15 tips to get more sign up’s to your email newsletter

15 tips to get more sign up’s to your email newsletter

Hand drawing orange arrow as trend leader with many white arrows as follower

Email is the biggest marketing tool online today because everyone who uses the internet has an email address and we check the contents of our email inbox daily. This means that, on a daily basis, every email we receive gets our personal attention making email newsletter marketing one of the strongest and most powerful online tools if you own a website. When you attract more online subscribers to your email newsletter you are increasing your business networking potential

While Facebook may get you hundreds of Likes and LinkedIn might get you accepted into industry circles, email marketing directly links you to your own community of customers which you can nurture and grow along an every expanding network of communications that will build better business relationships.

How can you increase the rate of sign ups to your company newsletter? Take a look at the following checklist:

  1. Your call-to-action must be visible enough that it stands out from the page as soon as they land on your site. Depending on your website design and your industry sector, consider either a pop up box, a call-to-action at the top of the right hand side bar, placement in the comment section or at the bottom of your blog page.
  2. Offer a promotion, an incentive, competition or giveaway to entice them to sign up. Make signing up meaningful and worthwhile, for example: ‘Receive this one day Marketing 101 course for free when join our community of like-minded entrepreneurs’.
  3. Make the process of signing up as quick and easy as possible – an email address is all you need to ask them for.
  4. Communicate the added value they will receive when signing up to your newsletter. Step inside their shoes and consider what might be a benefit to being a subscriber? You may want to offer access to industry white papers, free download kits or additional workshops for subscribers only. Be sure to include an online archive of past newsletters so they will have idea of what to expect to receive from you in the future.
  5. Be honest about the frequency of your newsletter, whether you state it is weekly, monthly, bi-monthly or ‘periodically’.
  6. Give them guarantees and privacy policy sureties that you won’t sell or share their email address with anyone else.
  7. Make it easy for them to forward your newsletter to a friend by adding a ‘Forward to a friend’ link into your newsletter.
  8. Spring board sign-up offers on your other social media platforms. Post deals on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn that require an email signup in order to benefit.
  9. Include a newsletter call-to-action in your About section and Contact pages on all your social media platforms.
  10. Place a call-to-action link to your newsletter signup page in your email signature.
  11. Choose an attention-grabbing title for your newsletter and include the word ‘free’ somewhere visibly prominent.
  12. Compare two versions of your sign up form to see which one performs better, also known as A/B testing. Pay particular attention to button colour, placement on the web page, copy style, content and tone.
  13. Make sure the content of your newsletter is beneficial and stimulating to your readers on a consistent and ongoing basis. If your newsletter is badly written, long-winded or comes across as pure self-promotion, you will do more harm than good to your brand online.
  14. Use eye-catching images, short captions and excerpts in your email newsletter links to lead them towards the high points of your newsletter’s content online.
  15. It is worth using a professional writing service or freelance editor to ensure you maintain an ongoing and professional newsletter communication that both engages and stimulates your target market.

This article was written by Mercedes Westbrook of Firehorse Media. Reach me on C: 0789707633 or mercedes@firehorsemedia.co.za; or visit www.firehorsemedia.co.za

5 Content Marketing tips for SMEs

5 Content Marketing tips for SMEs

content marketing

Content marketing puts the world in your hands

Use content marketing to your advantage when you are see your customers as human beings and not just dollar signs for your bottom line. Content marketing requires that we listen to our customers and respond to their needs in real time.  When we provide solutions to our customers pain points via our content marketing drive we are mobilising our business and gaining a foothold in the thriving online and social media marketplace.

What is content marketing? Content marketing is the creation, publication, and distribution of articles, press releases, images, and video to attract and acquire a target audience.

Every business needs marketing, whether it is a start-up IT company or a tyre manufacturing business. Most of us are already using marketing strategies in some form or another through distribution of our marketing materials, our sales pitch, website and application of a database.


Why you Need to Automate your Online Media Plan

Why you Need to Automate your Online Media Plan

Advertising spend has traditionally been expensive but digital media buyers are able to cut costs by up to ten times the budget by understanding and efficiently using Programmatic Media Buying (PMB). Delivering a targeted message across all devices, the advertisement reaches the right audiences with the right messages at exactly the right time in the customer’s buying journey.

Programmatic marketing is the latest technology solution available to South African marketers. Already a $12 billion market globally, it is expected to reach $33 billion by 2017. With an outsized share of the pie, currently, 85% of US advertisers and 72% of publishers use programmatic strategies and its fast gaining ground in South Africa’s digital and mobile-connected landscape.

Shrewd marketers and media buyers use automation to track and trace a customer’s journey across South Africa’s multiple media channels. By combining all the data into one dashboard, programmatic provides a transparent view into an advertising campaign in real time. It allows for a more targeted analysis of data, dynamic creative adjustments and delivery of a more relevant conversation with the required audience.

So what does it mean for brand marketers? No wastage of brand budgets, more accountability of spend for chief marketing officers (CMO’s), and increased efficiency. Programmatic advertising technology removes the spreadsheets, manual insertion orders and menial tasks and makes the ad buying system more efficient and effective. It empowers brand managers to align organisational workflows to programmatic’s automation technology – capable of working faster than any human capabilities. This means marketers can spend more time planning and interacting with the client and creative departments towards more customised consumer campaigns. It allows creative teams time to focus on formulating more relevant and engaging campaigns for their target audiences.

What does it mean for consumers? Audiences are more likely to engage and respond at the moment of delivery when the message is most relevant to them. It serves direct response and branding because it targets the eyeballs and not the channel. It is a direct path with a relevant message.

What hasn’t changed within the branding landscape is that advertisers don’t want to waste money. The benefit is that they maintain direct control of the budget. Programmatic media buying holds budgets accountable and returns the highest amount of value possible. It exponentially increases and quantifies the chances of an advertisement being viewed by the right audiences to drive the sales return of a message. Back by full reporting, programmatic data delivers transparency of spend.

Programmatic marketing is recognised as a powerful tool for marketers to gain the most leverage from their marketing spend. However there still seems to be confusion in the market that it is merely real-time bidding (RTB).

“Programmatic buying is not the same as real-time bidding. Real time bidding is  automated ad buying through real-time auctions,” explains  Craig Utermark, CEO of Atmosphere Orange, one of the first digital media management companies to deliver a bespoke programmatic marketing service into the South African market. “Programmatic marketing automates the buying, placement and optimisation of advertising and delivers a higher ROI through digital platform efficiencies across Exchanges, trading desks, and Data Management Platforms (DMPs). It is a more far-reaching platform that performs more complex decision across a variety of systems, including website content management, email, call center enabled chat, mobile apps, and CRM systems.”

This means that media buyers have access to far more data than ever before as they reach wider and better targeted audiences. With the speed of sales generated by click-through and conversion rates, digital marketing allows demographic, behavioural and contextual targeting and remarketing to niche audiences. Constantly refining audience targeting means more metrics. With more metrics comes more measurement of cost per conversion (CPC), effective cost per thousand (CPM) and overall online reach and scaleability to support inbound marketing strategies and calculate the return on investment (ROI) of marketing efforts. Lead nurturing is one of the most powerful aspects of programmatic as it is capable of identifying exactly where people are in the sales journey.

The shift from traditional to digital advertising means delivery of a more responsive cross device advertising campaign. Campaigns run seamlessly over multiple digital platforms and the different screens on which they are being delivered, be it on a phone, tablet, laptop, video or television. Dedicated teams – such as that of Atmosphere Orange – interact with advertisers and brand marketers to integrate and leverage the data, optimising and recalibrating campaigns in real time. Not only does the campaign benefit from an increase in scale and targeting potential, it ensures operational speed and efficiency. This is backed up by transparent tracking and reporting and an opportunity to optimise and recalibrate campaigns continuously.

Programmatic marketing is without a doubt the future of online advertising. South African brand advertisers will need to embrace this new technology within the marketing process if they want to increase business revenue and achieve true omni-channel, customer-centric reach.

What is delaying uptake in South Africa is that not enough marketers truly understand the process and how to best navigate their brands through it.

Says Utermark: “For our clients already on-board, we find that once they see the process in action they are better able to understand and see the advantages and opportunities it offers as a powerful channel to market. Experience is the best teacher. With that in mind, we offer South African brand marketers the opportunity to engage with us on a provisional campaign basis so they can see the results for themselves. One of the strongest tools in the programmatic box is its efficiency and transparency. Once they see the results and experience the reach and conversations, we usually end up sitting across the desk from a very happy CMO wanting to know more.”

Embrace ad tech strategy or risk brand lethargy

Embrace ad tech strategy or risk brand lethargy

You wake up one day and everything you thought you knew about marketing is obsolete. Welcome to digital age disruption in media buying and consumer messaging as marketing processes undergo a massive data-driven transformation.

You sit in your office buried under a mountain of data, but what does it mean and how do you analyse it? The biggest challenges advertisers, brand managers and publishers are facing is how to interpret all the data we have access to. Internet technology has made it possible to receive huge amounts of data about customers and expect more to keep coming. According to Forbes.com researchers at Cornell University have developed algorithms that can learn by merely observing human behaviour, these are computers so advanced they can detect and act on patterns in real time without having to understand them.

According to a 2015 CMO.com survey, digital marketing is expected to grow by 14.7% next year compared to a negative growth rate of 1.1% for traditional advertising. Marketing spend will see mobile triple from 3.2% to 9% of marketing budgets over just three years and 126% on social media over the next five years. This will see marketers spending more on marketing analytics. Currently analytics accounts for 6.4% of marketing budgets; this is expected to increase 83% to 11.7% in three years.

Don’t panic. You don’t need to go back to university. If you are stuck in a traditional style of marketing and decision making, you are going to feel challenged by data technology. This is when to call in the experts.

“We find that brand developers and advertising agencies often find themselves with simply too much information to handle. It is the old needle in a haystack conundrum; they know that somewhere there is something of real value but don’t know how to find it in order to manage or manipulate it. This is where programmatic media buying’s automation comes in to save the day with time efficiency, costs and meaningful results,” says Chanel MacKay, MD of digital media agency Atmosphere Orange.

prospecting with programmatic

The Pro Shop, which has been in operation for 40 years, had just this marketing challenge. Says Marketing Manager Trevor Rebello: “At one stage, we did dabble with online advertising but found we had to think hard about which websites would work for our products and where our market would be visiting. We were stuck with outdated thought processes which focussed mainly on traditional forms of media and on an older LSM as we felt this was where spend was. Working with Atmosphere Orange changed our approach. We moved away from a static product information focus to new product launch initiatives instead. We now have 30 000 – 40 000 unique visits to our own website each month and are probably one of the biggest golfing websites in South Africa. When customers want to buy golf clubs they come directly to us. As a result, we currently set aside monthly budgets for our online advertising. Atmosphere Orange finds the golfers for us,” says Rebello.

MacKay confirms that much of their role involves an educational factor: “We introduce brand managers, CMO’s, CIO’s and CEO’s to programmatic media buying, we manage the data and audience targeting for the brand and guide the brand’s marketing strategy along an effective online communication strategy that will quickly transform their business model.”

Another leading company on the marketing fast track is Cape-based agency Tag 8. “We currently partner with Atmosphere Orange on the digital aspect for two of our clients, and we have seen a real boost in business for both our clients,” says Belinda Taylor, Media Mind at Tag 8. “Programmatic marketing in the digital space has reach and offers such a defined target market across a variety of sites. It’s affordable and it’s trackable and it delivers on a brand’s campaign objectives. When a client has clearly defined objectives and KPIs they need to meet, we always motivate for RTB if it aligns with the campaigns goals.

As advertising technology continues to develop new marketing processes, the automation of buying and selling advertising online has progressed beyond that of human capabilities. Technology is a useful tool when you know how to use it. If you don’t, hand it over to the experts. Data gathered regarding consumer behaviour must first be translated into technical metrics for programmes and machines to understand it.

It is marketing professionals that drive innovative campaigns that speak to consumer emotions. It is digital media buyers who must still make decisions on where to reserve inventory and how to remarket the message back to consumers, supported by the skills of the brand’s creative teams, to execute a cross channel communication strategy.

What will success look like?
1) A new world of informed decision making.
2) Increasingly more effective creative and brand messaging.
3) The automation of processes that were previously time consuming and repetitive. 4) Swift execution of one brand message across multiple channels.
5) Effective measurement of campaign success.
6) Further optimisation of your brand message as more data is gathered following interaction with individual consumers in real time.
7) More effective use of marketing budgets and better returns on investment.

What will you have gained?
Improvement of your skillsets, efficient marketing processes, and the use of  intelligent data to promote your brand. When marrying your marketing and communication strategy, your brand is elevated towards a more interactive customer-centric offering.

“Programmatic marketing takes a brands marketing strategy and transforms it into a cost-efficient communication strategy. Today, it is how you deliver marketing ideas that count.  With consistent messaging across all channels of mobile, display and video, programmatic media buying provides the influence required to make the sale,” says Chanel MacKay, MD of Atmosphere Orange. “Our job is to ensure efficiency in the buying and selling of advertising in the digital space.  We are able to demystify the newest technologies and show non-technical marketers how to use them to precisely target each message to each individual.”

Whether a brand wants to prospect, brand or convert, a programmatic communication strategy decides on the ‘how’ as well as the ‘where’ of the best medium to apply the marketing plan. “We sit on the execution side of selling,” says MacKay. “We are all about the relationship function. We understand the tactics needed for the technology and time-sensitive value propositions required for   potential customers spending time on the digital platform.”

The rules have changed. Online display ads are routinely bought and sold through automated exchanges. Demographic data is just the first step on the programmatic marketing journey in finding and reaching your target audience on a one-to-one and personalised brand communication basis.

If your key focus for your brand is not on the impact technology has on a new way of doing business, you run the risk of lethargy. One of the greatest obstacles to innovations in companies is executives who fear change and remain anxious about their technological limitations. But responds Mackay: “Where in life are you expected to know everything. If you have a toothache, you book an appointment at a dentist. If your car needs repair you go see a mechanic. With big budget campaigns, you want to know that you are receiving high returns on your investment, that your campaign is transparent, that it is reaching exactly who you want to be talking to in any given moment.”

What conversations are you having with your customers on their digital journey? Do they know you even exist?


Choice and opportunity cost

Choice and opportunity cost

One of the most basic principles of economics – opportunity cost – according to the Economist’s definition, is ‘the true cost of what you have to give up to get it.

Brad was shopping for his first hi fi stereo and had spent an hour debating between a R6 600 Pioneer and a R5 000 Sony. Fearing Brad’s indecision might cost him a sale, the salesman interjected saying “Think of it this way – would you rather have the Pioneer, or the Sony and R1 600 worth of CDs?”

Brad’s face lit up. The decision was clear, the Sony – and by a large margin. Fifteen new CDs were too great a sacrifice for the slightly more attractive Pioneer. Although Brad was quite capable of doing the math, he hadn’t considered that until the salesman pointed it out.

One constant in all our lives is that we must make choices. You make choices from the time you get out of bed in the morning until you go to sleep at night. All decisions involve opportunity costs, no matter the size of the decision.

Opportunity cost is your next best alternative – your second choice – and something you value. A brilliant ad by De Beers depicted two large diamond earrings with the tagline “Redo the kitchen next year.” Implying the cost of the diamonds was merely a slight delay in a renovation.

Why is opportunity cost important? Opportunity cost is what you give up when you make a decision. When you ask yourself what you are giving up when you make a certain choice, it forces you to think more critically about all of the other options that you are not choosing. It also forces you to think about the follow-up question connected to your decision – is it worth it? You may find that when you think clearly about all of your options and identify the opportunity costs of your choices, perhaps your choice is not worth what you will choose to give up.


How much is your time worth?
Your time is valuable, but how much is it really worth? When your flight is delayed by two hours, you might say ‘what a waste of time’ but do you ever say ‘that’s R1 000 of my time down the drain? It’s whatever your salary works out to per hour.

The opportunity-cost equation simply tells you what the cost of your time is, not how you should spend it or how you want to spend it. If you would prefer to read a book than work another hour, that says that you value the time relaxing more than your salary rate. All this calculation gives you is a benchmark against which to consider what you are doing with your time. The crucial application is in thinking about how you want to spend your time

Consider stationery shopping. You can order through your stationer and have the supplies delivered in a day or two. Or you can go to a wholesaler and spend two hours out the office. There’s no delivery fee for the former, but maybe there are higher priced items and a markup. Which is the better way to shop?  This opportunity-cost idea makes the decision easy: Is the markup or higher prices smaller than the value of two hours of your time? If yes, delivery. If no, head to the car.

Applying opportunity-cost theory won’t always change your behaviour but can simply be a useful tool to understand why things are the way they are.

Considering E-Commerce?

Considering E-Commerce?

A quick look at the pros and cons of entering the online retail market

Online shopping in South Africa has continued to hit record highs, especially during last year’s holiday season when online spending increased between 30-40% compared to previous years. The country’s internet economy has been projected to double to R103bn by 2016 from the R51billion recorded in 2011.

Recent studies reveal that the internet economy contributes 2% to South Africa’s GDP and this contribution is rising by about 0.1% every year, resulting in 2.5% increases by 2016.

What does this mean for South African’s retailers?

An increase in online shopping is driving structural changes in the retail sector, according to a recent report issued by PwC.

Online users in South Africa tend to fall within the medium to high-income sector of the population. “This group appears to have a strong pent-up demand for online services,” says John Wilkinson, PwC Retail and Consumer Leader in South Africa.

However, Wilkinson says that South Africa’s online retail market is still relatively small and niche with a strong focus on consumer products such as books, music and DVDs. “This is unlike many of the developed markets, such as Asia and Australia, where there has been an explosive growth of online retailers. Suffice to say there is huge online potential that has yet to be discovered and tapped in South Africa.”

Having already set up an important channel for their long-term future are Edcon’s CNA division, Walton’s with their e-store and Mr Price which are all already operating in the online retail market.

So how easy is it to tap into this market? Let’s consider the pro’s and con’s:

The Pro’s:
There’s no loss to theft
You have access to 24 hour sales
You have national and international reach
Less employees are required
You can collect more data and get better visibility of your customers buying behaviour online, from age and location demographics, initial search terms, related items they are interested in and much more, easily collected via a simple analytics program.
You look bigger than you actually are
You van stock more items. A retail storefront will perform better for a business that sells a select amount of products, while an online store may work better for a business that carries an extensive selection.
Environmental factors such as position, weather, traffic, parking or increased petrol prices don’t affect you.
No bottlenecks or customer queues
Your customers can easily promote your products via sharing on social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest at the click of a button. (Word of mouth marketing is very powerful and it is much easier for you to encourage this via an online store.)

The Cons:|
There is more competition online –  the web is where people go to get bargains and consequently competition is fierce. Margins in online retail tend of be lower than on the high street and so retailers need to compensate by selling more.
There is more admin required
There is less customer contact
There is no touch or feel of quality for customers and returns are time-consuming
There are lower margins. It has been found that consumers pay significantly more for products they can view in person and for the ‘experience’ within a retail store.
Postage and shipping costs can be expensive
There is no passing foot traffic
There is less impulse buying
There is a dependency on hardware
There is less trust of the brand or product.

The solution? To have both of course.

 What you will need:

An  online payment system such as Paypal for example.
You will need to pay for web hosting and technical support
You will pay for shipping and accepting online payments.
You will pay for your desired domain name and for someone to develop your website and e-commerce platform.
You will need to handle fulfillment and shipping
You will need to maintain it.

Building a customer base is one of the most-essential components of starting a successful retail business, online or offline. With a retail store, the potential customer base is limited to the surrounding area. Online, the customer base is limitless.

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