How Good Is Your Customer and Prospect Email List? Why Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law Makes Sense

E mailThanks to the Internet, connecting with customers and prospects has gotten somewhat easier. For my clients, all of whom are located in the United States, email marketing is a viable vehicle for reaching those customers and prospects. Since the US Federal government enacted the CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act of 2003, most businesses comply with an opt-out option when sending emails.

Our neighbor to the north has taken a new and more strict approach. Yep. Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL), which took effect in July, requires implied (information published in plain sight, given to the business, through an existing business or non-business relationship) and express consent (contact clearly agreed) for any business to send electronic information to their contacts.  Basically, you need contacts to opt-in to receive emails.

Third Party Email Lists Can Be Too Good to Be True

While the opt-out option is routine today, what Canada has put in place makes some sense. Especially if a business wants to email to credible email addresses.

Buying email lists can send a small business down a slippery slope if you’re not careful. First of all, people who don’t know you or your product/service are harder to sell to and may not want to get an email from your business.

In addition, most email list providers promise good contact information, but purchased lists can be full of out-of-date data.  How well do you know the list seller? Be very selective when purchasing lists and do a test emailing to determine the value of the list.

Bad data usually leads to low deliverability.  This doesn’t just get you bounced emails, it can potentially hurt your email sending reputation. What? Yes. Reputable email service providers monitor email activity and watch for things like properly formatted emails, change in email volume being sent, email bounce rates.  The last thing any business wants is their ISP flagging their account and blocking all email activity.

Build Your Own Email List

Getting emails from people who want to stay connected to your business will give you better email lists, which will give you better deliverability and a better reputation with your service provider…a better scenario all around.

How do you build an email list?  Here are some suggestions.

  1. Add a “Sign-Up for Email” to your website.
  2. Invite new customers to sign up as part of the e-commerce purchasing process.
  3. Ask at trade shows.
  4. Offer email sign up on everything including marketing collateral, invoices, rebate cards, advertisements, direct mail, etc.
  5. Ask when meeting with customers and prospects.
  6. Require an email as part of website visitor downloads and requests.
  7. When a customer or prospect calls you with questions or requests, ask them to join your email list.

Be responsible and respectful and before you know it, that email list will be growing and valuable.

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