Canadian Anti-Spam Laws Killed my List

Canadian Anti-Spam Laws CASLAs a Canadian business, you know that the new Canadian Anti-Spam law came into effect on July 1st.

I would like to say that I am frustrated with the way Canadian government continues to try and strangle our business owners. With the ‘do-not-call’ list (we’ve seen how well this works, NOT), fax/telecommunications laws, and now the anti-spam laws, it is making it very difficult for business owners to reach out to prospective clients and build their lists. I wouldn’t mind so much if they were able to inflict this pain on businesses outside our country being able to bombard us too.  I understand the reasoning behind it, but I question their ability to properly govern it. That being said…

If you were like many people, your list was populated with email addresses that you had manually added, had stale/outdated information and it did not contain the necessary information to protect you if you were challenged.  Chances are you decided to become compliant and sent out notification to your subscribers to ask them to opt back in. This is where reality probably hit. Are you finding this new law killed your list?

You might have noticed only 10-20% of your initial ‘subscribers’ opted back in to your list. Why is that? There are several factors that contribute to this:

1. Improper Opting In

One of the contributing factors is people not following the proper procedure to opt-in. This is a mandatory 2 step process. They might start by filing in their email etc., but miss the verification email (might be caught in their spam filter) that is required to complete the process. So, they might think they have signed up, when in fact they haven’t.

Tip: Make sure when you are sending out any request to opt-in, that you explain the 2 step process and what is required for full subscription. Also know, people don’t read, so keep it short, clear and place it near the top where they won’t miss it.

2. Email servers block what might be considered spam

It’s possible people never saw that email or even previous ones for that matter. Products like Mailchimp or Constant Contact send emails en masse. There are servers out there that are trained to recognize this types of emails or subject lines and block them or divert them from peoples’ inbox to spam folders or reject them entirely. if your client or prospect uses webmail, they are more likely to see these emails if they are placed in their junk or spam folder. If your prospect uses a product such as Outlook where they pull their mail from the host server, they may miss seeing it altogether. As a test, log into your provider and take a close look at the open-rate of your previous mailings. You might discover the actual open and click through rates are fairly low.

Tip: Products like Mailchimp allow you to test your subject line/content for the likelihood of being caught by spam filters. Educate yourself on how to create mailings that will fly under the radar yet still be compelling.

3. Lack of Time

People are being bombarded all the time with email. Newsletters etc., can be considered ‘non-action’ items and placed in a folder to ‘read later’ or simply falls to the bottom of the inbox pile and never gets read.  Therefore, it’s even more important to have compelling subject lines for your mailings to help increase readership.

Tip: Get on a schedule and keep to it and don’t overwhelm your audience with too many mailings or content that is too lengthy. More than 500 words is too much. Get to the point and have a call to action. Remember, you are not the only one emailing them! Be respectful of their time.

4. Loss of Interest

People sign up for content all the time. However for a multitude of reasons, they many lose interest and just delete or ignore the email without unsubscribing. It’s only when you have a call to action like opting back in that you realize they weren’t as invested or engaged as you hoped.

Tip: If you haven’t mailed to your list in over 6 months, chances are you have lost their interest. If they are not signing up for your webinars, seminars, buying your products or services or forwarding your news on to their circles, they are likely not invested in you. It’s time to move on.

I tell my clients to focus their time and energies on those people who are willing to be part of your tribe. Instead of rueing over who hasn’t opted back in, focus your time and energy now on the ones who have and rebuild with a sharper focus.

Stay tuned for my next blog on tips to rebuilding your list. In the meantime, I welcome your feedback. You can reach me by phone or email, leave a comment right here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,


Virtually Yours, Joanne Burgess Relocating to Mt. Forest Ontario

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

It has been my lifetime wish to have more property and live closer to Mother Nature as I have always been a country girl at heart. Being in a subdivision for me is too confining – with the constant barrage of noise; cars, buses, dogs barking, helicopters (we’re on the flight path to Southlake Hospital for critical care) and we even hear the PA system from the local public school. While we back onto a green space behind our home and have a good mix of birds, rabbit, chimpmunk, squirrel, skunk, raccoon and even the occasional fox, they are still drowned out many days with all the other surrounding noise. So, my wish is finally coming to fruition. With the kids grown and mostly gone, my husband and I are relocating to Mt. Forest, Ontario where my husband will tackle retirement! Careful honey, the job jar is already growing.. ;-)

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Gravy Train is Over for Free Organic Reach on Facebook

Facebook adsAs a Social Media Specialist supporting small, local businesses, I am the first person to say that in the past I was not an advocate of running Facebook ads. I always counseled my clients to take advantage of the free organic reach.  After all, who needs to spend money when you don’t have to? Well folks that gravy train is pretty much over.

Most of you have probably noticed a marked decline in your organic reach on Facebook. Some stats show it’s down to 1%.  With Facebook now being a public company, they have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders and the way they are going to make money is by ensuring you have to run ads to get your content out there to your target market.

Some organizations have shown their displeasure by jumping ship. That’s great news for  everyone else – less clutter in the newsfeed means more time for you! And it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.

You will want to explore the different types of ads that you can run on Facebook. There are ads that can:

  • Boost posts and increase Likes, comments, shares, video plays, photo views
  • Encourage people to visit your website or take specific actions on your site
  • Help promote an event or promote offers
  • Get people to download an app you have created (for all you developers out there)

There are ads that can appear in the newsfeed, sidebar ads and mobile ads.  You can drive traffic to an app within Facebook or take them through your sales funnel by linking people to your opt-in pages. There are pay per click ads and pay per impression. My advice would be to go with the pay per click option.  The key is to know what you are trying to achieve, choosing the correct vehicle and then structuring the ad accordingly.

Please note that while Facebook has significantly relaxed its rules on things like contests, promotions and ad content, there are still regulations on these that you must adhere to or the ad will not be approved. You would be wise to click here to understand them before embarking on this journey.

As a small business owner, you might ask…How much do I have to invest?  There is no clear cut answer on this. You will have to try different strategies with your target market to find out what works best for you but you shouldn’t have to spend thousands to get results.  The key is not just to throw dollars at an ad campaign without exploration or getting some counsel as to what the options are and making sure you are able to track the results. You will also want to ensure that you have a timeline on the ad and that your budget has a defined limit. Start out small.

If you decide to tackle this on your own, make sure you download the power editor (available for use only with Chrome) for the functionality it provides. You will find the power editor option on the left side of the screen of your ads manager or by clicking here.

It’s time to experiment with ads. Need more help? Feel free to contact me. You can reach me by phone or email, leave a comment right here on the site, or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,


Canadian Anti-Spam Laws About to Get Much Tougher in 2014

Updated July 1, 2014
Canadian Anti Spam lawsAs most of you know, I expanded my services this year to include email marketing support so it would be remiss of me not to bring you up to speed on the changes that are happening to the anti-spam laws here in Canada this July 2014. These laws are about to get much tougher, carrying with them fines in the millions of dollars for those who violate them.

I know that there are many of you small business owners out there who currently have an email list/s that you currently market to. This list might be resident in places like Outlook or Gmail. Please know that you are currently in violation of the Canadian Anti-spam laws when you send out an email to this list/s as they do not conform to the laws. It is just that no one appears to be enforcing it – but that is about to change.

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2014 The Year of Change – 3 Ideas to Get You Started

Year of the HorseAs many of you know, 2014 in the Chinese calendar is the year of the Horse – the year of change!  What will you do differently in your business this year to meet your goals?  Here are 3 ideas to get you started.

1. Focus on Customer Service

I work with small, local business owners who often times struggle building their business. Do you feel that way too? As one prospect recently shared with me, “I had a great idea for a business, I just had no idea how it would consume me”. There are not enough hours in the day for the number of hats you need to wear as a business owner. So this year, make it a priority to focus on customer service. Love the heck out of your existing client base. That reinforces trust. People buy from people they know, like and trust. And those individuals/businesses will be the ones to send you referral business. Make sure that love is reflected in your website, your social media postings and blog and your marketing efforts in general too. Continue reading

Webinar & Newsletter (E-Blast) Support for Small Business Owners

e-blast and webinar supportHappy New Year everyone! I trust you all had a wonderful holiday season with friends and family and that you are ready to rock ‘n roll for a fabulous 2014.  This year will bring some exciting changes for my business too as I officially expand my offerings to include webinar and newsletter (e-blast) support for small business owners. I have had numerous inquiries about these services so it is a great time for me to stretch my  arms around this to offer an even more rounded marketing solution to all my client base. Continue reading

Turn Your Facebook Banner into a Facebook Ad

social media expert OntarioEvery now and then I come across a social media article that makes me go hmmmmm.  This one was worth sharing. In this case, Hugh Briss talks about changing your Facebook Banner  in such a way as to disguise it into an actual Facebook ad.  I would caution about doing this on a regular basis though as the social media channels are not about ‘buy my stuff’.  It’s ok to self promote some of the time (about 20%) but used judiciously, this idea can translate into an effective ad.

Whenever you change your Facebook banner, it shows up in your connections’ newsfeeds. That’s advertising, right? if you add a description/text along with the banner image change, that does not show up in the newsfeed.  Most people will just see the image and a few might click the ‘like’ button.  But, what if you had a call to action to go along with that banner? Where would you put it?

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3 Tips to Jazz up your Facebook Page for the Holiday Season

Facebook commerceIt’s approaching that time of year again.  Did you know people peruse sites like Facebook to look for great holiday gift ideas and special offers?  I posted this great infographic recently on my Facebook business page on people’s buying habits over the holidays.  Peer recommendations are a key influencer in the decision making process and Facebook leads the way in terms of where buyers get peer input. If you sell your products and services online, here are 3 tips to jazzing up your Facebook business page in preparation for the hoiidays. Continue reading

Facebook Relaxes Contest Rules for Business Pages

Facebook-Contests-for-Your-PageFacebook recently relaxed their rules for running contests and offers on Facebook business pages (or what they call their promotion policies).  Business owners can now comfortably run a contest on their own business page timeline without having to use external apps or pay for the Facebook  App function. Facebook even launched a YouTube video to announce the change.  Take a few moments to watch this video. For those of you receiving this blog via email, please click here to access the video. Continue reading

Do I Need to Blog? How Often Should I Publish a Blog Post?

importance of blogging2 of the most common questions I get asked by the small, local business owners I speak to are; ‘Do I really need to blog‘ and ‘How often should I publish a blog post’? The answers are YES and it depends.

A good blogging strategy can be key to your success. There are essentially two reasons that you need to be blogging:

1. Demonstrate your expertise and become the go-to person for your products and/or services

People nowadays turn to the internet looking for information, products or services.  It’s an extremely competitive world out there particularly in some industries. As a consumer, these are some of the questions I might be asking. Who can I trust? Which products and services are best? How do I know I am getting the best product or service for my money.  And so, your consumer is on the net in higher numbers than ever before looking through more websites than ever existed before (and growing all the time), looking for answers to those important questions. The beauty of a blog is that:

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