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What can these guys teach you about opt-in marketing?


Quite a lot actually. The new Canadian Anti-Spam law has removed the ability to contact prospects electronically without their consent. Opt-in marketing is now a rule. You can no longer email, instant message, text or use (some) social media unless you have consent.

The fall-out from it is a preview of what might happen in Europe when the EU Data Regulation (EUDR) hits in 2015.

Unfortunately, the European laws are more stringent and far reaching. It not only includes digital marketing but also direct mail and telemarketing – all forms of direct marketing will be affected by the EUDR.

So what can we learn from Canada?

First, expect a gold rush. While some larger firms will be prepared for the transition to opt-in marketing, many SME’s will leave it too late. Canada witnessed a stampede as the deadline approached; firms fighting to get consent from prospects. Many voices were drowned out by the noise.

Secondly, in Canada there are two types of consent - implied or express. You can assume consent if you have an existing relationship with a client, i.e. they have bought from you before. A similar rule may apply in Europe.

This is great for the big, established companies like Amazon or Tesco that have the software to document every purchase and online interaction. But smaller firms in Canada struggled to prove previous purchase, their record keeping was just not up to scratch.

Thirdly, not everyone will opt-in before the deadline. Brad Hains runs an annual bicycle race in the village of Terra Cotta, Ontario. He never thought the new law would affect his email list of 1,200 names. In an interview with the New York Times he said “It’s caused a lot of extra work and it will limit our ability to market the race.”

From a list of 1,200 names just 147 people have opted-in. Apparently this rate is typical. Antoine Aylwin, a lawyer at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin in Montreal, claims about 20 percent of people are likely to opt-in from an average list.

Read the full online article from the New York Times and view a recording of a recent EU data webinar. Learn from our Canadian cousins and be prepared.