The best email marketing solution for businesses in South Africa?

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Considering that more than 3.9 billion people use email worldwide, it’s safe to say that email isn’t going anywhere. And with that, email marketing continues to rise in effectiveness and popularity, with 78% of marketers seeing an overall increase in engagement over the last twelve months. This means that email marketing will continue to remain relevant for your business for the foreseeable future. While some emails are destined for the trash without so much as a glance, well-crafted emails are a fantastic way to connect with potential and existing customers. With the sheer number of emails that people receive daily, personalisation is a great way of creating engaging emails that stand out and speak to the consumer’s wants and interests.

A number of email marketing providers have sprung up over the years to fill this gap, with feature sets growing along with the industry. This has led to a variety of packages and offerings, making it tough for a small business or entrepreneur to decide which email marketing provider is best for their needs. Here we look at which features are important for entrepreneurs, to ultimately help you decide what the best email marketing provider for your business so you can connect with your customer’s via their inbox.

Which features should I look out for?

Costs and contacts: As your business grows, so will your amount of email contacts so it’s important to get an idea of the costs you can expect once you’ve surpassed the free tier that some providers offer. Generally speaking, there are two costs you’ll need to consider, as well as how many contacts you get:

1) Setup Cost – how much opening an account will set you back.

2) Ongoing Cost – your monthly subscription fee if you do not exceed the number of contacts.

3) Contacts – this is the number of addresses/subscribers you can send your email campaigns to before having to move to a higher package at a greater cost.

Ease of use: Here you should consider how simple the platform’s signup process is, how simple the user interface makes customising emails or accessing reports and analytics, as well as whether it offers templates. This should be a painless process that lets you focus on getting great campaigns sent out.

Features: While some providers may offer a lot of extra features that others do not, it is important to consider the extra costs that they may incur and if the features are needed. There are three broad areas of feature sets that email marketing providers offer:

1) Integrations – can you connect your website, blog or online shop to your email marketing provider for additional features such as tracking or order follow-ups?

2) General Features – there are a number of features that are designed assist your email marketing campaigns, making them simpler to create with drag-and-drop campaign building and templates or more effective with A/B testing and product recommendations. While some providers offer all features regardless of the package, this is reflected in the price, meaning you can end up paying for features you don’t need.

3) Automations – as the name suggests, automations are actions that happen automatically when a certain trigger, such as a specific date or time, happens. While not necessary, automations make it simple to add another personal touch to marketing emails and connect with consumers or follow-up on interactions. As they are not essential, you should consider if your business needs automations at this stage before choosing a package or provider that offers them.

Support & reviews: Considering these providers are responsible for sending out your email campaigns to your businesses’ contacts, should anything go wrong, you want to know that there is a good support system that gives you the assistance you need when you need it. It’s important to know what kind of support is offered and during which hours. Online reviews are often a good indication of what kind of experiences real-world users have had.

Image Source: Betterteam

The best entry-level business bank accounts in SA:

Provider MailChimp Essentials Klaviyo Mail Blaze Ember
Year Launched

2001

2012

2006

Setup Cost

Free

Free

Free

Ongoing Cost

R550

$60 (approx R900)*

R324

Easy of use

5/5

"This is probably the easiest mailing list platform out there. It takes minutes to set up your account and get started sending emails to a list."

"Perfect for beginners and awesome support."

4/5

"Interface is well laid out and easy to navigate. There are tons of options to dig into when setting up flows/campaigns."

"It is very intuitive and it's very easy to customize emails.

They have a lot of great templates that you can use to make great emails very fast."

5/5

"Very easy to use. There is always a team available when help is needed."

"Switching to Mail Blaze has been a seamless and stress-free process for our company."

Number of Contacts

2500

2500

2001 - 2500

Website integration

Yes

Yes (One-click integrations)

Yes (with API)

Features

Creative Assistant

Email Templates

Custom Branding

A/B Testing

Marketing CRM

Website Builder

Mailchimp Domain

Forms & Landing Pages

Multi-Step Journeys

Drag-and-drop email design

Responsive email templates

Email personalisation

Powerful segmentation

A/B testing

Facebook advertising

Dynamic data blocks

Product recommendations

Custom activity fields

Email newsletters

Signup forms and popups

Customer profiles

Real-time tracking

Powerful drag-and-drop campaign builder

Comprehensive Template Library

Personalisation

Reporting/Analytics

Yes (Email, landing page, Ads & Automation)

Google Analytics Integration

ROI-based reporting

Analytics Dashboard

Full reporting

Google Analytics Integration

Support

24/7 Email & Chat support

Klaviyo Help Center

Email support

Live chat

Access to 24/7 support (incl. phone)

Customer Rating

2.5 (Hello Peter)

4.5 (Capterra)

4.7 (Capterra)

4.9 (Hello Peter)

Automations

Customer Journeys

Behaviour-based Automations

Transactional Emails (Standard & up)

Postcards

Date-based Automations

RSS-to-email

Customer Journeys

Pre-built autoresponders

Triggered emails

Abandoned cart series

Order follow-ups

Welcome email series

Smart sending

Automated list imports

Welcome email

Transactional Emails (Flame & up)

All above data sourced February 2021.

* Estimate calculated at an exchange rate of R15 to $1

And our winner is…

MailChimp is the dominant player in the email marketing space, and for good reason. If you’re looking for a full-scale marketing platform to manage multiple channels in an automated fashion, then MailChimp is worth serious consideration. However, we’re of the opinion that as a new businesses, you are unlikely to make use of the full feature set (which also comes with a higher learning curve and price).

Let’s face it, as an entrepreneur you’re already responsible for so many functions in the business, so first priority should be simplifying the way you do things. Rather than mastering every function out there (like becoming an email marketing aficionado), you should look to bring skilled people alongside your business as it grows.

So, if you’re exclusively looking for an email marketing solution, or you already rely on other great applications to meet your broader marketing needs (like CRM or website builder) – then Mail Blaze’s excellently priced, easy-to-use and locally developed platform is our choice for best email marketing provider for South African businesses. While it lacks the automations that both MailChimp and Klaviyo offer (apparently these are in development), the savings are considerable. Mail Blaze’s plans equate up to 50% cheaper than MailChimp’s as your contact list grows in size (5000<). And with local telephonic support, great templates and a simple, but powerful drag-and-drop campaign builder, it’s feature set is perfect for entrepreneurs or small businesses.

About getlion

At getlion, it’s our mission to see entrepreneurs succeed. We start by helping them make the best decisions for their business, and sort through the clutter of offerings out there! Beyond that, we’ve set out to build South Africa’s leading one-stop mobile app for entrepreneurs, boasting education, rewards, funding, an online B2B marketplace and more. We’ve also partnered with the country’s leading companies to ensure that our users have access to the best (and often discounted) solutions. Visit getlion.co.za and download the getlion mobile app to enjoy offers from leading partners like Mail Blaze and others.

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