Guidelines for effective email campaigns

Email was first introduced in the 70’s and by the 90’s it revolutionized the way we communicated with one another, it opened doors that postal mail could never have accomplished in reaching the masses instantly.  Then the SMS appeared, this enabled us to send shorter messages to each other via mobile phones, this made email seem a bit archaic coupled with the explosion of social media to our everyday life.   Approximately 40 odd years later, however, email has been given new life and has prevailed as the best way to communicate effectively with intended recipients.

Email’s resurgence continues to revolutionize the way we communicate with each other in a smarter and more effective ways; it is mobile friendly (stats show that around 65% of all mails are first opened on a mobile device), it delivers rich content with the likes of graphics, icons, buttons and very importantly it can track the engagement of readers tell us how many people have received, opened and clicked on the emails and even what they have clicked within the emails. All of these factors combined is why in 2016 email is noted as the most effective marketing tool available.

Have you adapted?

Now, considering that email is a far cry from what it used to be it begs the question, have you adapted to capitalise on the new way of managing email campaigns or are you still emailing in the same way as you have always done?

Here are some pointers to take into account when sending out emails to your clients:

1.      Create mobile friendly emails (responsive)

Before you start ensure that your emails are built using a mobile friendly platform. The majority of readers are now reading email on their mobile phones and therefore your emails need to be easy to read on a phone. Responsive emails simply means that the size of the email will automatically be altered to the device the email is being viewed on – small and readable if opened on a mobile device, normal size if opened on a computer, also. Creating one big image as your mailer with all the text within the image is a bad idea as you will have to zoom in and scroll around the page to view the entire message. The more “html” the better.

2.      Have a very clear purpose

Establishing the purpose and objectives of the email campaign you are about to embark on will keep you focussed on what is important as you create content for your mailer and sure that it flows logically in a top down manner.

As part of this process try and stick to just one clear message per email campaign. Just because you now have a very powerful way to share content with your readers doesn’t mean you should do it all in one email. In this process think about what you want to say to your clients and what you want them to do in response. This way of working also makes it easier to measure the success of your campaign.

3.     Use catchy subject lines

Your subject line will determine whether or not the reader continues reading.  It must be catchy yet also have great integrity, ie if the reader does open the email then the content of the email must directly relate to the subject line (it must deliver on its promise). This will further re-enforce the message you are trying to get across as well as increase the chances of the reader opening emails from you in the future.

For catchy subject lines try using the headline approach as our Newspapers and Magazines have taught us (relevant, short & catchy), it’s been capturing readers since the beginning of time – so make it short and catchy – “Summer is Here – Time for a Change”.
Or, try using a question – as recent studies show that subject lines phrased as a question perform better than using statements in the subject line – “Need a Beauty Boost?”
Or, if your email campaign is targeting by a specific location – incorporating the location reference into the subject line could also add a touch of relevance – “Special Offers at our Sandton Spa.”

4.     Keep your message as concise as possible

Stats also show that readers generally only spend 15 seconds scanning an email – therefore we have to catch their attention from the get go.  Capturing our audience will determine the success rate of the campaign. A good combination for this is a good image that tells your story, then a brief write up that further elaborates on the image – all of which must be consistent with your subject line. The less you can say to get your message across the better.

Put the most important information first as people have stopped reading longwinded text therefore let the content expand or flow from the subject line.  Also note that you can add more value by providing access to exclusive content. Remember that email marketing success is to get credibility from the first email so readers look forward to the next email campaign, rather than delete upon receipt because we didn’t get it right the first time.

If you do have a lot to say on a particular matter then add this to the blog page on your website and put a link for the reader to “read more” on your web site. This allows the reader to easily scan your mail for topics that interest them and then focus in on that particular part of the email. It also helps drive traffic through to your website, which gives you further opportunities to engage with them.

5.      Include a clear call to action

A call to action is an instruction to the reader to provoke an immediate response by clicking a button and engaging in whatever the required action is.  Preferably only use one call to action per email and make it easy to see.  Examples of Call to Action buttons are – Book Now; Contact Us; Find Out More; Click here to Enter.

Provide incentives for readers to respond to the call to action.  Readers love getting offers, discounts etc.  Competitions is another sure way to entice the reader to participate using the call to action button and thereby assist in increasing your email open rate.

6.      Identify yourself clearly

This may seem very obvious, however, it is surprising how overlooked this very simple requirement is.  This is a simple matter of making sure the from address and reply address are correct as well as your business name being used. This will help the reader to trust the mail before they open it. Ensure that you have your own domain name rather than using free email accounts like Google for your business. The domain name is what you get when you set up your web site address, ie You will then be able to use “yourdomain” for your emails.

7.      Segment your recipient list

When sending emails you want to try and reach the people who are most likely to open the mails as well as respond to your call to action. Sending emails to your entire database is not always the best way to do that. In many instances it is better to target segments of your database based on things like gender, purchase history, loyalty status etc. This will also help connect the content to the reader more effectively and be more meaningful for them.

8.      Analyse reader engagement

Not only is Email Campaign the No.1 digital marketing channel, it is also the top source of data for analytics as the data generated from the tracking stats enables us to get results quickly to determine the success rate of our campaign as well as the relevant stats to assist us in other marketing outlets.

Data from stats include – how many of your mails are opened on a mobile device, total number of emails sent, total number of emails delivered, the breakdown on opened mail on Mobile, Desktop & Web, what the click rate from and more.

Its not enough to just have the stats though. Each time you do an email campaign you should be smarter than the last time. In order to do so you actually need to learn from the analytics and change your behaviour accordingly.


Email has changed and so must you if you wish to remain competitive. Therefore create mobile friendly emails, have a clear objective for each campaign, create subject lines that grab the reader’s attention, have clear concise messages consistent with your subject line and objective, store bulky content on your website with links to read more, segment your database in order to target specific recipients and finally have a clear call to action. Most importantly be ready to respond. It would be a shame to run a successful email campaign only to drop the ball when readers respond.


Email Vs SMS 

Email Vs SMS

What a co-incidence – I’m sitting at my coffee shop of choice just about to start writing this article on the difference between SMS and Email and I receive an SMS notifying me that ABSA Insurance phone lines are down due to the storm in Gauteng yesterday. Read more

Paul Waldeck on Spa Benchmarking at Les Nouvelles 2014


Paul Waldeck will be delivering a talk on Spa Benchmarking at this years Les Nouvelle spa conference.

Spa consultant and Business Intelligence analyst  Paul has helped a multitude of companies in the wellness industry achieve greater turnover growth and profit, by analysing their systems data and benchmark trends and translating it onto useable information and strategies.

Paul has applied his skills in the wellness industry for over 3 years, with a corporate background in management and marketing (Bcom, MScIB).

To find out more about ESP Business Intelligence please contact ESP at or Paul at

Applying the Spa Benchmark Report

In my previous article I looked at the idea of benchmarking and how you can benchmark against yourself (previous performances), your competitors (those that are near you) and the industry as a whole.

All of this is in context of the South African Spa Benchmark report and how it can be put to practical use for you as an owner of either one or many spas.

The benefit of benchmarking against yourself is fairly evident, ie when you compare your current performance is it better or worse than previous performances.

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Spa Benchmarking

Wouldn’t you like to know?


Salon and Spa owners have often joked with me over the years about me giving them their competitor’s data. This is usually said with a big smile and a laugh afterwards, but I often wonder what they would do if I said, okay, I’ll get it for you… I think that they would actually take it!

On the other hand I have had many owners threaten about the consequences of their data being shared with anyone else as if it contained secrets that if revealed could lead to the end of the world as we know it.

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Computerisation Question and Answer

1.      Should I use Generic Retail, Accounting or Salon/Spa Specific Software?

When talking to owners who are researching software for their spas or salons we are often quite surprised to find that they will be also be considering software that is not specific to their industry, ie accounting software, general retail software and even software designed for hospitality like restaurants. In my experience there is almost a 100% failure rate of these types of systems to satisfy the needs of salon and spa owners and they end up writing off the money initially spent on these systems and purchasing a system that is designed for them.

When it comes to the wellness industry which includes beauty salons, nail salons, day spas, hotel spas (amongst other types of spas) and even will cross over in to the hair industry and medical aesthetics there are core businesses requirements and processes that are common to all. These include things like detailed Client Record keeping, Appointment Scheduling, the Sale of Retail and Services, Gift Vouchers, Loyalty Schemes, Commission Calculations, Stock Control for both Retail and Professional Stock and Communication with clients via Email and SMS (amongst other things).

If you take the flow of information in a salon or spa environment it will go something like this. A client calls in to make an appointment. If not already on the system a new client record will be created. Thereafter the appointment will be created for the relevant service and staff member. Once the client comes in and has completed their service they will proceed to “checkout” and possibly add a Retail item to the sale. Once the sale is completed the information will appear on a day-end cash up so that you can account for all transactions that took place and ensure that all corresponding money is in the til. Stock levels will have been adjusted throughout the day as stock was sold. At the end of the period you will use all of the daily transactions to calculate staff service and retail commission as well as generate reports to see how well you have performed. You will also send out communication to your clients to remind them of appointments, inform them of news as well as promotions.

When the client returns for their next visit the cycle begins all over again but now you have a history of the client and are able to provide them with a more personalised level of service as a result of tracking all their previous visit’s information.

There are many other processes that could be mentioned but this process makes up the core of what is common amongst salons and spa’s. With all of this in mind it is very obvious why accounting systems, retail systems and restaurant systems are not applicable when running a salon or spa.

Apart from the different types of salons and spas already mentioned it’s also worth highlighting that a beauty salon could be run from home salon or an exclusive shopping centre. It could even be on a ship, in an airport or be mobile. It could be a standalone branch or belong to a group (or franchise).  The common elements amongst all of these include the fact that there are still clients booking treatments with therapists as well as purchasing retail items and gift vouchers.

2.      Should I use Desktop or Cloud Computing?

The question of whether to use Desktop Software (ie software that is installed on your computer and does not need an internet connection) versus Cloud Computing (ie software than is accessed via the internet running on someone else’s server and infrastructure, ie the software is not installed on your own computer) is one that is being asked more and more and is demanding more attention than ever.

Cloud computing is something that we are all making use of more and more on a daily basis and is starting to become more and more of the standard way of working.

Examples of cloud computing that we use every day will be things like online airline bookings or online movie bookings.

To put it another way DSTV offers the movies on demand option whereby you can pay for and view a new release movie (as long as you subscribe to their service) – this is similar to Cloud Computing. On the other hand if you have a DVD player you can purchase your own movie and watch it over and over for as long as you want. The down side is that your upfront purchase will most likely be higher but you will have unlimited access to the movie. To enjoy the movie that you have bought you will need to take the DVD with you and also have your own DVD player, whereas with the DSTV you can just take your smart card and use this as your “log in” to the DSTV infrastructure that will play the movie for you. One thing, from an infrastructure point of view, that Cloud Computing does require is an internet connection, which will give you access to your providers infrastructure. In much the same way as DSTV requires you to have a decoder that allows you to access its infrastructure.

In first world countries cloud computing is fast becoming the first choice for business software in many environments but in places where internet connectivity is volatile cloud computing has its drawbacks.

The nature of your business will determine the feasibility of your use of cloud computing. The main benefit of cloud computing is the fact that you can access your data from anywhere. Not only you but your clients and your staff. This means that a new world of opportunity is opened up that allows you to capitalize on things like online bookings and the like. Other benefits include low maintenance and downtime as only the server ever needs to be upgraded rather than every computer in your business and home. Also data backups are now (hopefully) managed by the company hosting your data and thus you don’t necessarily need to do your own back-ups, although this has other drawbacks like losing access to your data if you don’t pay your fees.

The first downside of cloud computing I want to mention is speed as this is dependent on your internet connection. So, if you are on a very slow internet connection then you may find yourself taking a lot longer to basic functions like sales and bookings.

The second is downtime. Usually the company that hosts your system will be online 99%+ of the time but your business is not and whenever your internet goes off then you will go offline and not be able to view bookings, enter sales or do other functions. In an office environment this can be managed as you can simply return to a task later when your internet is back on, but for a point of sale environment your clients will not be as accommodating if you are not able to assist them there and then.

The third point is functionality. This may be surprising but compared to desktop software cloud computing as we know and experience it on a daily basis is fairly new and systems functionality is having to be built from scratch. When compared with desktop software that has many years worth of programming the cloud computing versions often lack the array of features that the desktop versions offer. We just tend to be so focused on the fact that we can access our data from anywhere and the other benefits of cloud computing that we tend not to think about this point. However, cloud computing will catch up in time and surpass what desktop software can do because everyone’s energy is going into making this happen.

3.      Should I Rent or purchase upfront?

Generally speaking there are two ballparks that software pricing structures fall into, namely Upfront Purchases or Rentals. Upfront purchases then may or may not charge for support fees or license fees on a monthly or annual basis. Rental fees just go on indefinitely. In my opinion business software should be accompanied by a support & upgrades structure because the nature of business software is that it is a system (multiple elements and components that combine for a purpose) and implementing software is a process that takes time. This coupled with the fact that business needs change over time means that what you want/need today may be completely different in 6, 12 or 18 months. Therefore treating your software provider as part of your team rather than an outside supplier is a far healthier scenario. Whether this is provided as part of the rental or part of an additional fee the service should be considered important and therefore made use of.

When worked out over time you determine if you are spending the same amount of money and what you will be left with if you stop spending money. For example, at what point does your spend on your rental equal the amount you spend on your upfront purchase? Also, if you stop paying your rental do you get locked out of your data or can you still use your software but just not get any support? Personally I don’t like the model of compulsory annual license fees as these say that you have to buy your software and then pay for it again each year. I think that support services should be optional and if not subscribed to the user should still have access to their system.

Note that Cloud Computing generally is sold as a monthly service and is also known as Software As A Service (SAAS). The reason being is that by definition you are not supplied with a piece of software that you can install and use on your own without “subscribing” to the service on a monthly or annual basis. You may have started to notice that many software providers that provided installed desktop software using an upfront purchase option have also started to move towards the pricing model of monthly rental type payments. This means that the software is immediately accessible but over a long period of time you will most likely end up spending more.

4.      Should I download free software?

With the availability of just about anything on the internet the temptation to simply download a “free” piece of software is high. However, there is a cost involved. The cost Im referring to is the cost of the time that you will most likely waste in half-heartedly implementing the free software before throwing in the towel and investing in a system that will actually bring value to you.

Keep in mind that the implementation of management software is a process and takes time. It is not a TV that you turn on and off at your leisure. Rather it is something that you can influence based on what you put into it and this does take work. Therefore, apart from other benefits (like a quality product and good back up service) paying for your software motivates you to invest the time and energy required in order to implement your software because your money will be wasted otherwise. With free software, however, if you download it and fail to implement it then you have not lost any upfront money and so the motivation to “make it work for you” is low.

5.      Should I get my own software custom developed?

On many occasions over the years I have heard owners tell me that they had a friend or a relative custom build them a piece of software for their business only to find after 6 months, a year, 5 years that the programmer has either left the country, become too busy to carry on the project or has simply lost interest because the returns for them are not worth it to maintain on an ongoing basis.

Therefore there is a place for custom development but it should be on top of an existing system that is tried and tested in the market place and the custom development is more tweaking the system according to your needs rather than building it for you from scratch.

6.      Should I use an international or local system?

I remember a particular spa group about 11 years ago hiring an I.T consultant to help them choose a system. This particular consultant was concerned about choosing our company because we were a South African company rather than a U.S or UK or some other “international” company. The irony of it is that the “international” company that we were competing against for the business is no more and we actually picked up many of their clients over time.

When deciding on a software management system you need to look at the product and the company that is backing the product. What you will find is that the product is only as good as its local representation in an area. You can therefore have a situation whereby a company that on paper may appear to have an inferior product to another company may actually outperform its counterpart because their service in the local market place is better. It becomes a matter of successfully implementing 80%-100% of an inferior product verses 10%-20% of a superior product.

Other factors to look into apart from what the product and company can offer you today is what they can offer you in 6,12 or 24 months. You should therefore find out about the vision for the company as technology is changing the playing field almost daily now and things are shifting very quickly.

In South Africa I have seen many “international” systems come and go without making meaningful inroads into our market and instead seeing local system develop and flourish.

Part of the reason is that a local company will be more passionate about its own product than someone who is simply an agent for another company. Therefore the service at all levels will usually be better.

My final point on this section is that software support is key. You need instant access to a help desk at any time because your business cannot wait 2-3 days for a simple query to be answered, you also cant call at 4am or some other ridiculous hour because of time zone differences.

7.      How can I access my data from home?

We often get asked by owners how they can work from home. The most ideal scenario for this is cloud computing because this means that you can work anywhere, anytime without interrupting users at the salon. Using your web browser means that you can work on a Mac or Windows and even on a tablet or smartphone.

There are alternatives that are less desirable but still functional, like using remote desktop or an alternative third party remote access tool. The problem is that if you only have one computer at the salon then you will take control of that machine and prevent salon staff from working.

8.      Can I run my business from an Tablet?

With the advent of cloud computing and mobile / tablet accessibility the question is coming up more and more often as to whether you can use a tablet to actually run your entire business. My answer to this is more No than Yes. Even if you have a full cloud computing solution the point of sale / reception environment requires robust hardware that integrates with peripherals like cash drawers, printers, barcode scanners, fingerprint readers and magnetic card readers. I have no doubt that in time the mobile devices will start connecting more and more to these peripheral devices, but then the purpose of the tablet’s mobility is defeated as it would need to be “docked” in the reception area to work properly.

A tablet should rather be used to supplement your existing system, ie for clients to update their personal and medical information or for staff in the salon / spa to look up client and booking info from a tablet in their treatment room or in the staff room.

Communication is a two way street

I’m sitting at a restaurant in the new Cape Quarter, where I usually go to write my articles. While I am there my attention is grabbed by a customer who is visibly upset with the service that he has received and he is waving his hands around and raising his voice to a lady who informs him that she is the owner of the restaurant.

He is trying to communicate to her how unhappy he is and why he is so unhappy and she is trying to communicate to him the care she takes to train her staff to do their jobs properly. This situation was obviously not a great situation for the owner because there is an unhappy customer who is making a bit of a scene in front of other patrons. On the other hand at least she is presented with an opportunity to remedy the situation.

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Disaster Recovery

We have all experienced the feeling of annoyance after typing a long SMS or Email and just before sending you inadvertently push a wrong button only to find that your entire message is lost forever and you have to start all over again. If you have ever had a cell phone stolen then you will be familiar with the exercise whenever you receive an SMS of kindly notifying the sender that your cell phone was stolen and all your contacts lost and can they please identify themselves so that you can add them back to your contact list.

Most of us will also have experienced the cold sweat induced upon learning that your computer has crashed and no data could be recovered or that it has been stolen and there were no backups. If it was your personal computer then the extent of your loss will include things like important documents, emails and your beloved photographs. If it was your business computer then you may have been reduced to tears upon learning that your sales, clients, bookings and other important data have been lost.

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Strategic Planning

The following dialogue is taken from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland between Alice and the Chesire Cat when Alice asks the cat:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

To some all of this up: “If you don’t know where you are going it doesn’t matter how you get there”.

I thought it would be a good idea to ask the questions “Why are you doing what you do, where is your business going and what are you doing to get it there?”

The process of doing this is known as Strategic Planning, which takes a look at your Vision, Mission, Strategy and Structure.

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Tax Annualisation

Hopefully you are reading this article before 28 February 2013. If not then at least you will be prepared for 2014, because I wanted to discuss a few points regarding tax that may be applicable to you and your staff members.

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