Email Opt-In Best Practices for 2016:
While many inbound marketers try to say Email Marketing is dead, this is by no means the case. Email is alive, thriving and becoming more powerful each year. According to The Radicati Group, the number of email accounts worldwide will have increased from 3.6 billion in 2013 to approximately 4.3 billion this year. But, while email is still a hugely important component of a successful marketing strategy, the laws around it, and the repercussions of breaking them are becoming ever more serious around the world. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly important to develop, and follow, strong email opt-in best practices.
Take, for example, Canada’s CASL. The Canadian Anti-Spam Law is a law the Canadian government spent several years refining to its present state, and it went into effect on July 1st, 2014. While there is a transition period until July 1st, 2017, that doesn’t mean your company is safe from investigation and you can still be fined for malpractice. The CASL law is simple. Basically, you can only send “commercial electronic messages,” to (or from) a device in Canada if you have obtained consent to do so. Don’t have the appropriate consent? Prepare to be fined if you don’t follow the rules, and guess what? That fine can be anywhere from $1M to $10M per violation.
Not surprisingly, consumers are much more excited about this law than marketers. Additionally, countries across the globe, including the US, are looking to beef-up their existing laws to more closely imitate CASL. So what does this mean for you? It means it’s time to buckle down and start preparing.
An easy way to start is to add a simple email opt-in checkbox to your forms giving people the opportunity to decide whether or not they want your marketing materials. This is called “explicit consent” and is the safest method to guarantee and prove you have the right to market to consumers. It is also housed directly in your database, so you have a very simple management method to prove you’ve received consent. As a general note, according to CASL, this box cannot be pre-checked, so it would be safest to leave it unchecked for all countries.
Next, audit your database for any contacts that you purchased in a “list buy.” A “list buy” is any list you purchased from a 3rd party. These contacts haven’t opted-in to your communications and, while you may be providing them with valuable information and opportunities, technically you’re spamming them. Moving forward, unless you have received consent from them, don’t email these consumers. Instead, stick to methods such as retargeting, PPC, and sales calls.
Finally, review your database to ensure you have a high completion rate for the country field. By adding it to your standard forms or using it in progressive profiling, you can help clean up your database and improve the data you have. You can also request your sales team to start filling it out when they reach out to prospects. Just remember, you will need to be able to filter your contacts based on this value, so a standard set of values is recommended and can be achieved by using a drop-down menu instead of a free text field. Bonus, you’ll have the ability to create much more targeted and direct campaigns, making your communications exponentially more effective.
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