Uncovered: Best Opt In Email Marketing for South Africa

If your business is located in South Africa, what’s the best opt in marketing service? Should you choose a local one, or an international one?

I’ll first give you the answer, and then we’ll work our way through the reasons why: I would choose an international opt in marketing provider, every time.

Here’s why:

In a nutshell, international opt in email marketing providers just “get it”. They understand online marketing and all things Internet far better than we currently do in South Africa, and their websites reflect this.

And they are very competitive. Which is good for their customers; for you and I.


You just have to do an online search for “email marketing” to see that the industry is highly competitive. Every month, according to SEMRush, 14.8K people search for “email marketing”.


how many people search for email marketingWhen the results pop up, you will never find a South African opt in email marketing service.

You may argue that this does not reflect poor quality of our software in SA, but I say it affects their customers negatively because it shows a low global search engine ranking, and this is primarily due to a lack of content. Translated? This means that there’s not a whole lot of support for their clients. And trust me, when you start out with any service, international or local, you’re going to need that support. Especially if you are new at opt in email marketing.

I also find that global companies provide better service, also because of the competitive factor.

Anyway, let’s get back on track… Competition in this industry is good. It forces email marketing platforms to up their game and keep on top of things.

Unfortunately, South African services don’t even make the grade in any of the first pages of global search results.


Just about anything is possible to do online; you just have to think it. Nine out of ten times, someone else has already thought about it, and the answers are right there, just a Google search away.

Now, your South African business may not require anything fancy and you may not need any third parties to integrate with your opt in marketing activities, in which case by all means, go for the SA opt in marketing provider, but if you start thinking out of the box, and you’re with an SA one, you will more than likely come up stumped. South African email marketing software providers are just not up to par with regards to this.

Here’s an example: the majority of online marketing campaigns require a targeted landing page. (South African opt in email marketing services – excluding The Grapevine Group which is the only South African provider who includes landing pages, don’t offer this feature.)

To be fair, no email marketing software does, even internationally, except for GetResponse (who is international), so with any software, you’d need a third party landing page platform. Now, if you went with any of the top worldwide email marketing platforms (like GetResponse), integrating this third party would be a peace of cake, but it may not even be possible with a South African platform. In this case, your life’s about to get very complicated…

Let’s look at this scenario:

You send an email to your subscribers with an opt in link to promote a sale:


opt in email marketing linkGood marketing dictates that you send them to a targeted landing page, not just a website that contains too many distractions. So you need landing page software which needs to be integrated with your email marketing platform:

example of a landing pageImage Credit: DreamTemplate

Example of a targeted landing page.

When you need additional functions, the ability to integrate with other 3rd party services, is essential.

Ease of use

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so with that in mind, I’ll let the images do the talking…

In the following example, I randomly picked a South African provider (MyListManager) and did a Google search with the term, “mylistmanager tutorial”. These are the search results:

google search results for mylistmanagerNo tutorials to be found online!

To be fair, I went to check if they had it hidden somewhere on their website. They don’t have a tutorial, but they do have FAQ – all 17 of them.

On the other hand, I did a Google search using a top international platform (GetResponse), and these are the search results (the results go on for many, many more pages):

google search results for getresponseNot only does GetResponse supply a huge amount of tutorials (see the next point in this article), but you can get information in any shape and form, by video, text, image, etc.

And because overseas platforms offer affiliate programs, there are a huge amount of affiliates who also offer additional help which is beneficial.

The other thing about ease of use: almost all international platforms work instantly, i.e., they have buttons with pricing and features, so the user can get started immediately without any need for contact with the platform, but all South African opt in email marketing platforms require contact with a team member first. For instance, Totalsend SA wants you to request an account, while the Grapevine Group require you to contact them.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to necessarily wait SA business hours to get started. I want to find out everything on their website, and I want to get going, whether it’s the weekend or not.


We’ve covered this briefly in the point before, but it’s also important to know what support each opt in email marketing service provides. On MyListManager’s site, you can select information from a disappointing 17 FAQ:

mylistmanager faq

Their team may be contacted via email, fax, phone, or website form.

Now, if you want support from GetResponse, you’ll be able to find a categorized, searchable database of FAQ, together with video options, or you can join webinars to learn more, download manuals, whitepapers and reports, check out GetResponse’s TV, get a glossary of terms, contact the team via email, phone, social media or best of all, live chat 24 hours a day:

support for getresponse customersOne of the major differences between a local and global opt in email marketing platform, is the level of online support.


I must be honest and tell you that South Africa excels in this department. Most of our email marketing services are a lot more affordable than their overseas counterparts, and the best thing about them is that they allow you to start for free if you have a small list of subscribers, and then after you grow, only then do you begin to pay.

But before you get excited, you need to understand that you really need to do your homework before selecting the right platform for your business, because to uproot after you’ve invested time and effort on your email lists, can be exceptionally difficult and time consuming. Be very careful about who you go with.


The majority of South African opt in email marketing platforms offer an unlimited amount of time as a trial period depending on your list amount. International services usually offer a minimum of 14 days trial time, and some up to 30 free days.


As much as I would like to support my South African opt in email marketing comrades, they just can’t compete with the international platforms. Not yet anyway.

The reason for this is:

  1. South African software is limited in third party integrations which can make your life unnecessarily complicated depending on what you plan to do with your email marketing activities and how advanced you plan to get.
  2. South African platforms do not make their software as easy to use as their overseas competitors.
  3. International software offers far more support, so that you can work on the software whenever you choose, instead of the SA ones only being available during office hours, and only through limited contact points.

South African platforms are more affordable and your business can grow with them, but don’t make your choice based solely on affordability, because if you want more sophisticated features, you may be forced to move to another provider and this can prove time consuming and downright painful.

If you’re located in South Africa, what opt in email marketing service do you use? Are you happy with it? Make a comment below.

Author: Claire
Not just a writer, Claire specialises in increasing your website traffic and online sales through the use of smart, search engine optimised content that is targeted towards a certain audience. She specialises in compiling online content for SaaS, Telecoms, small business and marketing. Claire comes from a background in marketing and service operations analytics focusing on the customer experience.


  • This is so interesting! There is so much information here I did not know and that I can use in the future. I don’t use an email marketing service at the moment, but am looking in to all my options.

    • Claire

      Let me know if you’d like some more suggestions – I have researched available tools to death, so know about their pricing, features, etc. Mostly though, test them thoroughly before choosing one, as most times you only get to see if they will work for you when you actually use them. Good luck!

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