If you are not familiar with this business model, here’s how it works.
Of course this is just a high level overview, but that should be enough information for you to get the gist of it. So the question is, do you have to disclosure the fact that you are a partner (or a affiliate) in the email you send to your list?
Canada rolled out a new anti spam law (the CASL) in late June of 2014. The majority of the provisions of the new law are already in effect (as of July 1st), however there is a transitional period to seek “explicit consent” from people you already have a business relationship with, more on that in a moment.
You might be thinking, I don’t live in Canada, so who cares? Well if you run a business that might have Canadian customers, you have to care. If you have gathered email addresses for a list, it’s quite likely that some of your subscribers are Canadian. And while some of them might have a .ca email address, plenty more will have used a free email service such as gmail or hotmail, so you really can’t tell who are the Canadians on your list.
So you might as well assume that you need to comply with CASL, which is more restrictive than the US CAN-SPAM Federal Act.
I’ve spent some time reading through the law text and various articles, and here’s what I’ve learned. Now I’m not an expert, on any law, Canadian or otherwise, but this post should serve as a starting point. If you want to learn more, I would suggest reading Michael Geist’s articles that can be found on the Toronto Star, since he IS an expert on Canadian Internet Law.
If you don’t use gmail to read your email, you might be forgiven missing the latest uproar over gmail’s new tabbed inbox. One day I logged into my gmail account to find that my email was sorted into three tabs “Primary”, “Social”, and “Promotions”. We humans don’t like change and I am no different. My first reaction was: “How do I put it back the way it was?”Now that I’ve given it a few days, I find that I like it. Having emails from my social activity (especially now that I recently have become more active on Google+) go into a tab rather than into my primary email stream is wonderful and helps me keep on track with my goal to interact with my social networks at set periods during the day, rather than let social updates interrupt my work (which often includes email tasks).
I’ve received invitations to a BBQ party in Wisconsin, a trail of notifications of Christmas shopping purchases in Florida, an admonishment to close the gate from a UK suburb association, numerous car insurance quotes, invoices, periodic pleas from a gaming site to please please come back, and even a notification from a tax software company that the IRS rejected my return.
Just back from Loral Langemeier’s Alumni conference in San Diego. While not specifically focused on internet marketing, there were several internet marketing sessions there, including a panel that included Geoff Zimpfer from Infusionsoft. Infusionsoft if you are not aware of it, is the uber online customer management system. It’s a CRM (customer relationship management), EMail Marketing and eCommerce system all in one. It’s pricey, but a quite a nice system and surprisingly intuitive.
Geoff said something interesting that I wrote down. I think we all can agree that with email marketing it needs to be a balance between providing value and selling. But what’s that balance? Geoff proposes a point system. For each email you send out that delivers value to your audience you get a point. An email that is a sales pitch, you deduct 7 points. So he’s recommending you strike a 7 to 1 balance here.
I think he is right that a balance needs to be struck, however I’m not sure I agree with the math. Why would 5 to 1 be less effective? If you deliver great value and it in general is more frequent than the sales pitches, does the 7 to 1 ratio need to be rigorously adhered to? My suspicion is that he based the comment on statistics that Infusionsoft has available to it, so I don’t think we can dismiss the comment lightly.
How many of us have an optin box on our blog? It has been drilled into us over and over again, that if you are serious about your online presence for your business, you must have a list and a way for people to optin (join your list).
Benefits of a list are many:
And that’s just a few of the reasons to have a list.
If you are new to email marketing, I have some earlier posts on the topic.
Some blogs’ optin offer a free report as a bribe in exchange for an email address. Others don’t offer anything at all, just a monthly newsletter.
What if we did something just a little different? Instead of a bribe (free report or video) or the promise of yet another unread newsletter, how about we re-purpose the optin box to invite questions?
Not only does this help build your list, but you can get a real sense of what questions people are interested in, helping you write more targeted blog posts. Eventually it might even help shape products and services that you might offer. Way better than writing a newsletter than may or may not be relevant to your audience.
Many autoresponder systems give you the ability to tailor the opt-in box to include custom fields, as a custom field is what is needed to add the question field to the optin box. I use aweber, and with that system, just look for the “Create New Field” button on the right when you are editing your web form. The hardest part for me was finding a form skinny enough to fit into my existing blog template. Once you have created your optin form, in most cases you can copy and paste the HTML code into a text widget in your blog (the widget menu can be found under “Appearance” in your WordPress dashboard).
Note that you need to let people know that you are adding them to your list, see my “ask a question” widget to the right for an example. I’ve also decided to make the optin a double optin process (the reader has to confirm their email address) just so it’s really clear what’s going on.
To give credit where credit is due, this cool idea is courtesy of Sylvie Fortin. Her website is workaholics4hire.com which provides outsourcing services
The money is in the list. With a list you can build on your relationship with your clients so they are more likely to buy from you and also let them know of exciting products and services. For me, I wanted to keep in touch with my community and build my reputation as a web marketer, so what better way to do that than to create an email list with a monthly newsletter? To get myself into action on this goal, I had an networking event coming up so I decided to hand out postcards with a website URL where a free report was available for download when visitors opted into my email list.
To make this happen there was a number of components that I needed to build or configure to work together. The cost was just over $100 (mostly for the postcards). Use this blog post as a guide to build your your own!
Step 1: Create Your Offer To encourage people to opt into my list, I wrote a free report called “Five Ways to Make Your Website Googlicious”. Most website owners do not know much about SEO (search engine optimization), so my goal was to open their eyes on how they could make their website more search engine friendly.
Step 2: Create the postcard I used VistaPrint for creating the postcard. On their site (Advertising and Marketing –> Postcards), I found a template that I liked and added the text I needed. Your choices of templates are overwhelming but otherwise the process is straightforward. Cost: approx. $90 for 250 double sided glossy postcards
Step 3: Squeeze Page For the squeeze page, I bought the domain www.yoursuccessfulwebsite.com and recruited a bored college student to create a squeeze page out of a template we got for $9. I’m not happy with the template code, but it does the job. Since I hosted the site in a subdirectory in a bluehost.com account I already had, I didn’t have to buy additional hosting.
Finding Images On the postcard there is a picture of a person looking through a spyglass which aligned nicely with the messaging of the postcard which asked “Can Your Customers Find Your Website?”. To reinforce the messaging and as a memory jogger, I wanted to show a similar image on the website. I found one in istockphoto.com for a few dollars.
Image Tweaks for the non Graphically Inclined While everything looked great on a PC, I arrived at the seminar with my Mac laptop and found that that the header of the website was not displaying properly! For the just in time simple or last minute tweaks to images on my Macbook Pro I used Paintbrush which is a free download.
Step 4: Autoresponder / Email System Since I wanted a flexible autoresponder for multiple uses, I created an account at aweber. aweber is $19 a month for 500 contacts. If you just want to just email a newsletter to a list, you might consider icontact which is cheaper. Both will generate web form code that you can copy and paste into your squeeze page for your opt-in box.
I hope this overview helps you put together your own email list and opt-in web form. Good Luck!
With the recent announcement that Facebook’s weekly traffic has surpassed google’s, Facebook has become a force to be reckoned with. Well you already knew that, but really, it’s just not going away.
The world’s largest walled garden does have a way for you to show your public face. Facebook fan pages have generated a ton of interest from businesses who want to use them for branding and customer engagement. Sometimes companies even partner with fans who have created a page as Coca-Cola recently did with coke lovers Dusty and Michael.
With a fan page you can virally get your message out there. When someone becomes a fan of your page, their network knows. With fan pages you can post updates and advertise events. So is the Facebook fan page a replacement for email marketing?
One development to watch, is that Facebook plans to issue 400 million email addresses to Facebook users. The email addresses would use your vanity Facebook name as an username, so that you would have a @facebook.com email address.
So is email marketing dead? Hard to say. But a system that provides a rich interaction with your clients via both fan page and soon via their email systems, could be very compelling, especially since it is all free!
A month ago I googled for GetResponse and AWeber product reviews. As the two top leading Autoresponders in the industry, I found that they both had fans and overall pretty decent reviews. The differentiation that initially jumped out at me, is that AWeber had slightly better deliverability stats and GetResponse was slightly cheaper. For 500 contacts, GetResponse will charge you $18 a month, AWeber $19. Both offer unlimited lists and autoresponders, detailed statistics and several types of opt in forms. One thing that GetResponse offers that AWeber does not is surveys. Users gave AWeber higher marks for it’s reports. Other than that they appeared to be comparable. However there is nothing like comparing the two for yourself.
Recently, I got the chance to simultaneously spend time with both and compare them side by side. Here’s my impressions of the initial use of both products.
AWeber is more intuitive. For the initial user, AWeber has a handy wizard that steps you through the initial creation of your list, customizing the initial emails and generating the web form. In GetResponse, where lists are called campaigns, the setup was a little less intuitive, there isn’t that handy step by step wizard. For example, I had a lot of trouble locating the confirmation email (what is sent to your contacts to confirm they want to be on your list) to customize it. I wouldn’t have thought that it would be located under “languages”.
Both have a variety of choices of confirmation email message subjects that allow limited customization. AWeber allows further customization of the subject with manual review. GetResponse does not. Both allow customization of the template, which is good. I recently worked with another autoresponder that did not, which seemed unnecessarily limiting (with imports I consider being able to personalize the confirmation email an important way to remind the contact how you know them).
Regarding the always controversial topic of enforcing double opt-in (or confirmation), both allow you to turn off confirmation if you know where to look. GetResponse, in this cases, is a a little more intuitive and flexible (you can find this under contact settings), you can selectively turn it off for just email subscriptions for example. However in my account turning it off for import subscribers was greyed out, I guess they have had too much trouble with purchased lists. With AWeber the User Interface (menu option: “Confirmed opt-in”) infers you can only turn it off for Web Form Opt-Ins, however I did not confirm this.
Like many of you, I belong to a few business networking and education groups. They are a valuable source of potential leads, joint venture partnerships and even great ideas. So imagine my disappointment when one of the group’s members started spamming us with emails that was marketing speakers and websites with obvious affiliate links.
His facebook friend request? That got the “ignore” click. His emails? The delete button. His potential to provide a service to me? Nonexistent.
As a marketer he should really know better. With just a little education and use of the right tools, you can avoid following in his footsteps. As soon as you start using email to talk about your business and your services and products you need to avoid the “spammer” trap.
CAN-SPAM Act of 2003
In 2003, President Bush signed into law the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. I think it is helpful to know what CAN-SPAM stands for: “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing”. The key is “Non-Solicited”. Just like you may not like uninvited salesman at your front door selling you vacuum cleaners, un-solicited marketing by email has the same taint to it …. and it’s illegal to boot.
While covering the CAN-SPAM Act in it’s entirety is beyond the scope of this article, here are the two things you need to know.
Many privacy activists felt the CAN-SPAM Act was ineffectual and didn’t go far enough. Some went so far to call it the “I can spam Act”. For these reasons the ESPs (more on what that is in a moment) that legitimate businesses use set a higher standard. The removals happen quickly, usually within 24 hours. And many businesses take advantage of the “double opt-in” feature and send invitations for you join their list before even one marketing email is sent. That perfect client you met at last week’s business event may need a reminder to remember you, and an invitation to continue the conversation by joining your list is a graceful way to keep you in the forefront of their mind.
What are ESPs?
ESPs are email service providers. There are a number of excellent ones on the market, and for a monthly fee they will store your contact list, send the emails for you, help you build in your opt-in box or link, and handle all the details of email marketing, such as complying with the CAN-SPAM Act by: 1) automatically generating the unsubscribe link in each email you send through their tools and then 2) doing the right thing when someone clicks on it.
Some of the ESPs even enforce the “double opt-in” feature, where any existing list of contacts you upload into their system will be sent an email asking permission to be placed in their system. While it can be painful to lose those contacts that don’t respond, your resulting list will be of higher quality.
If you remember one thing from this article, it is that you want to do Permission based email marketing. You always want to have a user’s permission before sending them an email.
If that business network member had gone through a few extra steps to have an unsubscribe link in his email, I would have thought so much higher of him. And maybe I would have even clicked on one of his links, earning him a commission.