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If you were like many people, your list was populated with email addresses that you had manually added, had stale/outdated information and it did not contain the necessary information to protect you if you were challenged.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,


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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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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