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.

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

Are you Seeing Results in Your Social Media Activities?

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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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3 Tips to Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profiles

bigstock-Social-Network-Of-African-Amer-15095669When I am at networking events, I often ask, ‘how many people have a LinkedIn profile?’  Usually this draws a good response from people in the room.  When I ask ‘how many people really know what to do with it?’, that’s when the hands start to come down.  And very few people put up their hands when asked if they have a LinkedIn company page.   Obviously people are not optimizing their efforts in LinkedIn.  Here are 3 tips to help you get a handle on its power to get you noticed.

1. LinkedIn Company Page

LinkedIn has transformed the company pages and it is now quite functional.  When adding your products or services, make sure you are taking full advantage of the ability to link that page back to your website, include YouTube videos where appropriate and external links to things like Amazon if you have a book or e-book that you are promoting.  As well, customize the page to include an image and in depth description and keywords to help promote the page.

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Are You Getting What You Paid for in Your Service Provider?

20672748_sA prospect came to see me recently. She shared that as a startup over a year ago, she had been told not to come and see me because she could never afford my services.  She allowed that individual to steer her to someone else. A year later and no further ahead, her back is against the wall.  I am writing this blog post not because I am bitter or angry. This isn’t about sour grapes. I have learned that the people who are meant to work with me will show up at the right time for them and for me. This is about helping you understand whether or not you are getting what you paid for in your service provider.

As a small business owner you have limited funds. I get that. I have been an entrepreneur since 1990 and I made my share of mistakes when I was starting out. I have learned over the years to not to waste time and money trying to cut corners. When I worked at IBM, we didn’t apologize for our prices. We didn’t slam the competition. We stayed professional, worked hard to garner respect and deliver great value. Customers deal with IBM because it is a stand up organization, the people are well trained and they have a great product.  It was a great learning ground. I have tried to carry these philosophies forward to my own business.

If you are a new or inexperienced business owner and are about to make a buying decision in the form of another person/company’s services that will have an impact on your own success, do yourself a favour and take the time to:

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10 Tips To Getting More People to Like Your Facebook Page

16604612_sDo you have a Facebook business page but very few ‘Likes’? It is important to know that people who are friends with you on your personal profile do not see what you put out on your business page unless they Like your page even though it might appear that the two profiles are tied together. As a social media specialist, I am often asked how someone can get more people to ‘Like’ their Page. And with Facebook reaching 1 billion active users today, there are many good reasons to be active on Facebook.  Here are my top ten in reverse order.

10. Length of Updates

There are stats to show that status updates  of less than 80 words get more notice and engagement on FB.  The reason for this is that people are ‘scanners’, so keep you updates short and to the point. This doesn’t mean you can’t go over 80 words when necessary – but this is a good guideline.  There are also indicators that more people ‘hang out’ on Facebook on Thursday afternoons and Fridays. Test your target market and see when you get your highest engagement.

Tip: Don’t forget to add your business page link on your personal profile. You’ll find that on the About tab of your personal profile.

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What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

8120705_sFor many of of you out there, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a mystery. For that matter, for many web developers, sadly, SEO is a still a mystery. I have found that in general, you will find web developers that are extremely creative and not so strong on the technical side (including SEO), or they are very technical and lack skills in the design department. The beauty of WordPress is that there are thousands of beautiful templates out there with plugins you can use for SEO as long as you know what to put in there!  The truth of the matter is though, that no matter how creative and beautiful your website may be, if it cannot be found by the search engines, it’s all for naught. So the challenge is finding someone who can do both.

Most business owners understand that in this day and age, you must have a website. Your prospects will look for you and check you out. But it’s not enough just to have a business card with your web address on it. How does the rest of the world find you? So, what is search engine optimization anyway?  Wikipedia’s definition of SEO is: the process of improving the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s “natural” or unpaid (organic) search result.  What the heck does that mean?

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Do Some Business Owners Still Consider Social Media Frivolous?

I had the opportunity to do a segment on the Gail Vaz Oxlade late night radio show last week.  Many of you will know her from her television programs on the Slice Network.  I brought with me, Karen Armstrong who is one of my clients. Gail was interested in speaking with a client who had had success with social media and discuss some of the strategies involved in making it work.  Of course, I was excited to have the opportunity (thank you Kim Stark for forwarding me Gail’s tweet!) to participate and to showcase Karen’s success story.  I was a little surprised at one of the questions Gail asked me though that pertained to ‘how I deal with business owners who consider social media to be ‘frivolous’ and turn it into a business building tool’. If you would like to listen to the interview with Gail, you will find it in the sidebar on the right side of the screen.

There are business owners that still think that social media is frivolous? I thought we were past that lol! Hopefully any of my clients out there who are reading this post, would agree that Social Media is certainly not frivolous and will chime in here with comments on their experiences.

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