Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your customers… but only if your list is clean. It’s not only ethical and considerate to ensure your email subscribers actually opted in, it’s now required by law in Canada (as of July, 2014).
So, what are the best practices for ensuring your list is clean and your subscribers consented to receive your newsletter?
Don’t buy email lists.
I shouldn’t think any legit business purchases email lists anymore, but we still get enough spam offering list services that someone out there must still be doing it. These email addresses were likely scraped off websites and won’t benefit you in any case.
Use proper mailing list software or a web service.
Don’t stick all your customers in an Excel document and BCC them every time you want to send out a newsletter! (I see this more often than you’d think.) Use Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, Mailchimp, iContact, or another legitimate mailing list service instead. Not only will unsubscribes be automatically handled to keep your list compliant, it will also manage the actual email sending. This ensures your newsletter won’t get blocked by your email provider, web host, or ISP. You can even schedule your sendouts in advance.
Include the necessary footer information: contact info, and an unsubscribe link.
You’re required by law to provide an unsubscribe mechanism on each email sendout. By using a mailing list service such as Mailchimp, this will be handled for you automatically. You should also include your contact information: address, phone number, website URL. (Own a home business? You can use a PO Box for your address.)
Running a contest to gain subscribers? Make sure they know they’re signing up!
Opting in isn’t just for online entry forms. This includes fishbowl business card drops and ballot forms too. Don’t hide consent in your fine print terms and conditions! Let contest participants know they’ll be signing up for your newsletter. Better yet, offer them additional contest entries if they subscribe.
Remind folks where they signed up in the first place.
Add a single sentence at the bottom of the email reminding them where they subscribed. For example, “You’re receiving this because you opted in at websitename.com or entered a contest sponsored by Business Name.” They’ll be less likely to flag your message as spam if they remember why they subscribed.
The Canadian government has put together a website detailing CASL and how to be compliant. If you’re using an email list to market to Canadians, it’s a must-read to ensure you’re following best practices.