Spam is dead. Long live spam

Oct. 13, 2014
Canadian law has consequences for U.S. businesses

Thanking government for anything is just not in my DNA. So speaking on behalf of my email inbox, I’d like to give kudos to the Canadian government for the anti-spam legislation it put into effect on July 1. You’ve probably heard about the Canadian Anti-Spam Law. It applies to commercial electronic messages sent to or from computers and devices in Canada. Before marketers can hit the send button to a Canadian, they need to do three things: They have to identify themselves; they have to offer a way to opt out from getting similar messages in the future; and they need the consent of their intended victim.

Why fret about a Canadian email law? First, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Atlanta or Alberta. If you send unsolicited marketing emails to someone in Canada, you could be prosecuted as a spammer. Second, is it really so bad to make sure people actually want your emails? It reminds me of all the security initiatives in the post-9/11 era. At the time, their cost and aggravation made me loathe Big Government. But when all was said and done, I realized that playing by tougher rules gave our company a huge competitive advantage. This law is no different.

As you ponder the fate of your email contact list, consider the following:

  • Email is not dead. Don’t believe the hipsters who say email is dead. It may take more work to use it as a marketing platform, but email remains an accepted and trusted way to communicate, move documents, and archive messages. The challenge is to find the most effective way to get the message out, whether it’s by email, social media, or some other means of direct marketing. One size does not fit all!
  • Vanilla tastes bad. Too much direct-marketing is self-serving and bland. You have to give people a reason to want to receive what you have to send. Educate, engage, and entertain. Have an opinion. Provide flavor and texture. You’ll get a better response.
  • The new close. Every email marketing strategy must involve the sales team, whose job is to convince decision-makers that your material is worth space in their inbox. But don’t worry if someone doesn’t sign on the dotted line. There are lots of ways to engage customers. Have a frank discussion to determine what form of communication works best.
  • Behind the scenes. The work really starts once your contacts consent to receiving your emails. There are excellent email marketing services that can help you build campaigns, manage lists, and provide a treasure trove of data about email open rates and click-throughs. If no one’s reading the “Commentary from the C-Suite” column, it might be time to replace it with something that adds value. Sorry, Mr. President.

Canada’s anti-spam legislation isn’t an obscure law from a third-world country. There’s been a lot written about it, and email marketing companies have done a good job of educating people in the United States about how to comply. The Canadian government has good material online, too (try or

As a marketer, it’s worth a look. For one, asking people for consent to send them email shows that you respect their time. Second, you’ll collect some serious analytics and see what truly interests the people you’re trying to reach. Finally, you’ll be ready when the U.S. steps up with similar rules. It’s only a matter of time before they cook up something, and it won’t be my favorite canned lunch treat.

Mike McCarron was one of the founding “M”s in MSM Transportation before the company was purchased by the Wheels Group. Based in Toronto, he currently works for Wheels in mergers and acquisitions and can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter @AceMcC.

About the Author

Mike McCarron

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