As you may recall, Canada passed its anti-spam law in December of 2010. As we approach the second anniversary of this action, the Governor in Council order required to put the law into effect has yet to occur.
Current speculation is that the law will begin enforcement in 2013. The lengthy delay has lead to C.A.S.L. falling off the radar of many marketers. I’ve been following this topic since it first arose and reviewed the key points of the law which will impact email marketing both inside and outside of Canada.
As a quick reminder, C.A.S.L. covers far more than email, has a higher standard of compliance for email marketing and penalties far beyond the US CAN-SPAM Act. The law covers all commercial electronic messages and requires 100% consent to send email, SMS/MMS, and social media communications. Three government agencies will be enforcing various aspects of the law including the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
And beyond that, the law empowers individuals and organizations to bring a private right of action in court against those perceived to violate the law. The penalties across the board for violations are hefty. I strongly urge marketers to review the Canadian government’s portal on C.A.S.L., get the facts, confer with legal counsel and be prepared.
Like many of you who read this blog, I’ve received plenty of unsolicited marketing emails from vendors promoting “qualified sales leads” that are available for purchase. Typically, my reply sounds like this one from the other day:
“No thanks – we’re an email service provider that preaches the benefits of opt-in email marketing. Looks to me like you’re giving people a way to send unsolicited Spam.”
Ultimately, I will mark such unsolicited messages as Spam, and therein lies the point. Sending unsolicited messages is a surefire way to receive Spam complaints, because by definition that’s exactly what you’re sending. I remember talking to a prospect who once said “…but once they realize how valuable the content is, they’ll be glad we sent it…” which sounds like it could be a soundbite from the old Saturday Night Live “Bad Idea Jeans” sketch:
Assuming that recipients will see the same value in your content that you do—especially those who don’t have an existing relationship with your brand—is a bad idea. Your reputation as an email sender is not unlike your reputation as a person. Sending to a list of purchased email addresses is a bit like being “that guy” at the office Christmas party — even if it’s an isolated incident, such a misstep can inflict long-lasting damage on your reputation.
If you take pride in your email marketing, you wouldn’t think your messages would contain elements found in some of the most Spam-tastic emails out there, right? Well, you might be surprised. To illustrate, I’ll be using a collection of the SPAM-iest emails I’ve received lately. If these characteristics sound familiar, it’d be a good idea to make some changes to your messages—the less you have in common with these bottom-feeders the better.
What’s the problem: (click to enlarge the sample message The absence of a “To” address or any type of personalization leads me to believe that I did not actually win $2.5M dollars from Asia Power Ball Online Lottery Promo. This is also commonly found in emails sent by organizations who do all of their email marketing in-house, and often enter an entire mailing list of addresses entered into the “Bcc” field. The risk of accidentally using the “Cc” field instead of “Bcc” field is one possibly embarrassing reason to avoid this practice. Another is that seeing a blank “To” field can make recipients immediately suspicious as to the validity of your message, regardless of how legitimate you may think it is.
Jordan Ayan coined a phrase the other day called “RAM” which made reference to Retail SPAM. I have another one to add to the list. “YAM”, standing for Yard SPAM. (Seems fitting for the holidays)
Yesterday in the Chicago area we experienced a fairly significant snowfall of around 7 inches. After a grueling commute I had the pleasure of clearing the driveway. Having purchased a snow blower last season the task did not seem too daunting. One pass down, one pass up then suddenly “BAM”, or should I say “YAM”, the snow blower locked up. Upon review I discovered I sucked up a newspaper! This was a free publication that I did not request and have never read in all the years I have lived here. This particular piece of “YAM” lodged itself squarely in the snow blower’s impeller and locked it in place.
After a utility knife, chisel, hacksaw blade, pliers, WD40, a propane torch, multiple jokes from my neighbors and 2.5 hours of additional character building (remember the commute) I was finally able to free the “YAM”.
Being an internet marketing professional I could not help but reflect on the fact that we are so careful to ask for permission before sending an email. Yet in the real world advertisers have little problem littering my front yard with anything they feel like throwing out of a moving car. Where is the opt-out or unsubscribe for that?
It made me think just how easy it would have been to simply click delete had this been SPAM and not “YAM”.