate
  • considered mass marketing

Let’s get real! You need to call a thing a a thing! We can all recognize SPAM when we see it, but it would be naive to think that every bit of mass electronic communication is SPAM.

Here are 5 ways to convince your client that direct marketing should form part of their overall marketing strategy:

  • It’s perfectly legal to send direct marketing messages like sms and email (this is key)
  • A targeted, well thought-out marketing message, delivered by sms or email, to an opt-in database is not SPAM (it’s SMART)
  • People who respond to direct marketing messages are genuinely interested in your product or service
  • It’s far more measurable than other marketing campaigns
  • It’s far more cost effective than other marketing initiatives

If you still having a problem convincing your client, drop me a line and I will meet you at your next client pitch.


Marketing budget

The Moment You Realize You’ve Still Got Marketing Budget, But F#*# All Options

We’ve all experienced that harrowing moment when you realize you still have loads of marketing budget, but every channel you’ve explored has come up short (it’s time to reach for that rooi wyn and pack of styvie blues!). And clients can be uncompromising, can’t they? So what the hell do you do when you still have loads of marketing budget left in the month, but very few tricks left up your sleeve?

It’s our role as marketers to take our clients spend and get the best possible return on that money, right? I mean, in essence our job is nothing more than identifying the right target audience, positioning the correct message to that group, and then delivering the cheapest knockout message (with the most oomph) in order to drive as many people as we can towards a decision (and 90% of the time that decision ultimately needs to be a buying decision).

I mean it’s easy…yeah, right!

We all “sweat bullets” for our clients, and for the most part,we generally get it right 95% of the time. But, if I had R10 000 bucks for every time a campaign has run 100% smoothly, without any hiccups, I would have already retired on a tropical island, rocking my tie-dye vest and working on my plan to open a gin distillery.

The fact is, things seldom pan out exactly the way we want them to (in business and in life) and the smartest marketers I know are the most agile ones (and also those with the most contacts).

So back to the burning question?

What do you do if you have loads of marketing budget left and you’ve exhausted all your existing options?


I mean, how cool would it be to pick up the phone and book some budget with a channel you know delivers?

It should be as easy at that, but here is the real problem…

Marketers aren’t necessarily the best communicators or even great networkers.

The above-the-line agency guys seldom talk to the below-the-line guys. The dudes running banners and booking impressions seldom chat to the social media guys, who seldom talk to the direct marketing guys, who never talk to the paid search boys.

You get my drift?

Everybody is fighting for their own piece of the client pie (and like greedy school children, nobody is looking to share any of the cake)

Seems a little silly to me that we all face exactly the same problems when it comes to spending client budget, but yet we seldom look beyond our areas of expertise for fresh, interesting, and more importantly, potentially prosperous long-term partnerships?

Here is a perfect example of what I am getting at:

A good client of ours has a very strong relationship with a major SA telecoms company. He is a banner display dude and at a certain point last month ran up against a brick wall when it was pretty apparent he had more cellphone enquiries to deliver than days left in the month.

We’ve all experienced that sickening feeling!

So what did he do? He picked up the phone and called on a channel he knows will deliver for him.

We built a marketing plan that met his brief, executed it on behalf of him and absolutely killed it for the cellphone provider.

Banner guy needs help, so he turns to the direct marketing guys to assist. And we know we can call on him for exactly the same assistance.

We are the very best at what we do (if you don’t know what that is, click here) and I’m assuming you feel the same about what you do? If getting the best possible result for your clients is always your number one priority, perhaps we should be chatting and seeing what type of synergies exist.

Or we can just keep hitting the rooi wyn and styvie ten packs when we still have budget to spend and nobody to call.

Drop us a line if you are keen to see what synergies might exist.