Email Best Practices. Why CASL exists...

Let's pretend for a moment that email marketing is just beginning. 

It has just come into existence as a result of the world wide web. It is the late 90's and businesses are beginning to realize that other businesses and maybe even consumers have their own email addresses and we can reach out to them with relatively little costs involved. (Nirvana to a marketer!)

To a mass marketer who has been used to paying through the nose to buy media of any type, this sounded too good to be true.

Remember, up until this point, the only option we had as marketers was mass marketing and direct mail. None of these media "talked back" fairly immediately. They all required a decent investment.

And we could dump our brand messages, good and bad, knowing it would reach enough people to create the sales we so dearly desired. “It’s a numbers game” we said. “throw enough S*&T against the wall something sticks”. That’s the way advertising and promotion always worked. 

More is better. More often is ideal.

So remember, we were introduced to digital marketing (the first expression was email marketing) at a point when all we knew was “more is better” and advertising principles stated that “repetition sold” - the more the better. Most marketers just collected massive numbers of email addresses and blasted at will. After all, that’s how promotion worked, right? Well at least that's how mass media marketing worked.

But a handful of patient, thoughtful marketers said, “wait a minute, this is not your typical advertising or promotional medium. This one talks back. There is a real person at the other end of this and they know who we are.”

Now let take it up a few notches. We are smart marketers and we understand human nature. As a result, we think this through and decide that our client-centric, email marketing program must include:
1. Sending messages people want. Relevance to them is the key. 
2. Send messages when the recipient signal they want them or may be interested in them.
3. Allow our valued customers to unsubscribe every time we contact them.
4. Make it very simple to unsubscribe. We know if our customer or prospect tells us that they no longer wish to receive messages - for any reason - we should respect that wish and make it very simple for them to unsubscribe. In every single message we send.
5. Be very clear who we are - proudly stating our name and address.
6. Make and keep our promise about information we said we would send when we sought their permission to do so.
7. Always asking for permission before we added them to our list. Not assuming permission because we were able to entice them into giving us their email address for some reason they valued at the time.
8. Checking every 2 years to be sure nothing in their world has changed.
9. Respect their privacy by never lending our list to others. If we had to send a message for a partner, we would do so and make it clear to the recipient who the message was for.
10. Carefully considering what and how many messages we send. Not pounding them with everything we can think to send them. (one of our staff members recently found herself subscribing to Old Navy only to be subjected to 3 or more messages a day - every day! Who is thinking this program through?)

Believe it or not there are organizations that need to make very little change to their email programs as a result of CASL.

The main issue as we see has been the record keeping required to prove consent. Most legacy systems cannot bend that far without breaking, as that is not what they were designed to do. So using the new CRM/Marketing Automation/Email Service Provider technology is critical under CASL.

Now let’s fast forward to 2010 when Canada passed a law protecting consumers from the onslaught of massive amounts of emails they were experiencing - many of them from the very brands they respect.

Fact is: we are marketers. We cannot help ourselves.

That’s what we do. If you dangle a relatively free media in front of our nose, what do you expect? We are going to gather as many names and blast as many messages as we can. 

Except the select few marketers who truly puts their customer first. 

Think about it. The Canadian government reached a point within the first 5 or 6 years of email marketing even existing, where they believed they had to step in and “protect” the Canadian citizens from us marketers.

Industry Canada started crafting CASL in 2004. Emailing marketing had only started in the late 90’s. Within the first 5 or 6 years of email marketing, Industry Canada clearly identified that most marketers cannot help themselves. They completely took over the individual’s email box for their potential gain, without consideration that there was a human being at the other end.

CASL exists in order to allow Canadians to own their own inbox.

As a result, CASL asks you to:

1. PROVE you have consent to email each individual on your list
2. Allow individuals to unsubscribe in every email you send
3. Ensure your unsubscribe mechanism works - simply and quickly
4. Identify yourself and partners clearly in every email
5. Send only relevant messages
6. Identify yourself clearly at all stages - opt-in through sending
7. Give individuals two ways to reach out and contact someone

When did we forget to put the customer first? Did our excitement over a free medium make us a little crazy? Could it be this simple? 

CASL = Electronic Messaging Best Practices

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