Madex 2019 takes place on June 5 and 5 at the Sandton Convention Centre. Picture: SUPPLIED/SPECIALISED EXHIBITIONS
Madex 2019 takes place on June 5 and 5 at the Sandton Convention Centre. Picture: SUPPLIED/SPECIALISED EXHIBITIONS

While email might be the platform with the most effective statistics in terms of recipient engagement, it is critical for marketers to understand that an integrated, multi-platform approach is key for consistent, effective communication today.

Katherine Marriott, sales manager at digital communications platform Everlytic, says as trustworthy as email is, it is also valuable to consider combining it with different forms of communication, such as SMSs at different stages of the customer lifecycle.

“The integration of different channels will be key for the future of meaningful communication, providing a 360° view of the customer and their preferred choice of engagement.”

The compelling case for email

Everlytic marketing manager Karyn Strybos says that although email is often considered a more traditional form of communication, it remains a powerful business tool. “It has been said that email is a dying form of communication, but the opposite is true. In excess of 281bn emails were distributed over 2018, according to Statista, with more than 347bn estimated by 2023. There are 30m internet users in SA and most of them have an email address; this is a massive opportunity to capture your audience.”

Research conducted by Everlytic found that 86% of the 2,000 people (of varying ages and demographics) surveyed preferred to receive promotions via email. In addition, 84% of respondents said they trusted email as a platform to receive invoices, statements and other sensitive information.

“Everlytic sent 4bn emails from our servers in 2018 – a number that has already been surpassed just short of halfway through 2019. And although brands have been sending more emails, the engagement rates are still high. This shows subscribers are finding the content relevant to them.”

According to Strybos, Everlytic’s recent consumer research showed that email also prevailed across age groups, including younger people. The general trend is that subscribers prefer to receive short emails with links to more info if they want to read more. Interestingly, though, the youth are more likely than older generations to prefer longer-format email content. “This could be because today’s youth tend to use their mobile phones for everything, including reading emails, and longer content in one palatable chunk helps save on data usage.”

Email and SMS: a winning combination

A strong influencing factor in combining the use of email communication with an SMS campaign is the fact that a text message can be effective in driving people to read their emails, Marriott says.

“We’ve seen that SMSs improve email open rates. For instance, text messages can entice people to open and read emails on their phones first and responding to and actioning them on their computers later,” she says. “To put things in perspective, of the 38m mobile users in SA, 51% actively use SMS.

“SMS is also one of the most cost-effective communication tools. We have customers who are paying a maximum cost of about 22c per message.”

Marriott adds that despite growing popularity, the cost for brands to send a WhatsApp message is 60c per message, and there are still the data charges to consider. “Furthermore, WhatsApp cannot be used for bulk messaging, which takes it out of the equation for mass marketing.”

Save time: use automation for strategic communication

By automating your messaging, Marriott says businesses are able to save time on communicating while ensuring that information is personalised.

“Through automation, it is possible to create and automatically deliver a series of predetermined emails and SMSs that are aligned to the customer journey. This means companies that understand their target markets are able to build audience personas and create content based on their specific pain points.

"And you don’t have to create different emails or SMSs for each persona either; it’s far easier to use dynamic content, which can pull the relevant information into individual emails depending on which persona the reader is categorised as.”

Personalisation: bulk messaging with a personal touch

“This ties into another growing trend: hyper-personalisation. For example, it’s no longer enough to use an individual’s account number to customise communications. People want content that is more relevant to them as an individual,” says Marriott.

“We’re already seeing success in this space from local retailers, financial services organisations, and hospitality groups who are targeting customers according to products purchased or used and loyalty status levels.”

Marriott and Strybos are included among the 50-plus thought leaders set to share their insights into the world of marketing at the upcoming Madex 2019 event.

Madex (#TheOGMarketingExpo) takes place on June 5 and 6 2019 at the Sandton Convention Centre. Strybos will also be available for a more in-depth discussion in the new Madex deep-dive sessions.

Visit www.madex.co.za to secure your ticket. Pay R50 online or R100 per ticket at the door. Group bookings for the event are also available.

This article was paid for by Specialised Exhibitions.