E-mail marketing rules are changing in South Africa

ID-10094198 (Stuart Miles)

Marketers using e-mail marketing in South Africa might be in for a rude awakening. So far companies got away with sending unsolicited email as long as they provided an opt-out solution (even without that not much happened). Particularly small business owners didn’t think much of sending an electronic flyer to whoever happened to be in their address book, very often even adding all those addresses into the cc field for all to see.

However, with the new proposed legislation to the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act business owners better educate themselves on what is allowed and what is not when it comes to e-mail marketing in South Africa. The new amendment carries fines of up to R 1,000,000 or 12 months imprisonment according to David Graham, from Deloitte SA. In a recent article with a video post he explains the details to the new amendment.

It’s not just compliance to the law, it’s also your reputation that’s at stake

Lately I have come across more and more e-mail marketing from particularly small businesses unknowingly sending out e-mail that is against the laws and has no other reason of being than getting me to buy whatever they offer. I then politely reply explaining how they are not compliant but unfortunately it is met with silence. South Africans really need to realise these new laws are for real and if you annoy clients they will report you eventually. Most importantly it is actually not even about the law, what really concerns me is these people are killing their reputation.

Many small business e-mail marketers appear like spammers without realising they do.

Of course elsewhere in the world the laws have been strict for a long time and non of the big service providers (like Mailchimp, Aweber, iContact, etc.) will allow you to send any e-mail to anyone who hasn’t opted in first. In the Hubspot software you’re greeted with a triple question pop up upon importing contacts to make sure you are compliant with the laws and you have to “sign” it with your initials.

What is one to do then? In the following little slideshare I take a humorous but serious look at email marketing done wrong. Explaining how small business owners ruin their reputation without realising they do so. I hope this will help educate the public so we can all start producing email marketing that is not only compliant but actually works and has people loving it. If you liked it please share it.

I achieve opening rates of 30-60% and click through rates of 50-80% for my clients because e-mail marketing is far from dead but instead working extremely well, if you do it right. It’s worth learning how to do it so people want to open and click your e-mails!

Like it? Embed it on your own website! Grab this code and paste it on your own blog or website:

<iframe src=”http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/17677102″ width=”427″ height=”356″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” style=”border:1px solid #CCC;border-width:1px 1px 0;margin-bottom:5px” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen> </iframe> <div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/BettinaHorvath/youre-killing-your-reputation” title=”E-mail marketing: You&#39;re killing your reputation” target=”_blank”>E-mail marketing: You&#39;re killing your reputation</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/BettinaHorvath” target=”_blank”>Digital Marketing Ninja</a></strong> </div>

Quick do’s and don’ts of e-mail marketing

As a summary, here are some quick tips to make sure you are not contravening any laws here or elsewhere in the world:

  • Always send only email to people who have opted-in to receive communication from you. Usually that is done via a form on your website.
  • Never add any email address to your database without permission. Never. After you met someone personally send them a once off direct email with a link to your content where they can subscribe to it.
  • Never send mass emails via your normal email programme, first you might inadvertently add people in the cc field, secondly you can’t really mass mail from those programmes due to their limits and thirdly you don’t have any statistics whatsoever about the effectiveness of your campaign.
  • Provide an easy opt-out option. A reply message is not easy. A one click option is best.

What to do instead:

  • Build your list organically. Produce a piece of content that is interesting to people and for which they are willing to give you their email address. (I have a social media ebook on my site which I’m busy updating, and a free assessment, a blog email subscription is another form of content, see top right here on this page)
  • Never use emails to only promote and sell, use emails to deliver relevant content to your audience.

    Always ask yourself before sending “How is this email going to help each recipient?”. Tweet this.

  • If you don’t have anything valuable to say then don’t say anything at all. Better to keep your reputation in tact than have you seen as a spammer.
  • When it comes to digital marketing think like a publisher and you’re off to a good start

    Good content = readership

  • Educate yourself on how inbound marketing works and how you can effectively use e-mail marketing to drive a contact through the buying cycle and funnel.
  • Start using one of the big service providers. Mailchimp offers a freemium model, for lists of up to 2,000 names you don’t even have to pay for it.
  • Most importantly BE someone people would like to hear from in their inbox.

There are no short cuts in marketing. It takes time and effort, not to mention money, to build a reputation, to build a brand, to build an attentive audience, to gain the trust of your audience. But doing so pays dividends your grandchildren will still appreciate and in today’s world it is easier than ever for the smallest of businesses to attract a big audience.

Do you have any more questions on this subject? Do leave them in the comments. I might even ask David or Daniella from Deloitte to chime in if needed.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net