Email Marketing in South Africa is truly in it's infancy. There are few true ESP's in South Africa, and very few companies truly using Email Marketing to it's full potential.
With mobile access so high here, ESP's needs an innovative approach to capturing the leads and integrating that into a total email marketing solution. With a population of around 50+ Million, even though high levels are on cell phones, the market is growing rapidly, so its more about getting the education out to the marketplace to build a business. In the mean time, many local ESP's find that it's just easier to target international as well because of all the people in that market that just use it "as is".
There is thus huge potential for any ESP/Marketing Agency who can properly educate the market as to the benefits of email marketing, as well as getting past the ingrained objections against spending money monthly for "electronic marketing".
Anti Spam Legislation
Up until November 2013, there wasn't any anti spam legislation. This meant that end users were "legally" inundated with spam. Unfortunately this has jaded many South Africans, who look at email marketing messages with very high levels of distrust. Much more so than in other areas of the world.
In November of 2013, POPI (The Protection of Personal Information Act), was passed and signed into law. All companies have roughly a year to fully implement the regulations laid out in the act. Only time will tell if the act will be fully enforced.
The act was not specifically written for email marketing like in some other countries. It deals in all matters where personal information is collected, and has specific sections covering email marketing, SMS, direct mail, faxes and even robocall services.
Thankfully the act has pretty strict penalties of up to about US$ 1 Million per incident, and/or, up to 10 years in jail. Again, only time will tell how thoroughly these penalties will be applied.