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

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.

For more detailed information on the new Canadian anti-spam laws, please click here.  Here is a link to their FAQ page as well.

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,

Joanne

* 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.

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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Are you Seeing Results in Your Social Media Activities?

click image to enlarge

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You are a small business owner increasing the time you are spending in social media activities but are you seeing results?  I think most of you probably are but based on the results in the image to the left, it might appear not. Perhaps people are not using the right measurements or the people who designed this survey were not asking the right questions. Let’s revisit the role that social media plays in the sales funnel.

There are 5 stages to the sell cycle; awareness, knowledge, liking, preference and buy. It would be impossible to walk all buyers through this cycle in one social media marketing campaign. It takes a well thought out strategy and consistent execution in many marketing activities to address all stages effectively and to a positive result. The thing most people misunderstand is that Social Media is not intended to make people hit the ‘buy’ button. It is certainly part of the process but it is intended to help buyers get to know who they are buying from and trust the product/service they are buying. In essence, it helps you address the first three stages of the cycle and smooth the way to stage 4.

Ultimately, people will buy from people they know, like and trust. And Nielsen survey results show that people are more likely to make a purchase from a business that comes as a referral from a trusted circle of friends, family and key influencers (P. 19) which shouldn’t come as a surprise.  The question is, where are people getting this information from? For most, the answer comes from personal interactions, online searches (Google, blogs, social bookmark sites, etc.), and conversations in spaces like Facebook and other forums. So, while it might not appear that social media is not giving you ROI, it is very likely contributing to the overall buying decision. The problem is most business owners don’t ask their buyers how they found them and what criteria they used before making their decision.

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5 Tips For Staying Safe on the Internet

bigstock-Computer-Internet-Cable-And-Lo-36923458Today we had a detective from the local crime unit speak at our local Chamber of Commerce breakfast about identity theft and credit card theft/fraud. The amount of online fraud is staggering and sadly increasing at an alarming rate. He shared the latest and elaborate ways that criminals can access your information either from your credit card or online.  It got me to thinking about other ways that you can stay safe. As a Social Media specialist who spends a great deal of time online, I thought I would share with you 5 tips. Continue reading

Should You Pay For Online Directories Like Yellow Pages?

3627514_sOne of my clients contacted me recently asking for my opinion on renewing the online Yellow Pages listing for their business.  It appears the company is aggressively contacting clients trying to sell them on the benefits of having an online listing.  They normally try to sell you on the benefits of click-throughs to your website as well as a higher Google ranking. And in theory, this is correct. The more quality presence you have on the web, the more Google will give you credit and raise you in the search engines. The question is, should you be paying for it?  The answer is, it depends… Continue reading