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CASL is coming! CASL is coming! CASL is coming!

What does this mean?
How does this affect me?
What do I have to do?
When should I start preparing?

These are just some of the many questions I have been asked by businesses, nonprofits, and every other type of organization that uses email or SMS text messages to communicate with Canadians.

People are left with lots of questions, but don’t seem to be getting a lot of answers. Myself and the team at Elite Email knew we had to fix that!

There cannot be this new piece of legislation that impacts every marketer with penalties to the tune of millions of dollars, that people do not understand. After all, it’s really hard to comply with something, if you do not understand what you’re complying with, or what compliance would look like.

I had previously written a blog post to help people understand CASL, but now with the July 1, 2014 date looming closer and more organizations placing “CASL compliance” higher on their radar, I knew there was an urgent need for something more comprehensive. People needed one detailed source of information to help them understand the new law, but, even more important than that, give them a step-by-step plan on the road to compliance.

With that being said, I am happy to announce that after a tremendous amount of effort, today we are releasing Elite Email’s CASL Survival Guide.
CASL Survival Guide

 
The guide is available online (as web pages), PDF, and ePub/eBook format.

It covers all the essentials including:

  • Overview of CASL
  • Final Regulations & Recent Modifications
  • CASL’s Bite / Penalties
  • CASL Requirements
  • In-Depth Look at Consent
  • How to Prepare for CASL
  • Will CASL Ultimately Be a Good Thing?

The actual legislation is a massive document that you can read here if you happen to have a lot of time on your hands and enjoy deciphering cryptic language. But, if you want to get all the information written in language you can understand, then this guide is for you!

I also want to take a moment to thank all the people involved in putting this document together. It was a true collaborative effort and the final results clearly shows everyone’s desire and drive to make this the best CASL resource that exists today.

I hope this guide is a great resource to everyone that will help prepare your for the post-CASL era of marketing to Canadians.

 

Today we have a guest blog post from my very good friend and seasoned email marketing veteran, Aubrey Stork.


Like other Email Marketers, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into finding fun and unique ways to build the opt-in subscriber lists for various organizations.  The truth of the matter is, if you don’t continue to deliver on your promise, all your list-building efforts are for not; your list will erode as quickly as you can say “See ya later alligator!”

Please Don't Unsubscribe

While some still use shady methods to minimize opt-outs like hiding the opt-out link and creating convoluted processes, retaining subscribers is best done through proper opt-in practices, optimal sending frequency and ensuring value is delivered with each and every communication.

Here are some of the biggest factors contributing to unsubscribes:

1. Shoddy Opt-in Process

Permission is paramount.  While this point has been driven home for years, it’s still prevalent with many organizations who simply add addresses they think should be added to their mailing lists without proper permission.  Marketers: list size is only one measurement of success.  If your mailing list is massive, but no one on your list cares about what you have to say, what’s the point?  Sending your message to those who haven’t opted-in not only goes against worldwide email best practices and is in direct violation of the E-Privacy Directive (and shortly CASL/FISA/Bill-C-28 in Canada), but it’s also a great disservice to your brand and will result in higher opt-out rates.

Single opt-in’s can also be an invitation for illegitimate sign-ups, so implement a double-opt in to maintain the integrity of your list.  Though on the surface, marketers see the double opt-in as an impedance to the process, it’s actually a fantastic opportunity.  Your new subscriber is more likely to open your double opt-in and welcome email than any other communication through your entire email relationship.  Take advantage and use these pieces as up-sell and profile-development opportunities.

2. Unfulfilled Promises

Sign-up now and get a free week membership!

Sign-up now to access your free white paper!

Sign-up today and receive a $50 gift card!

These incentives may be enough to get the opt-in, but it does little to set the expectation for the ongoing email relationship and may therefore translate to poor subscriber quality.  Tell the potential subscriber how you’re going to continue to provide value.  Include the ongoing promise in the call-to-action.  For example, “Sign-up now to access your free white paper and receive exclusive access to research every quarter!”

During the sign-up process, include a link to your latest newsletter to demonstrate that you’re living up to your promise and continuing to offer value to subscribers.

3. Wrong Frequency

Frequency is a balancing act.  With consumers being exposed to as many as 5,000 brands each day, you don’t want to inundate your subscribers with information too frequently, but you need also need to stay present so that they don’t forget who you are and the value you bring.

Some studies show that a communication every 3-4 weeks is ideal, however; this really depends on your business, your customers/subscriber base and your content.

One of the key benefits to email is the ability to run tests and get quick, accurate results.  So, see what difference a week makes with your subscribers and try testing frequency:  Take 2 samples of your database.  Send to 1 sample a week in advance of your regular sending time.  Send to the other sample 1 week after your normal sending time.  See how they compare to the rest of your subscribers.  Were the open rates higher?  How about the click-through rates?  If there’s no significant difference, keep this going for a few months (4-6 months should begin to show some variance).  Continue this sort of test to further refine and find the optimal frequency foryour subscriber base.*

Your optimal frequency can also be driven by content, which brings us to the next point…

4. Poor Content

While still considering all of the above, if you have an engaged audience who recognizes the value of your email, frequency will matter less than an exchange of valuable content.  The biggest factor driving opt-outs is irrelevant or too much content within a given communication.  Another key benefit of email is the ability to easily target your message.  Make sure everyone your sending to will care about what you have to say: target your messages accordingly.

If you’re trying to maintain a certain frequency but you don’t have content to pique the interest of everyone in your database, consider the following:

  • Add dynamic content to ensure that regardless of the story/stories being featured, there’s something individually pertinent to each recipient.  For example, if you’re a Realtor and you’re sending information to your client base on increasing rates, someone who just locked into their mortgage for 5 years may not be interested, however; if you can highlight homes in the specific recipient’s area, this will provide value to the subscriber.  Or, if you run a gym you could include an exercise of the week that’s tailored to the type of workout the recipient does (cardio, weights, classes, etc.) alongside your primary message.
  • Include polls.  If you include a poll, regardless of the editorial content, you’re providing something for your subscriber to engage with, not to mention that polls can build on your recipient profiles which can in turn help you continue to refine and tailor your content.
  • Include social feeds.  Similar to polls, this could be another way to engage your subscriber.  Even if your recipient doesn’t relate to the content in your current newsletter, the communication is an opportunity to build brand ambassadors in the social space.  Get them involved by showing the latest – and most compelling – conversations about your organization on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

If you have the opposite problem, too much content, organize it dynamically or target reordered variations of your message based on the recipient’s profile or past interaction(s) with your newsletter(s).  In any case, keep the content within your newsletter to a minimum.  Include teaser-text and link out to the full story, not only to keep the message clean and clear, but also to be able to accurately measure engagement and better understand the kind of information most important to your subscriber.

Over and Out

Building a high-quality subscriber base can be tough work, so be sure to treat every communication as a privilege and not a right in order to continually engage and retain your subscribers.  Leverage the power of email with testing, personalization, segmentation and dynamic content to refine your efforts.  Above all, never forget about the promise you made when your subscriber signed-up; ask yourself if each recipient will find value in your email before hitting send.

 *This is a simple test method that requires all other variables to remain consistent (i.e. content, day and time deployed, other communications with your organization, etc.)


For 10 years, Email Strategist Aubrey Stork has been making meaningful connections with customers, clients, prospects and donors through email. His strategic approach blends the experience of bringing both technical and creative solutions to many of the world’s most recognized brands.  As a trusted partner, you can count on Aubrey to deliver strategic email solutions that effectively address your unique business challenges.

Is your audience disengaged?  Is your share of wallet what it could be?  Are you caught in a cycle of expensive customer acquisition due to high churn?  Connect with Aubrey today to learn how your business challenges might be effectively and efficiently addresses with email.

 

We all know that over the years politicians have developed a less than stellar reputation. But, in the back of my mind, even through all the scandals, mud slinging and broken promises, I’d like to believe that deep down inside the key political figures of our time can still in some sense lead by example. As it turns out, especially from the perspective of an email marketing guy, that is not true.

Elite Email has learned that defeated Presidential Candidate New Gingrich is actually selling the email database of his donors in an effort to dig his campaign out of the $4 million debt.

Personally, I am disgusted by this because I cannot believe someone who was vying for the Presidency of the United States could so easily turn their back on supporters. I mean, if Newt Gingrich could not follow the privacy policy on his website (see below), how could he possibly have been in charge of foreign policy for America?!

The privacy policy on his campaign website says:

“We are committed to protecting your privacy online.”

Clearly they are not trying very hard! The campaign is selling the donor database (complete with email address and other personal details) through a brokerage firm named TMA Direct. What this means is that anyone who donated to the Newt 2012 campaign is going to have their information exposed and will likely start receiving a lot more spam. Moreover, this spam will be of the worst kind because the database isn’t just your email address, it’s your other personal details, too.

To make matters worse, the Gingrich campaign is also doing “email appending”. What this means is that if you donated to the campaign, but did NOT give your email address, they can still use all your other personal information to get your email address. Once they have that, they bundle it all together and sell your complete record.

This is covered by this part of the campaign’s privacy policy:

“We may obtain information about you from outside sources and add it to or combine it with the information we collect”

This is really a bad practice that all email markers frown upon because it means that even though you didn’t give your email address to the campaign and definitely did not provide consent to receive emails, they can still email you…. and now they are selling your data!

You can read our full press release here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/email-marketing/newt-gingrich/prweb9512721.htm

One of the first things we teach anyone who is working at Elite Email is about permission mailing lists, opt-in, and consent. We ensure that everyone here understands what “email marketing best practices” are, what the “spam laws” are, and how we can ensure the integrity of our network by only sending legitimate email marketing campaigns so they can teach & coach our customers. It is terrible to see a political candidate completely balk at all of this and do something so blatantly against the rules.

I understand that political campaigns are expensive, and I understand that the Gingrich campaign being in debt is not good news for then… but sacrificing the privacy of your donors as a remedy to me is way way over the line.

As one last little tidbit of interesting information…. the price that is being charged for your data is actually higher if you were a “big donor” and lower if you were a “small donor”.

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