“We Kindly Request Your Consent To Opt-In To Our Mailing List” — Like everyone in our fair country of Canada, my inbox is currently inundated with corporate emails that have a subject line requesting permission to receive electronic communications.  The reason? 

Canada’s new anti-spam law  looms like fireworks:
CASL begins next Tuesday, July 1, a.k.a. Canada Day.

As I describe in two other CASL blog posts:

… even as a fervent marketer who loves email, I totally appreciate this law coming into effect. I think the net impact on Canadian society is positive. See the Government of Canada website here:

http://fightspam.gc.ca

It got me to thinking. What will some of the impact be?

1) My inbox will be (slightly) less full

13000 emails in gmail inbox unread spam stephdokin stephen kingThe pain of endless “please opt-in” emails is almost over. As of July 1st … Tuesday next week … that’s when CASL becomes law. After that day, if you don’t have express consent, you can’t even send people an email to ask for it.

I look forward to less emails, and more importantly, receiving just the emails that I actually care about vs. spam.

I don’t expect the volume of email to subside in my inbox too much, though. I’m on a LOT of lists, many are in the U.S. / global and, I’ve noticed, they have NOT been sending me “opt-in” emails. See Prediction #7 below.

(yes, that’s a real screen shot of my Gmail 13,000 unread messages)

2) Marketing mailing lists will shrink by 87%

Oh. Em. Gee. This is gonna be tough on a lot of marketers.

You know that 7,681 person prospect database you’ve slaved over for the last 3 years to grow? If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with about 1,000 people in that list by next Tuesday.

The industry average click-through rate varies between industries (MailChimp has lots of comparison data), the average across my whole client base is a healthy 13%. Thirteen per cent of the people on your list MAY click on the request link in your email … and then they MAY fill out your new subscription form … and then they MAY click on the confirmation email when they receive it (double opt-in).

So when you send your “Request for Opt-in” email out to your mailing lists, I think you’ll be doing very well with 13% x 7,681 = 1,000’ish. (if you’re lucky!)

Losing 6,681 email addresses in the process. Take heart, though. At least you know those 1,000 people who opt-in are the ones that really care about your business and products. Take solace in the higher open and click-through rates.

My advice on the people who opt-in? Treat them very special. They are your real evangelists.

3) Sales will slow down; businesses will die.

A company’s mailing list can be an important source of leads.

Guess what happens when you reduce leads by 87%? Sales takes a BIG hit.

I am fearful for many companies, especially small businesses who don’t have much cash-flow flexibility from one month to the next. Watch for businesses closing their doors because of CASL. Sad but true.

4) Bulk eMail Marketing List databases are rendered even more useless.

Bulk Email List Stephdokin CASL Canada Anti Spam Law Stephen KingIf you have purchased a Bulk email marketing list in the past, stop using it. Period.

Is it just me, or does this finally kill the companies who’ve been peddling Bulk email mailing lists? There’s absolutely no way they have express consent from their database for me to send the recipients an email. 

Switchway

The graphic to the right is an excerpt from an email response I sent to www.switchways.com, a company that recently spammed me looking to sell me a spam list to which I could spam. (I’m still waiting for the response. ha!)

Switchway spammed me looking to sell me a spam list to which I could spam.

The lists never really worked that well anyway. Last time I apologetically tried one was about 2 years ago. Response rate was dismal; less that 0.5% (vs my avg of 13%). I swore off the things.

So besides being mostly useless, they are now illegal if they contain email addresses for Canadian recipients.

5) Canada Post wins with more direct mail.

If you can’t send email to an email address, then why not just mail to a physical address? Old school. Will Canada Post  see a resurgence in deliveries as companies turn their attention back to bulk direct mail campaigns?

I think so. I’ve been a bit of an advocate for DM’s again — people still respond to clever physical messaging (ensuring it’s tied into your digital campaigns of course).

Reaching a wide, unaware, broad audience on a direct 1:1 basis is always going to be a need for marketers. Marketers are marketers.

At least the Switchways-of-the-World can still sell physical mail addresses.

6) Canada spams the world.

Canada companies can still send electronic communications to email addresses they have for recipients outside of Canada that have not given express consent (as defined by CASL); the U.S. CAN-SPAM law hasn’t changed, for example. Will Canadian companies turn to international business email campaigns now that the national ones are suffering?

In fact, the Switchways-of-the-World can STILL sell their databases to Canadian companies who want to market shamelessly in other countries.(So, maybe the bulk email sellers will be ok after all 😉

Canada the Spam King? Ha ha. Probably not.

All I’m saying … in the rush to clean-up your database, don’t delete your U.S. email addresses too. You can get express consent from that group over time (if you don’t have it already).

7) U.S. companies get caught unprepared.

Speaking of the U.S., what’s the impact for U.S. companies? A common rule of thumb is that for most industries, Canada is about 10 times less the  opportunity than the total of the U.S.

In fact, Canada is about the same size as California. I suspect if CASL had been enacted in California, many U.S. companies would take note.

However, I still suspect that many U.S. companies are unprepared for CASL, because I know that many Canadian companies are scambling themselves.

One thing’s for sure. Whether you’re a Canadian company or a U.S. company, the $10M fine is still the same for transgression.

8) Social Media electronic communications become illegal.

This is weird and a bit confusing.

It seems to me that when someone Friends, Follows, +Add’s or Likes a Business Fan Page they are giving you explicit consent to send them electronic communication. That’s the nature of the relationship.

But, a Like is not explicit consent according to the act. Here’s an excerpt from the Government of Canada website:

“The mere use of buttons available on social media websites – such as clicking “like”, voting for or against a link or post, accepting someone as a “Friend”, or clicking “Follow” – will generally be insufficient to constitute a personal relationship.”
Government of Canada: http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/h_00050.html#Commercial

Which means the “likes” of your business fan page will not have explicitly opted-in to receive a message from your business.

But, wait. When you post something of a commercial nature on your business fan page, it’s broadcast on your follower’s news feed. Many owners of businesses & sales people also post commercial messages directly on their personal Facebook pages. Hell, we’ve all done that at some point.

Commercial electronic messages being sent without permission on social platforms? That seems to be the situation.

A business can even pay Facebook to “Promote” the commercial message, giving it more priority on people’s news feeds (compounding the issue). In LinkedIn, many people have lots of contacts … sending email to a group of LinkedIn contacts is pretty easy, even easier to send to one person … and I’m sure everyone has their share of LinkedIn spam. Is this covered by the act?

So, all is not quite sorted out yet. But, it’ll start for real next Tuesday, no matter what.

Happy Canada Day, eh?