The increasing availability and affordability of internet access to users worldwide have led to the number of emails being sent and received globally steadily increasing since 2017.

According to Statista, “roughly 306.4 billion emails were estimated to have been sent and received each day in 2020”.

This figure is expected to increase to 347 billion daily emails by 2022 and 376.4 billion daily mails by 2025, Statista predicts.

If you run a newsroom, you would be wise to pay attention to the rapid rise of email marketing, or what most people know as newsletters.

At the recent Jamfest Africa 2021, during the newsletter best practices session, we explored why newsletters are one of the higher return-on-investment earning digital channels.

Newsletter editor of the Daily Vox, Fatima Moosa said their weekly wrap newsletter Top of the Vox, had seen its audience increase over 150% since it relaunched in early 2020. Subscriptions had grown from 2,000 to 8,000 subscribers and reader engagement improved.

She shared some key tips to take note of:

  • What do you want to achieve before starting a newsletter? Do your research, does your audience want a newsletter? What type of newsletter? Readers are potential subscribers, find out what they value. For example, content marketing, aggregated content, transactional, informative, promotional.
  • Find a voice: what are you promoting that is different from others? Look to others for inspiration but don’t copy.
  • Make small changes such as adding a subject line and making the newsletter more personal.
  • Readers need to understand there’s a person behind the newsletter, not a robot. Address it to the recipient, but get people’s consent first in line with the Protection of Personal Information Act.
  • Add a pop-up form every time you log onto the website encouraging visitors to sign up for the newsletter.
  • Visuals are important. Text alone is boring. Add images.
  • Re-engage or remove non-openers of your newsletter. It’s important to have engaged rather than a big list. Re-engagement is important too because perhaps someone forgot.
  • Find your niche: what keeps people subscribed. Are you giving people information that they want? Cater to their preferences.
  • Pay attention to metrics: engagement is important.
  • Segmentation is key. Cut the existing list into different lists.
  • Build a preference centre where people tell you what their preference is and then send them specified and targeted content.
  • Check your analytics regularly!
  • Explore various email marketing platforms before committing.

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Similarly, Desmond Brown, international head of business development at TouchBasePro, said it was imperative to define your email marketing goals, define the types of email you’re going to be sending, define what email metrics make sense for you, and decide on the features that are important to scaling your email efforts.

He gave a number of useful pointers from a business development perspective.

  • Make sure emails can be viewed across devices: 60% of people in SA are reading emails on mobiles. Does your email look good on the device your audience is using?
  • Mobile responsiveness: your emails must work across devices that your audience uses to consume those emails. Or else you’re missing out on conversions and revenue.
  • What is your email strategy? If done effectively, email is more effective than Facebook and Twitter in attaining new customers.
  • Look for an average delivery rate of 90% or higher.
  • How easily across digital channels can your email be shared?
  • Pay attention to your bounce rate, it indicates the deliverability of your email. Is your email hitting the inbox or going to spam?
  • Automation of emails: are you sending the right emails to the right people at the right time? Does your email service provider (ESP) allow you to produce and schedule automated emails? “It’s a vital component of the email marketing mix,” said Brown.
  • Can your ESP provide you with client engagement metrics and the ability to track your database’s growth and decline? Database growth is important because you want to put your content in front of the right eyes.
  • Does your ESP meet your budget and have you set a specific budget for email/newsletters?
  • Free email marketing tools don’t offer the customer service of paid-for tools.
  • Free emails marketing options aren’t necessarily the best. They have a bad reputation because you’re sharing the same email sending server as bad senders such as phishing sites. Try to avoid them, they don’t attract good sending profiles.

How to choose your email service provider (ESP)

An ESP is a company that houses your inbox, sent emails, and draft emails. If you want to communicate with most businesses and people in 2021, you will need an ESP.

“Choosing the right email service provider is similar to dating, so you’ll kind of get lucky and find your partner for life early on. Or you’ll try a ton of providers and experience great moments and disappointments until you find one that just clicks now”, said Brown. He said: “Unfortunately, no one size fits all in the email world, so considering a partner for email that can match your business needs will be critical in email comms success”.

“The purpose of email marketing is to build relationships and grow your business,” said Brown. He gave practical tips on email marketing and how to choose the right ESP for your organisation:

  • Consider strategy
    • What is your email strategy? It is important to understand how email marketing fits into your strategy, each email needs to have a specific intention or goal. “Make sure the provider you are choosing has the ability to scale with you,” said Brown.
  • Define features
    • What tools do you need to have in your arsenal to choose the right ESP? The features you need should be easy to understand:
    • Flexible templates – people buy with their eyes
    • Mobile responsiveness – emails must work across various devices
    • Email automation – sending relevant messages to the right people at the right time
    • Performance tracking – looking at bounce rates and open rates
  • Set a budget
    • Be aware that free email service providers aren’t necessarily the best option
  • Delivery rates
    • Check the deliverability of the ESP you will be using
  • Customer supports
    • Getting the right support and guidance is key


  • Growing an engaged email database takes time and effort
  • Add sign-up forms to your website
  • Don’t purchase email databases, you end up with a bad rep
  • Change button on your Facebook to link to the website sign-up form
  • Ask people to sign up on your content posts on social media
  • LinkedIn is great for getting sign-ups. Use snippets of exclusive content
  • Add sign-up links to Instagram and Twitter bios
  • Send targeted emails to segmented groups of your database
Watch the full session here.



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