Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) comes into force on July 1, 2014. Once the law is enacted, organizations will face heavy consequences for sending commercial electronic messages (CEM) without express consent. Our lax neighbours to the south define consent more loosely, allowing organizations to email recipients so long as they have not opted-out. In Canada’s case, the law prohibits email marketers from contacting recipients who have not given explicit consent via verbal or written opt-in. Unfortunately, emails requesting consent also count as CEM, which puts email marketers on a tight deadline to send out consent campaigns before this new definition of CEM becomes law.
While devising a campaign to encourage our email newsletter recipients to confirm their consent to receive a monthly newsletter, I struggled to determine whether transparency would encourage action and, if so, what kind of action it would spur. Would recipients of this request for consent appreciate the honesty and re-confirm by opting in, or would the daunting “ANTI-SPAM LAW COMPLIANCE” headline remind them that they’ve been meaning to unsubscribe for months?
It felt like I had two choices: a cut and dry message that affirms CASL compliance, or a slick marketing message that just happens to require recipient email verification. I decided to split the difference: wrapping our request for consent into a reminder that recipients can customize their email preferences and should do so to help keep us from spamming them. This essentially answers the question often asked by recipients of marketing messages: “what’s in it for me?” In offering customers another way to receive our newsletter, on their terms, it also allows us to lower our unsubscribe rate by providing recipients the option of editing their Mailchimp profiles to reflect their email frequency and content type preferences.
Michael Geist insists on bluntly asking for consent and I’m inclined to agree with him. Even in marketing, transparency is the best approach. Most newsletter recipients are media literate and likely receive dozens of promotional emails a day. They see through the fluff! Still, straight-forward campaigns don’t have to be dull. We’re still content marketers, whose mandate is giving readers useful information while answering that inevitable question, “what’s in it for me?” So don’t hesitate to include a special offer or a reminder of your organization’s Unique Selling Proposition in your CASL compliance campaign!