Tag: e-mail

By Kevin Lancaster for MyBroadband

Discovery Bank, Bank Zero, and TymeBank – South Africa’s newest banks – are set to “disrupt” the local banking scene in 2019.

Disrupt – an almost meaningless word which is akin to “millennial” in terms of its flagrant use by anyone who wants to show they understand trends and marketing – is not enough, however.

The new banks must destroy everything in their path, particularly the banking fees South Africans pay today.

We recently showed that compared to Bitcoin and Ethereum, and their respective blockchains, local banks are slow and cumbersome.

Where it took Bitcoin and Ethereum under 10 minutes to send tokens from one account to another, a local bank transfer from Standard Bank to Absa took almost 12 hours.

The cryptocurrency transfers did accrue a small transfer fee while the bank-to-bank transaction was free, but there are no monthly fees for most cryptocurrency wallets – unlike a bank account.

The potential of cryptocurrency transactions is not truly realised with local payments, however, and where they truly shine is in international payments.

While maintaining fast transfer times regardless of where in the world you send tokens, the fees you pay do not change. If you send Ethereum to Durban or Dubai, it will take the same amount of time and you will be charged the same fee.

The same cannot be said for bank transactions. “International fees” are charged when you make a payment across a border.

A practical example of this is when you pay your Netflix subscription fee, you pay extra – as the money goes to the company’s operation in Amsterdam.

A Netflix Premium subscription costs R169, with a transfer fee of R4.65 added on top of this.

International fees
These bank fees extend to “currency conversion” charges, too, which means that if you make a payment in an international currency with your card, you will have to pay for the pleasure.

Nedbank, Absa, FNB, and Standard Bank all charge this fee, which ranges from 2% to 2.75% – depending on which bank you are with. Capitec told MyBroadband that it does not charge a currency conversion fee.

While 2% does not sound like much, this accumulates rather quickly when making multiple transactions.

I discovered this on a recent work trip to the US, where I used my South African credit card to pay for items in US dollars.

After checking my online banking a couple days into my trip, I immediately switched to drawing cash for the day and sucking up the once-off withdrawal fee as opposed to making all payments with my card.

And yes, there is an “international fee” when withdrawing cash from an ATM in a foreign country.

Before switching to cash, these are the international fees which I accrued on my card:


The total: R378.02.

Whether these fees are implemented by the local bank, international banks, or a combination of the two is irrelevant – as the consumer this is what you pay.

Admittedly, the example of international transactions is an extreme one but it nonetheless serves as a reminder of the culture of fees worshipped by local banks.

These fees extend far beyond international payments and see users being charged to send an email payment confirmation to a recipient.

Before you fill in the text box at the bottom of your online payment confirmation window, entering the beneficiary’s email address so the bank will send them a mail confirming your payment was made, first check how much it will cost.

For me it was R1.10. My bank charged me R1.10 to send an automated email confirming a payment – another discovery made during the fee investigation.

Discovery Bank, Bank Zero, and TymeBank have all talked a big game about disrupting the local banking scene when they launch.

Let us hope they can deliver on their promises and that they will do more than merely disrupt – they must destroy and replace.

The end of the age of e-mail

E-mail and I were born at roughly the same time, and like me, it’s beginning to show its age.

ARPANET contractor Ray Tomlinson is credited with sending the first mail – to himself – around 1971. He can’t even remember what it said. “Most likely the first message was QWERTYIOP or something similar,” he’s been quoted as saying.

Tomlinson’s innovation was to allow mail to be sent to users of computers on the ARPANET; he also chose the ‘@’ sign. Forty-six years later, we’re still @ it, but some bad habits, especially in organisations, seem to have crept in along the way.

Such as checking your mail. Too often.

Or using your inbox as a planning tool.

Or using e-mail as a substitute for the telephone.

And don’t even mention the tyranny of the out-of-office reply.

By some estimates, we spend a quarter of our day dealing with e-mail, and what with all this time spent on it, it still sort of works, such as when the boss sends out a company-wide announcement, or you need to communicate with clients.

E-mail is indiscriminate. Because it’s the de facto means of communication, everything is included, and it’s only after a healthy dose of deletions that you can really get down to work. Not to say a WhatsApp group is any better; there always seems to be at least one loudmouth.

But e-mail doesn’t work very well when you have a large number of people attempting to get something done, and this is where the tools known as workstream collaboration (WSC) come in. Here, communication is based around a task, which cuts the noise to a steady hum of productivity.

According to Gartner, this market is going to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 96%, reaching about $4 931 billion by 2021, up from about $171 million as of last year.

According to the research house, WSC creates a ‘persistent, shared, conversational workspace that assists teams with initiating, organising and completing work’. All this is achieved through messaging, alerts, activity streams and content sharing, among other things.

It’s not going away

But that still doesn’t mean that e-mail is dead, even if many WSC vendors will have you believe it.

E-mail, says Gartner, still represents the standard – though inefficient – channel for fulfilling work.

“Even if WCS tools are widely adopted, Gartner believes e-mail will continue to be a mission-critical application.”

Muggie van Staden, the MD of open source solutions provider Obsidian Systems, says everyone is getting too much e-mail, and there are more effective ways of communicating. “There’s going to be a movement soon where people are going to stop replying to e-mails, and say, ‘If you’re not connected with me on other platforms, don’t expect a reply’.”

Van Staden’s company is a solutions partner for Atlassian, which makes collaboration tools for, among others, software developers.

Since its beginnings in 2001, Lisa Schaffer, Obsidian Systems’ principal Atlassian consultant, says Atlassian has ‘eaten its own dogfood’, and they ‘understood the pains customers would have gone through’. These customers are most of the big banks and insurance companies, as well as business, finance and marketing teams. Even stockbrokers are all using the software, says Schaffer.

Companies that use Atlassian tools also end up sending fewer e-mails, she says. “You’re all working in the same space, chatting about the same things. With (another Atlassian tool) HipChat, you can quickly spin up a room and talk about the day-to-day operational stuff without having to send an e-mail.”

Earlier this year, Atlassian bought Trello, a project management app, for $425 million.

Mail trail

Schaffer says when she’s training people to use Atlassian, she suggests they use Jira, because there’s an audit trail.

“For every conversation you have around a piece of work, it will be kept within that piece of work.” This means people aren’t searching their e-mail inbox, trying to fi gure out where the mail trail started.

“If somebody changed the subject header, all of a sudden, that mail no longer belongs to that group of mails.”

Schaffer says e-mail isn’t dead, “but our clients are moving away from e-mail as a form of collaboration. They’re using tools to collaborate.”

E-mail, too, is useful for external communication, such as when a customer wants information about a product, or when you’re dealing with suppliers.

Before sending a mail, Schaffer says she’ll first go to a company’s website to see if she can find the information she’s looking for.

“I don’t think South Africa has caught on to the fact that your website is now your reception area. And if more people spent some money and time getting their websites up and running, that would reduce the amount of e-mails and phone calls they’d get.

“We’re into an age of self-service, but some people are in denial.” Schaffer says companies are realising that they can’t take a whole year to deliver value.

“My customers want value now. We live in a society of instant gratification. This is why agile is such an important part of software development because you can deliver a portion of value to your customers. They may not have the entire Ferrari, but at least they can look at the body.”

Nick Bell, the CEO of Decision Inc, a management consultancy, says increasing clients’ productivity has been a big part of their business this year.

Organisations create a lot of communication, says Bell, and if they’re able to simplify it using technology, “it generally makes it a thousand times easier for the person on the other side who has to engage the process?”

Even going on holiday becomes stressful because you know that you’re going to come back to 500 messages.

There’s also the assumption that everything needs to be done quicker, because ‘we’re a lot more impatient than we were historically’.

“Instant access and speed have become a very big part of everybody’s conversation about their business.”

Bell says Decision Inc still uses e-mail, and it’s still a large part of client communication. Some teams use Slack, and when the company moves to new offices in January, they’ll be using Skype for Business. It also makes use of WhatsApp groups when running large projects with clients, because this means more people can get visibility into the job at hand.

If you’re fortunate, the nature of work is also becoming more collaborative.

“In the old days, everyone was locked in their office with the door closed. Now we want teams near one another, so rather than the traditional inefficiency of sending an e-mail and waiting for a response, you can collaborate and communicate with the person and get the answer immediately.”

Bell says many people are overwhelmed by the number or e-mails they get every day.

“Even going on holiday becomes stressful because you know that you’re going to come back to 500 messages.

“We’ve got to get out of that particular way of working.”

By Matthew Burbige for Brainstorm

Just a quick scroll through your inbox and it won’t be long before your come across statements like “think before you print”; “please consider the environment – do you really need to print this e-mail?”; “go green – go paperless”; and “do your bit for the environment and choose e-billing”.

The misconceptions about print and paper are still a major issue for the industry.

As these messages are unsubstantiated, they are misleading and can have a lasting effect on consumer perceptions of print and paper.
The print and paper industry is a world leader when it comes to sustainably-managed materials, renewable energy and recycling.

Some of the most common myths surrounding paper are:

European forests are shrinking;
* Planted forests are bad for the environment;
* Paper is bad for the environment;
* Paper production is a major cause of global greenhouse gas emissions;
* Only recycled paper should be used;
* Print and Paper is a wasteful product;
* Electronic communication is more environmentally friendly than paper-based  communication;
* Digital is always the preferred means of communication; and
* Packaging is wasteful and unnecessary.

Some key facts about print and paper’s sustainability:

* Between 2005 and 2015, European forests grew by an area the size of Switzerland – that’s 1 500 football pitches every day;
* Europe recycles 72% of its paper;
* 84% of the industry’s raw materials come from Europe;
* Between 2005 and 2013, the CO2 emissions of the European pulp and paper industry were reduced by 22%; and
* 56% of the industry’s total primary annual energy consumption is biomass-based.

TwoSides has created a new fact sheet, full of alternative e-mail sign-offs, to help encourage individuals and businesses to use fair, factual and honest statements in their e-mails.
The company has come up with a number of alternative footers for you to consider:

* Print and paper is renewable, sustainable and powerful. If you print, please recycle.

* Printed emails create a permanent and sustainable record but please ensure all waste paper is recycled.

* Responsibly Produced Print and Paper is Renewable, Recyclable, and Powerful. Visit www.twosides.info for more information.

* Responsibly produced paper has unique environmental features. It is highly recyclable and comes from a renewable resource. If you print, please recycle.

* Print on paper is a practical, attractive, and sustainable communications medium. If you print, please recycle.

* In Europe there is no shortage of trees. Responsibly produced paper is a renewable and recyclable product and can be an environmentally sustainable way to communicate. If you print, please recycle.

* If you print, please recycle. Ensure you choose paper from companies that source fibre from well-managed, certified forests.

* Yes, it’s OK to print your emails – but please recycle waste paper.

We shouldn’t have to feel guilty about printing our e-mails. Just ensure that you use paper from certified or sustainably-managed forests, print double-sided and always recycle.

Source: www.twosides.info


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E-mail subject lines tend to be prime real estate for marketers.

Because digital marketing is predicated on accruing e-mail subscribers – and subject lines play a big role in determining whether those subscribers open your e-mails – compelling people in just a few words poses a big challenge and responsibility for anyone creating e-mails.

Brands understand this – so much so that many subject lines tend to overpromise and underdeliver on content. Marketers think, “People will see the value once they open the e-mail. So let’s do whatever we can to influence opens.”

However, deceptive subject lines can break subscribers’ trust. Even if there is value within those e-mails, if your e-mail doesn’t close the loop on the promises of your subject line – without having to click through – you risk misleading subscribers.

Worse, deceptive subject lines violate spam laws and could significantly impact your sender reputation, a critical factor in how ESPs filter your messages.

These bad habits also have a significant impact on your team. If open rates are valued above trust and brand equity, opens will also be what are celebrated. Unfortunately, opens don’t necessarily suggest long-term benefits or organisational value, so as a result, your team winds up stuck in a cycle of meaningless growth, valuing and celebrating the wrong factors.

Instead, you need to craft e-mails that are so useful that their value is naturally reflected in the subject lines. No tricks, gimmicks, or “open at all costs” mentality.

To do so, focus on utility and curiosity.

It’s about people, not your brand

Subject lines should focus exclusively on the customer. People don’t care about what you’ve learned or discovered unless it impacts them. People don’t value products or services; they value what a product or service enables them to do.

People crave utility and tangibility, so you need to deliver both in every e-mail. Forget about first name personalisation. Personalise the subject matter, not the subject.

I joined the Dollar Shave Club last fall, and right before my first box shipped, I received an e-mail with the subject line “Your first box is about to ship. Toss more in.”

This was pretty pertinent information for me. Naturally, I opened it.

Inside were four product suggestions, including a shave butter I had never tried. I wouldn’t normally purchase shave butter, but at $4.99, I thought, “Why not? One less thing I have to remember at the store.”

Dollar Shave Club knows its users value convenience over features. Its razors don’t have eight blades, a battery, or other gimmicks. They’re just razors. But they’re delivered to customers’ doorsteps every month for less than they’d pay in the store: convenience over features.

This e-mail, from the subject line through the body copy, stayed consistent with this message. That’s personalisation. Dollar Shave Club doesn’t need to use my name anywhere in the e-mail. Instead, it knows why I buy and uses this to improve my experience and increase sales.

Opening a curiosity gap

One of the harsh truths of e-mail marketing is that the inbox is not a meritocracy. Great e-mails are ignored every day because of generic subject lines. While your e-mail might actually be packed with utility, if the subject line is uninspired, your subscribers are likely to follow suit.

While there are many methods of combating this problem, one of the most effective I’ve found is one of the oldest triggers of influence used in marketing and advertising: curiosity.

Curiosity is like an itch; once someone feels it, it’s hard to ignore. Instead of writing subject lines like “How to improve your meta description and boost search rankings,” you would use something like “This one line of copy could boost your search rankings.”

Which do you think would perform better?

This is actually a widespread tactic used to market a lot of things. Just look to your local 11 p.m. news for evidence. You might hear something like, “These five items in your medicine cabinet could be causing you cancer. Stay tuned at 11.”

Heavy stuff. But it just might get you to tune in.

Joanna Wiebe, founder of Copy Hackers, demonstrated the effectiveness of the curiosity gap in an e-mail subject line she worked on with Quick Sprout that saw super-high open rates. The subject line?

“Boom! This is how you get traffic…and convert it.”

This e-mail saw a 102% open rate. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

But here’s the most important part about opening curiosity gaps in e-mail subject lines: you must close them! This is critical. Don’t make readers open the e-mail, click through to your site, and follow several steps before getting around to closing that curiosity gap. This will adversely affect your overall engagement success.

Marketers with an “open at all costs” mentality will think otherwise, but you’re better than that. If you’re here reading this article, you feel some degree of responsibility to create a great experience for your subscribers.

Hang onto this. It’ll serve you and your subscribers well.

By John Bonini for www.performancein.com

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