The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (or CASL for short) and their specific rules have been talked about a lot over the past few years, and many still have questions. How will CASL affect your public company, as well as your email lists? Are you staying compliant? This week’s blog breaks down the basics. For specific step-by-step directions, get a copy of our free Complete CASL Guide: how to keep compliant and grow your subscriber list.
What are the Canadian Anti-Spam Laws?
CASL is a set of laws that were passed in 2010 and went into effect in July of 2014. These laws are focused around keeping commercial messaging more truthful and less spammy. Three main government agencies are responsible for the enforcement of the laws, including the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), who will fine anyone who violates the new CASL laws. (yikes!)
What is CASL affecting?
CASL is aimed at regulating the way electronic commercial communication happens. That means sending emails, social networking messages, even text messages with a business purpose to clients, customers, or prospectives. We’re going to stick with the email laws, since that has the biggest affect on public companies. In terms of email, CASL dictates:
The specific elements to include in each email sent for business purposes.
Who you can and cannot continue to email based on whether or not they have given you express consent.
If you’re a public company reading this blog, CASL will affect you! But let’s break it down. The CASL ‘Fast Facts’ site provides an easy three question survey on the matter of compliance. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these three questions, then yes, CASL applies to you.
Are you using email, SMS, social media or instant messaging to send commercial or promotional information about your organization to customers, prospects and other important audiences?
Do you install software programs on people’s computers or mobile devices?
Do you carry out these activities in or from Canada?
Don’t worry, you have some time!
The regulatory agencies for CASL have set a three year grace period for all businesses to refine their email lists and get their subscribers compliant. So learn the steps and send ‘good with the law’ emails!
Take some tips from the masters. There’s a reason we’ve all heard of these names, and although size, budget, and success may all be different between factors between these brand curators and your company’s brand, there’s still valuable lessons they can teach you about standing out. Take a look at these six lessons from companies who’ve mastered everything from email newsletter copy to reviving 90’s hip hop.
Lesson #1: Know your legacy and let it influence you
The expert: Sprite
Sprite’s been doing a bit of marketing speed-dating lately; they just switched creative agencies for the fourth time in three years. Flashback to 1994 when they launched the now iconic ‘Obey Your Thirst’ slogan with a campaign featuring underground hip-hop up stars and freestylers like Nas, AZ, and Grand Puba.
Over 20 years later, Sprite is returning to the ‘Obey your Thirst’ campaign and to their hip-hop roots. Sprite partnered with The Fader magazine to create a video series aptly titled ‘Obey your Verse’ featuring big names like Drake and Nas, alongside shining up-and-comers Vince Staples and Isaiah Rashad. The Fader president Andy Cohn spoke to Contently about the campaign, saying “I think Sprite had a really good handle on how they wanted to relaunch ‘Obey Your Thirst’ because I think they realized they had a legacy they could trade on“. The new twist on the famous 90’s campaign has been very successful; the series has totalled more than 1 million video views so far. Cohn also spoke of how the legacy of ‘Obey Your Thirst’ with famous rappers was so easy to rejuvenate because “ever artist we talked to…knew about Sprite and ‘Obey Your Thirst’ from 20 years ago'”.
Lesson #2: Speak to your audience like human beings
The expert: Mailchimp
If you look up Mailchimp’s public Style Guide, you’ll get pages and pages of content explicitly explaining a Mailchimp employee’s responsibility to help customers in a friendly and informative way. They’ve even created a whole website called Voice and Tone full of potential conversations between a user and Mailchimp, and appropriate way to respond. What you’re seeing is Mailchimp nailing the importance of frank and personable communication. Isn’t it refreshing when a company’s support line speaks to you like, well, the real human being that they are?
Lesson #3: Understand your core message
The expert: Dove
Growing from a brand who sold soap to a well-known advocator for all women’s beauty is quite a feat. Dove’s “Campaign for Real-Beauty” evolved in 2004 and still runs strong in their ads today. In the past few years, they’ve also become experts at making viral videos. The brilliance of these videos comes with the underlying core message in each of them: a move to inspire self esteem in women and encouraging all girls to reach their full potential. Whether their ads focus on Real-Beauty sketches, choosing whether to walk through a door that says ‘Beautiful’ or ‘Average’, or teaching young girls to embrace their curly hair, each of Dove’s ads trace back to their social mission statement of creating “a world where beauty is a source of confidence, and not anxiety”. Other brands have begun to follow Dove’s lead, such as the Always #LikeAGirl campaign and CoverGirl’s #GirlsCan empowerment ads.
Lesson #4: Don’t be afraid to take risks
The expert: GoDaddy
2015 marked GoDaddy’s 11th ad appearance in the Super Bowl. Over the last decade, GoDaddy’s Super Bowl commercials have been some of the most controversial and some of the weirdest ones out there, but definitely also the most talked about. Their bold marketing moves and insistence on being surprising year after year has cemented them as one of the country’s most recognizable brands. And what’s their thing? Providing website domains. It’s not the spiciest industry out there, but it’s a safe bet that anyone you ask has at least heard the name ‘GoDaddy’, even if they’re not sure what exactly the company does. But that brand recognizability is exactly what the company needs to keep doors open. This isn’t to say taking plunging risks like GoDaddy is always the smartest move (they’ve definitely fallen on their faces a few times), but the idea remains an inspiring one. If a website domain company can be one of the most talked about companies out there, they’re certainly doing something right.
Lesson #5: Be brilliant at something unexpected
The expert: Lululemon
Lululemon’s brand dominates their industry. The yoga-inspired athletic apparel company has been so successful for many reasons, especially the way they encourage an entire healthy lifestyle as well as selling their product. Lululemon’s ‘good vibes’ and lifestyle branding are driven by their lesser known talent online: their killer content creation. Lululemon’s daily email newsletters are brilliant moments of witty copy, and their blog is a space for everything from wellness articles to profiles on up-and-coming folk singers. They’ve recently also released a seven part podcast as part of their one week meditation challenge. The constant contact a user receives online from the podcasts, interviews, and blogs establishes Lululemon’s brand beyond simply producing comfy yoga pants. The become that super healthy friend who you’ve always admired who’s also there to motivate you with some good vibes and great reads.
Lesson #6: Keep raising your own bar
The expert: Tesla
Heard of ‘Ludicrous Mode?’ Well, it’s Tesla’s new addition to the Model S sedan and Model X SUV that’s going to kick the car from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, and the SUV in 3.3. It’s also a nod to one of the greatest movies of all time (no judgement, it’s a classic). Elon Musk announced the new speed last month, as well as promising his adoring fans audience that “he’ll launch an all-new Roadster in four years” (Bloomberg). This announcement comes only a few months after the unveiling of Tesla’s next venture the ‘Powerwall’, their own sustainable home battery. The lesson here, in essence, is that Tesla refuses to quit. They’re pushing into multiple industries and demolishing all expectations along the way. There’s a reason they’re called “the brand of the year, decade and possibly century” (Forbes). Even if you’re not on the Elon Musk level, there can be strong value in refusing to settle and constantly pushing out new ideas and ways to evolve as a company. The energy surrounding Tesla and its supporters seems more like fans at a rock concert than shareholders and consumers. That’s a sign of how crucial Tesla’s brand has been in their success. Now, it’s all about where they’ll go from here. Maybe all the way to plaid? If you didn’t understand that, you didn’t click the movie link.
You’re writing great content, have must-see company updates, and now need people to see it! Before you consider shelling out some cash to pay for ad campaigns or promoted posts on social media, check out these quick tips you can implement almost immediately. Most of the time it’s just about being clear, having a great call to action, and making sure people see you asking for their email!
1. Be impossible to ignore
Even if someone is interested in you, they’re not going to dig very far into your website or social media accounts to give you their email. A signup form needs to be super easy to spot on each page of your site. You don’t have to include a pop-up; include the form as a sidebar or have it (very obviously!) in the footer. If you are into the idea of being impossible to ignore, feel free to have some fun with pop-ups when someone visits your page. Check out how J Crew and Madewell captured their audience’s attention.
2. Tell them why they need you
Hubspot does this well: there’s 300,000 other people on their marketing email list, so why aren’t you one of them? Think about what makes your list special, and what those who sign up are going to get. Then sell yourself in the same space where you’re asking them to sign up.
3. Offer exclusive content only for people on your list
If you’re producing any type of regular content such as thought leadership pieces, marketing guides, whitepapers, or webcasts, consider offering the next one only for your email subscribers. Make sure it’s a topic that a lot of people would be interested in. And then, the most important step, make sure you PROMOTE that new, exclusive piece. Share the whitepaper on social media with the subscribe link, and let people know that, by subscribing, they’ll only get more of this great content.
4. Ask your existing subscribers to pass you along
There’s no harm in just plain asking. The Skimm daily newsletter does a great job of this. At the end of each of their emails, they ask their list to share them and they offer a possible Starbucks gift card as an incentive. If you’re not there quite yet, just do a simple ‘please will you’ message (and make it fun!). Make sure it’s a breeze for a subscriber to click a link and share directly on social media or email with their own communities.
5. Offer a special deal when people opt-in
The opt-in form is a great moment to thank your new subscriber with a deal or gift. Offer a discount on their first product or a free assessment or service. If it doesn’t feel like the time to offer them anything substantial, then show them why their signup is beneficial with a list of everything they’re now receiving as a subscriber. Maybe they’re getting access to exclusive content, maybe they’re the first to get company updates. Whatever it is, let them know you’re excited and that they should be too.
6. Use social media to promote yourself
Show them exactly what they’ll be getting on social media. AKA: include an image! Share a nicely designed image along with the subscribe link to all your social media followers encouraging them to sign up. Here’s an example of a post we shared on Twitter with our subscribe link and an image of our newsletter.
While the wolves of Wall Street are away in Tahiti
Turns out vacation plans and warm weather have their effects on the markets as well. Summer is often a slower time for public companies, as it’s the slowest time for the markets and investors. MainStreet.com writes that “one of the biggest reasons [for summer slump] is that there isn’t much market-swaying information being released…summer is [the] correction period before the market picks up again in October”. Or maybe everyone just wants to find some sand, sun, and surf.
Regardless of the reason, it makes us excited because summer is a great time to strengthen your investor marketing strategies–aka our bread and butter. If getting more visibility to your IR website or researching new investor marketing tactics was in the back of your mind in the past year, try thinking about it now. Here are some questions to ask yourself this summer to help strengthen future IR marketing strategies.
1. Have I taken a look at my website lately?
How does your website stack up amongst others in your industry? Does the design need to be updated? Take a look at some of your competitors’ websites. Design trends move so fast nowadays that it’s important to take a step back and reassess where your corporate and investor site is on the scale. This doesn’t mean you need to be ridiculously cutting edge. But some things, like being mobile-friendly, are really important to start incorporating. (Mobilegeddon anyone?) Your investor website is the main point of contact between you and your target audience. Think about whether it’s time to give the site a refresh. Summer’s a great time to get started!
2. How are my social media accounts doing?
Still not on social media? No excuses this time. If you still need proof on how social media can work for investors, get it here. Next week’s blog will also talk about Twitter and investor relations specifically, so stay tuned. When we say you should look at your social media accounts, we don’t mean just making sure you have them. Have you seen some new things companies are doing with Twitter and IR marketing? Check out how General Electric’s CEO tweeted important quotes from their annual meeting. Use social media to get more people involved and more people listening.
3. Have I started cleaning my email lists?
Remember our infographic last week? We showed you how ensuring your subscribers are a ‘yay’ on the CASL scale actually increases your open-rate by 87%! If you haven’t seen the proof yet, we really think you should check it out. Going through your email lists might sound like less than a good time, but it’ll be really helpful especially when the markets pick back up. How many of your news releases are currently sent to outdated contacts or lost in spam filters? As we showed in the infographic, outdated lists affect your open-rate statistics. Plus, don’t you want to be sending emails to only those who actually care?
4. Have I looked at new ways people are using technology for investor marketing?
Start researching. We talked a few weeks ago about T-Mobile live-streaming their earnings call and participating in a live social media Q&A. There’s a lot of ways to incorporate newer technologies into investor marketing that many companies haven’t touched on yet. Summer’s a good time to see what’s out there and start thinking of how things like webcasts and live Q&A’s can work for you.
5. Do I have plans to start using more video in my marketing efforts?
Remember the infamous ‘Oreo Superbowl tweet of 2013′? If you don’t: Oreo Cookies’ real-time reaction tweet about ‘dunking in the dark’ minutes after the power went out in the Superbowl stadium stands as the pinnacle moment of brands reacting to current events on social media. Two years later, everyone has shown up to the party and things are getting crowded.
Using video for investor marketing is still fairly new. So there’s still time to be the Oreo of public company video marketing. Start thinking of how you can use video to target investors whether it’s a casual CEO one-on-one interview, an animated spot about your company’s product or process, or a short video of highlights to showcase your investment proposition. Whatever you choose, start looking into it now, because video is going to be the new social media.
Wondering what time of day you should send that email to maximize its chances?
Recently we looked back at three years worth of data from our clients’ email blasts to their target audiences and learned some pretty cool things. We love seeing trends that could help you, and we also love infographics. See below to find out some ways our findings could assist your own investor email strategy. What is the best time of day to send an email, keeping in mind PST and EST audiences? What devices are people reading emails on nowadays? Also, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) has been the talk of the town over the past year. How has the new law affected your emails?
Over the past couple of months, we’ve fielded a lot of questions about the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation and now the government has stepped up by providing further clarification about the new regulations.
You can check the “Get the Facts” section on the new landing page for the Fight Spam government site but we’d like to highlight the two that deserve the most attention:
Myth: I won’t be able to use email or my current email list to promote my products and services.
Fact: You can continue to use email if you have express or implied consent from recipients. During the 36-month transition period, you can continue to use your current email list if
you have previously provided your products or services to them and
they haven’t told you to stop.
Myth: I heard that I could be fined up to $10 million for sending an email and that there could be class actions.
Fact: There are no automatic penalties. The CRTC has a range of enforcement tools available, from warnings to penalties (up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses).
As always, it’s important to go to the source to get the latest information but we’re glad to help clarify any questions with our FAQ.
Well, first of all, thanks for reading our Blender Online Magazine! This is our tenth issue and throughout these months, we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to email marketing. Email is fast and versatile when it comes to delivering information to targeted audience. It’s a cost effective method that allows your company you reach specific individuals and track how successful the email was at engaging your audience. So how do you ensure that your emails are open and people are reading the corporate materials that you send? Here’s a list of tips we came up with to help you ace your email communications.
Focus and fine tune. Just like any other project, when it is unfocused and it doesn’t have a clear objective, it just becomes a mess. What is the purpose of the email subscription? What do you hope to achieve? In order for the email to succeed and generate results, you need to give it a purpose. For our online magazine, we aim to keep our clients in touch with the latest news and exclusive insights that would enhance their investor relations strategies. This helps us stay focused and keep content relevant to our clients.
Keep your content balanced. Second step is coming up with a content strategy. Make sure the content is informative and educational to the receiver. As much as they love you and your company, if they are not learning anything from the email, it’s likely that they’ll just delete without even glancing at it. Let it be face sheets, news, upcoming conference calls or webcasts, make sure it’s all relevant to them. It’s easy to fall into the trap of self-promotional content but it also kills the open rates of your emails!
Get a subscribe button and landing page! How else are investors and analysts going to sign up if you don’t have a form or landing page for them? Once you’ve figured out the content and got email campaigns running, you’d most likely want to expand your reach. Rather than relying on referrals, a landing page with sign up subscriptions would help a lot. Give them a teaser of what the newsletter is like, and entice them to subscribe!
Subject lines matter. Chances are, newsletters always have valuable content but we never read them because the headlines are not engaging enough. Here are five things to avoid when it comes optimizing your email marketing, check out a blog post we wrote earlier: 5 Subject Line Mistakes to Avoid.
Keep design simplistic. Make content concise, key points ‘scannable’, and design minimal. When things are precise, it’s easy to follow. The design layout of the newsletter will make the content an easier read, and receiver would be more inclined to open and read it again.
Make the un-subscription process easy. You know how annoying it is when you’re trying to unsubscribe for something and it takes forever. Don’t make your current and prospective investors hate you for an email campaign you send out. Tying them down with email communications that they hate would just make them hate the company. It’s sad to see them go, but think of it as keeping your email list healthy!
What are some of the digital communications tools your company is using right now? When you’re not readily available to talk to every investor, shareholder and analyst out there, the digitals would be the primary contact person for your company. Give the investment community the information they’re looking for! Want to make sure you’ve got yourself covered on the Internet? Check out our list of investor-focused digital communications:
An IR website is, of course, the primary resource of corporate information. It is there to help investors and analysts to get to know you better, so they can go on and make investment decisions. Put yourself in the investor’s shoes, and crawl through the website like an investor would. Can you access the information quickly and efficiently? Is the content up-to-date? Are outdated materials nicely organized into an archive section? Is your website (hub of information) accessible through mobile? Think of your IR website as your online spokesperson, and make sure it has all the materials that it needs!
Without me saying, you’re probably aware of the recent videoconference calls that were held by Netflix and Yahoo! Live video conference calls are definitely costly and not for everyone; however, most conference calls are just broadcast live by audio webcast, and it is a popular IR tool. It gives you more room to communicate and explain things in greater detail than you would normally in just a news release.
Email marketing is a great way of communications as well; the best part is that, the emails you send out can be tracked. With open rates, clicked ratio, and other statistics, you can turn information into intelligence. From the statistical results, you can track your success, and measure your IR communications strategies. What’s more important is that, your target audience has the option to email you back and contact you right away if they have questions or comments.
You must have read/seen/scanned a lot of content about social media and investor relations already… but it’s only the truth – social media is making a huge impact on investor relations. With social networking sites, information is shared everywhere, every day, every second. Let it be blog postings or tweets, they are all great platforms to get your company’s message out. Handy tip: good content always have it easier when it comes to engaging conversations. Always ask yourself, is this information relevant? If no, think twice, because people are most likely not going to share it.
Webcasting is growing more and more popular every day. It usually involves audio with slides or video broadcast over the Internet. The biggest plus would be that, personal (yet virtual) relationship you’re building with your target audience. You intrigue your investors or analysts with a hook, they sign up (and you get their contacts) and you inform them about your company. It’s convenient and efficient! Give it a try if you haven’t already! Webcasting would work well for events such as, quarterly earnings, shareholder meetings, and presentations that you might have at hand.
Why scare away your readers with boring subject lines? Chances are, newsletters always have valuable content but we never read them because the headlines are not engaging enough. Here are five things to avoid when it comes optimizing your email marketing:
Long, windy subject lines
Readers are most likely going to close the window or click elsewhere if your subject line is too long and wordy. To capture readers’ attention, subject lines have to be short and punchy in order to stimulate click-throughs.
Be human, not jargon
Catchy headlines with insider and technical jargon may be intriguing but it’s also going to discourage customers if they’re not familiar with that gobbledygook. So it’s better to replace any technical terms with common language.
Words that spell SPAM
There are certain words you should avoid otherwise your email or newsletter will be caught in spam filters of your readers. Words to avoid would be: “FREE”, “discount”, “call now!”, or “don’t miss a chance to win…” – you get the idea.
Simple and direct > witty and vague
It’s sometimes difficult avoid but it’s best to refrain ourselves from being creative and witty when it comes to subject lines. Keeping it simple and direct will actually get your email opened and read.
Misleading and open promises
Be truthful rather than creating a misleading subject line that your email content doesn’t cover. When your readers open your email, only to find that you made an open promise, they’ll just be disappointed.
Content is important but crafting a terrific headline that secures your readers’ attention is even more important. Readers won’t discover your brilliant content if there isn’t an enticing headline to click-through.
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