Pop-ups, pop-unders, waiting a few seconds to watch an ad before you can play that video, articles with advertisements mid-stream and email marketing are all interruptive advertising strategies. And, much like that phone call at dinner time, less than welcomed by your prospects.
E-marketing in particular has been the recent target of CASL (Canada’s anti-spam legislation).
Although this is a topic I’ve written on in the past, and even discussed on CTVNews at 6:00, I’d like to revisit it again, simply because there are so many misconceptions out there. Contrary to what a lot of people would have you believe, CASL really isn’t all that restrictive… at least not if you’re using email following some common sense emarketing best practices.
If we were being honest with one another, we’d have to admit that a lot of what marketers have traditionally sent under the guise of "lead nurturing" basically amounts to unsolicited offers. It might not have been spam in the sense that the messages were about generic medications or overseas casinos, but they weren't really passing the smell test when it came to “requested information”, either.
Because we never really marketed ourselves in this way, complying with a few new rules and regulations hasn't been a huge challenge for us. In fact, we kinda like that governments are taking stronger action to bring some of our less scrupulous peers to task. The fewer nasty marketers (in theory) there are around, the more good business there is for the rest of us – and the less the public has to worry about.
I bet you are wondering, if we don't send volume messages to our clients all that often, just how do we manage email marketing?
To that end, here is a brief overview of how we handle emarketing at Kayak:
At the top of our marketing funnel, we remove barriers to a downloads for new prospects, where we can either let them right-click to download an item, or send it to them via email (a process that is perfectly CASL compliant, and about as correct as they see it). The email will not be placed into any lead nurturing automation.
We don't worry about scheduling subsequent emails (which wouldn't be allowed under the new laws, anyway – because when responding to an offer, they ask only for that one item). Although a lot of marketers will cry foul at this point, the reality is that the right prospects are going to come back anyway when your content or offers are strong enough. Pestering them isn't going to do anything to enhance the relationship, even if traditionally it may have prompted a few extra downloads.
One thing we will do, along with the original offer, is include a prompt or link to the next offer that lies on a thank-you or landing page. Again, everything is completely spelled out so prospects know where they're going and why. This ties into the last point – if people like your content and ideas, they'll be happy to return.
With each subsequent download or interaction, prospects become more familiar with us and move themselves further along our sales funnel. In the middle of the funnel, we can present offers as a reward for subscribing to important marketing updates, which amounts to a CASL-compliant opt-in from a legit marketing qualified lead (MQL).
At the bottom of the funnel, a contact request or a phone call becomes the final official opt-in, otherwise known as a bonafide new business lead. Not only is this compliant with new laws, but it places all of the onus on the prospect. If he or she wants to take the next step, the prospect will contact us; if not, we don't try to give a hard sell. Thus, no interruption, all attraction.
As a side note to all of this, I want to point out that a forced checkbox – the CASL solution recommended by more than a few Internet marketing and law firms – might technically be compliant – is incredibly rude. Beyond that, anything that requires subscribers to click multiple times to get away from you has to be considered bad form, and something that's going to drive response rates down throughout your campaigns.
As any current reader or client will already know, interruptive marketing techniques have never been our thing. For that reason, building a huge mailing list has never been a priority for us, and won't ever be in the future (blog subscribers being the exception).
Even if you disagree or follow a different philosophy, you should be less concerned about the technicalities of the new Canadian anti-spam laws and more focused on what lawmakers and buyers alike are trying to tell you: They don't want unsolicited messages, and you won't score any points by sending offers they haven't requested.
A reminder that this is not legal advice in any way, but rather a sharing of our approach. Check with your legal firm if you suspect you may not be in compliance with the laws.