As 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.
Come July, any and every solicitation type communication that you send to prospects or networking connections (not current customers, family, etc. where there is an existing relationship) needs to be in a format whereby people:
- Have had the opportunity to opt-in on their own accord
- Be able to easily get your contact information in every release and,
- Opt-out of receiving your content in every email.
Are there exceptions? Yes. But you will need to familiarize yourself with what they are. They pertain to charities, ‘implied consent’*, etc.
So, what can you do to get ready? If your list is currently in Microsoft Outlook for example, you will want to migrate** this list to a vehicle like Mailchimp or Constant Contact to comply with the anti-spam laws. Then my recommendation would be that you send out a newsletter to this list using one of these products to let people know that you have migrated them over and allow them to opt-out of receiving future communication from you if they so wish. You will want to do this before July!
Any new names that you want to add to your distribution list need to be acquired in the form of a double opt-in process whereby people can sign up to receive your content (this can be in the form of a signup box on your website). Once they sign up, they will receive an email to verify that they in fact want to receive content from you. When they click the verification link, they have successfully opted-in. As mentioned above, every email needs to include your contact information and an opt-out option. Using a product like Mailchimp or Constant Contact has these features built into the product. Mailchimp is free for lists up to 2000 subscribers at which point you must pay a monthly fee which is determined based on the size of the list. Constant Contact is a fee based program. Mailchimp works very well and is cost effective for small business owners.
Please do not wait until the last minute to get all of this in order.
Now is also a good time to remind everyone using social media tools to market their business, to please be cognizant of the unspoken code of conduct and etiquette on these sites and do not SPAM your audience. Also please note that when using the event function on Facebook, exporting the data off Facebook to invite attendees via traditional email methods DOES NOT CONFORM to the new anti-spam laws as Facebook does not contain the necessary opt-in/opt-out functionality.
Need help? I’d love to connect with you. 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,
* implied consent may be a business card that someone gives you however that only allows you a 2 year window to communicate with them. Therefore, I would still get them to opt in properly. I would recommend you ask them if you can add them to your list. Tell them you will begin the process for them by doing the initial signup using the signup box on your website. By entering their email address, the system will then send them a verification email which they can click on to complete the process and then you are covered.
**you can export your contacts from say, Outlook to an .csv file that can be imported into a product like Mailchimp.