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Targeting & Acquisition

CASL’s impact on email marketers:

acquisition, permission and more By Matthew Vernhout


hen Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) comes into force on July 1, 2014 will you be ready? If your organization sends emails, texts or any other commercial electronic messages (CEMs), CASL will impact you. With still a few months until implementation it’s important that you use this interim time wisely to review your email programs and create a plan that will have you in good standing come July 1st. I’ve been working with the CRTC and other organizations on this legislation since it was first conceived and since then I have attended conferences and seminars all over North America talking to marketers about CASL, privacy and deliverability in email. The main thing most marketers want to know is what the impact of CASL will be on their messaging programs and how email acquisition, list growth, permissions, etc. should be handled in the future. Now that we have been able to properly review the final regulations here is a brief summary.

Acquisition Tactics – Welcome Programs, Email Appends & F2F Many top marketers will have already created Email Welcome Programs, but if you’re one that has not yet gotten around to doing so, implementing one will be crucial under CASL. In general, good welcome programs have been lacking in the industry which, is unfortunate because they are easy to implement and help to facilitate and reinforce the prescribed information in your email programs. Key to any good Welcome Program is to: ❯❯ Welcome your new subscribers (The sooner the better). ❯❯ Outline the benefits of your email program. ❯❯ Set expectations on the types and frequency of messaging you will be sending. ❯❯ Encourage your subscribers to add your email address to their address book for improved deliverability. ❯❯ Reinforce the prescribed information, set out under CASL, ❱

to consumers at the time of sign up. (This is especially important for POS or call center subscriptions) A welcome program also gives email marketers a means to contact your subscribers early on in the relationship which, according to much research tends to increase engagement over a subscribers lifetime. Forward to a Friend buttons are as old email itself; but under CASL they are likely to disappear. With CASL’s focus so much around obtaining proper consent, marketers will likely find themselves not in compliance if they are to send any electronic message to someone who has not directly opted-in, such as happens in a Forward to a Friend email. Social Sharing will take centre stage, if it has not already. Lastly, Email appending is the practice of matching known customer data (first name, last name, and postal address) against a vendor’s database to obtain email addresses. As consent has not been provided by individuals in these cases and sending an email to ask for consent is considered a CEM under the law, email appends and email purchasing will be deemed unlawful under the new legislation. These practices have always been a matter of concern for many email marketers and email service providers and will finally come under rule with CASL. List Growth List Growth is where CASL may have its greatest impact. While many marketers have come to expect their email lists to grow at a healthy rate each year, under CASL, marketers will likely see growth decline. With CASL marketers are going to need to be more tactful with their list growth practices to maintain this rate and even so their lists will likely grow at a slower rate. The main reason for this is that CASL requires express consent. This means no pre-checked boxes. Stats show that the majority of people will not uncheck a box that is pre-checked. As a result, many email marketers grow their lists simply due to this fact of human nature. However, under

CASL, pre-checked boxes will be ruled-out and due to the same fact of human nature, the majority of people will not check a box that has not been pre-checked, and lists will grow at a slower rate. Under CASL marketers will also face an “expiry of consent”. In a pre-CASL world, marketers could keep subscribers on their list for all eternity (or at least until the email address bounced out), whereas, come July 1st this will not be the case. According to CASL regulations, once you have implied consent for a contact, you have two years to mail an individual or to gain express consent. For organizations with short purchase cycles (i.e. Grocers, Financial Institutions, Retailers) this won’t likely pose a challenge. However, for those businesses with long purchase cycles (i.e. appliances, automotive, furniture) this will likely have an impact and force marketers to rethink their strategies. This is not all bad news as it will encourage marketers to implement new lifecycle programs that target and engage customers in between major purchases and lead to increased lifetime revenues. The key for marketer will be to build a better sales funnel and to be more aggressive in their list growth strategies in order to both attract and retain subscribers. Unsubscribe Processes CASL is going to encourage marketers to move their implied consents to express in order to retain more customers. Preference centres will likely prove to be a popular approach, providing customers with greater control over their subscriptions. With a preference centre, subscribers can also be presented with options to “Opt-down” rather than “Opt-out” completely (this is still a required option though). This means that if you typically send a “daily” you would provide a choice to your subscribers to instead receive a “weekly” or “monthly” or receive emails only on specific topics of their choosing. Providing granular control typically leads to reduced list fatigue and churn.

Due to the “expiry of consent” for implied subscriptions Re-engagement Programs will be given a higher priority under CASL. Because there is a two-year window marketers will be encouraged to try and reengage subscribers before they are lost for good. Four steps to a successful re-engagement program are: 1. Give subscribers a reason to re-engage with your brand. Consider providing an incentive. 2. Think about your content and the subscriber experience. Your email design should make it easy for subscribers to act on your call to action to upgrade to express consent or complete another action that will satisfy the implied consent requirements of CASL. 3. Test, Test, Test! Whether it’s the subject line, copy, layout or offer, ensure it is well tested so that you know what is the most effective for your audience. 4. Review your results and make the necessary changes. Conclusion Digital Marketers should not expect to see their email metrics decline after July 1st when CASL comes into effect, but they do need to ensure that they’re properly prepared for its implementation. In the coming months it would be advised that marketers review their messaging strategy including list hygiene processes, pre-deployment rituals and deployment processes to ensure that all requirements are met under CASL. Matthew Vernhout is a digital messaging

industry veteran and Certified International Privacy Professional with more than 10 years of experience in email marketing. Through his years of practical experience in both privacy and network operations, he is an astute problem solver with both strategic and technical experience. At Inbox Marketer, Matt is responsible for the privacy and deliverability team working to ensure our clients achieve industry leading deliverability. He also ensures that clients are compliant with all regulations including CAN-SPAM, PIPEDA and Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).

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