Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Decimates Email Lists: How To Rebuild

Happy Canada Day. And an added happy Anti-Spam Day!

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) came into effect today, and I don’t think many Canadian companies are excited about their marketing prospects going forward. A lot of corporate email lists have been decimated, because of the new law’s requirement for “expressed consent.”

Over the past sixty days businesses have been doing their best to stay on the right side of the law by asking for “consent” from all of their subscribers. But the results have not been positive for many companies.

I conducted a short survey last week, and almost everyone I spoke with has witnessed a dramatic decline in their email lists. One CMO, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “We got crushed. Our main list fell from over 20,000 to less than 5,000.”

I was empathetic, but not surprised. Companies have become complacent in their email marketing, and they’re waking up to the harsh reality that their subscribers were not really subscribers at all.

It starts with a relationship

In June I received 206 “please give us your consent” emails, but only 7 of them came addressed from a person.

What were companies thinking?

I don’t have a relationship with a faceless business. I have relationships with people. And when it comes to their content, I have a relationship with the people who write the content. But email after email came from “the company.”

If you’re serious about content marketing, it starts with a relationship. If you want our attention then you’ve got to give a piece of yourself too. Content marketing is a give and take process.

Reveal the people behind your content. Let your audience form a bond with them as people. We want to hear “people’s opinions” not “company opinions.”

Give subscribers choice

Email is not the only way people get their content. Some people may prefer to get your content via RSS, others through social media, and some may even prefer snail mail.

Give your audience options, and let them choose how they want to engage with your content.

And you may find some people just don’t want to subscribe to your content at all. That’s ok too. You’ve got a phone. If you want to maintain a relationship with them, pick up the phone.

Focus on opt-in

It’s better to ask for permission than forgiveness.

Since 2009 my email list has been 100% opt-in. I have retained the date, time and source of every subscriber to Sticky Branding’s content.

To grow my list I have purposefully designed my website and my approach to encourage email subscribers, and the list grows organically every day.

The benefit of a 100% opt-in list is more engaged subscribers, and a much clearer picture of the people who value your content.

Nothing trumps good content

If you want an active and productive email list, you’ve got to give people a reason to pay attention. You’ve got to deliver exceptional content.

The vast majority of corporate content is watered down drivel. Where are the opinions? Where are the insights? Where is the personality?

Take a page from people like Gini Dietrich (Arment Dietrich) or Mitch Joel (Twist Image). They create content people want to consume. It’s smart, interesting and engaging. It’s well produced, and they deliver consistently.

We all suffer from information overload. Give your audience a reason to choose your content.

I’m grateful

I am not a fan of the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation. I find it draconian, and misdirected. But I am looking forward to a new dawn of a lighter inbox.

Let July 1st be a wake-up call. Hopefully companies will use the change in legislation as an opportunity to improve their marketing practices and build deeper relationships with the people who value their content.