Don't fear the CASL (Well, fear it a little.)A look at the danger and the opportunity in coming CASL regulations. May 18, 2017
Instead of putting the disclaimer at the end, I’m going to lead with it and let you know right off the bat that the following is not intended, nor should it be taken, as legal advice. I am not a lawyer. I am a b2b marketer. We are a b2b marketing shop. We love everything marketing.
Especially marketing automation.
Email marketing enlivened our agency six years ago when it first came on the scene. We became not only more digital, but more strategic. When we considered a new email marketing platform and the value of marketing for our clients, we knew the time was right for change.
Naturally, when new laws are enacted, it’s also a time to change. In the case of CASL, however, there wasn’t much we needed to do other than keep doing what we were doing. Because at the heart of CASL is something as an agency we already convincingly believed in: marketing best practices.
When CASL first came into effect on July 1, 2014, MOTUM B2B was already following email marketing best practices and, of course, the law. When CASL drew a line in the sand and the first July date went by, the attrition rate for companies’ email lists was horrible.
Some brands abided by their lawyers and took a more conservative approach by sending out one email to request express consent and if that didn’t work, they were to put them on a suppression list. Better to be safe than sorry. But for other brands, the ones we get excited about, they saw what we saw: an opportunity for a more engaged audience through better, smarter outbound marketing efforts.
The only thing we have to fear is bad marketing
With the Private Right of Action July 1, 2017 date looming, we are faced once again with the same potential outcome: severe audience attrition. However, this time around, there’s something additional to be worried about. While before an end user could only raise a CASL complaint with the CRTC for handling, that same end user can now go directly to court to sue. And just like before, we are faced with the same corrective measure: follow marketing best practices and you have nothing to fear.
With the latest July 1 deadline, implied consent will now expire after two years. But if you are regularly marketing to your audience with relevant content that they want and react to, why would you need to focus on an expiration date? The point of email marketing is to engage your audience, nurture your audience, show them what’s in it for them. Keep your focus on marketing — good, smart marketing — and the law will be on your side.
If your message is ‘We need your consent to keep emailing you,’ are you letting your audience know what’s in it for them? Have you been reaching out to your audience on a regular basis, or is this consent email coming out of nowhere? Is it the first time your audience has heard from you in months?
If you are using marketing automation platforms, like Pardot or Act-On, then you are already in good shape. Most marketing automation vendors with good reputations take great care in keeping their platforms away from spammers or those who choose not to follow marketing best practices — bad list sellers or renters, unqualified leads generators — those who think the best marketing approach is spray and pray. We’ve seen our vendors set thresholds and alerts when they think we may be trying to pull a fast one with email marketing. As a marketer, this is reassuring.
Get to know your audience a little better
But the real power in marketing automation is the competitive advantage you gain in your marketing efforts. Automation is powerful when you combine it with a strategy. With the impending CASL cut-off date, it’s better to start talking to your audience now to let them know not only that a consent date is fast approaching, and show them that there’s all this great content they’ll be missing, too. Set some automation rules around it so that you can segment your audience, and see what’s working and what isn’t.
Here’s a visual example of what we have been recommending for certain clients:
Now before July 1, don’t just send one email, send several. They don’t have to be long emails. Make them short. Make one a video. Make it personal. But send them to a place where they can let you know what they are getting if they consent, with options for what else they may be interested in. Their consent is worth only as much as your message. If you don’t get consent, then what does that say about your message.
But best of luck with your CASL efforts. Your engaged audience awaits.