breaking bread

In the midst of morning headlines from Qz, Daily Maverick, and the Economist, Supermart’s daily marketing mailer has a special place. It is not news — Supermart sells groceries online — but I read it everyday. Usually, the headline is enough, but sometimes I open it to be delighted by this perfect slice of hilarity.

Nobody really enjoys reading marketing email. Gmail has a promotion tab where shit like that falls into, so you never have to see it. But then, you have never seen email marketing like this. It’s just insane. Take a look at some of my favourite Supermart headlines.

Why don’t you touch me anymore?

Get your mind out of the gutter, it’s not what you were thinking. Instead, it’s the plaintive complaint of the solitary first slice of bread that everyone carefully ignores. This one sent me back to my parents’ house.

supermart bread

Why settle for 1, when you can have 2?

Basically an ad for printers.

supermart print

I need you everyday of my life

Of course, we might as well sing a love song to rice, since we can’t do without it.

supermart rice

There’s loads more, all quirky, interesting, informative, or just plain funny. Wa gba Cointreau was a blatant ad for spirits, but every so often you get this kind of wonderful explainer that teaches you the right way to shave…and recommends the best equipment to do it too, of course.

Increasingly, brands are realising that it is possible to cultivate and engage their own captive audiences by serving them content they would ordinarily consume from other sources. Content marketing is already a fully developed discipline in advanced markets. But in other climes where social media as an outreach medium is still in its wild wild west phase, and digital marketing spend is still peanuts compared to the traditional, this sort of engagement is still novel. In Nigeria, many have tried with varying amounts of success. In addition to really boring email marketing, Jumia and Konga both have blogs, which I don’t know that anybody reads.

supermart founders

But somehow, Supermart’s founders who are both ex-Jumia have figured out a way to make me open their email almost 100 percent of the time. I reached out to Raphael Afaedor, the CEO to ask what impact the strategy had on their email open rates and ultimately sales conversions. Raphael replied that the email campaign effort is headed by Gbolahan Fagbure his co-founder, who works with a two-man team for the purpose. They meet every week to brainstorm concepts and headlines.

“We get a lot of positive responses so I guess we have a better open rate than most”, Gbolahan said.

Gbolahan wouldn’t divulge any data, so for all I know, I’m the only one who likes Supermart’s email. But my sense is that it actually works, and they are not too keen on sharing this competitive advantage with other online stores, in a space notorious for fast followers.

Supermart are not the only ones who have figured out the secret of engaging content. In January 2014, Mark Essien, CEO of hired someone called “Naijasinglegirl” to create humourous content about real or imagined travel escapades. She ended up creating insanely funny pieces like this one, which has 73 comments and Mark says still does a few thousand dollars of sales every month. He won’t say much more than that. I wonder why…

I am yet to buy anything from Supermart. But if they keep sending me excellent shaving advice, I figure it’s only a matter of time.

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