CASL is short for the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation that went into effect on July 1, 2014.

The law currently remains in effect with no changes.

July 1, 2017 marked the end of the “three-year transitional period” and you must obtain permission for all addresses you are mailing to regardless of how long or when you acquired the address.

What is CASL?

CASL intends to protect electronic commerce in Canada by deterring damaging and deceptive forms of spam, such as:

  • Identity theft
  • Phishing
  • Spyware

What does CASL require from businesses?

CASL requires all businesses to obtain and document consent to send commercial emails to Canadians.

This means that if you have Canadian email addresses in your email marketing database, the law is applicable to you even if your business is based in the U.S. or any other country outside of Canada.

What do you need to do to make sure you’re CASL-compliant?

We’ve build several tools and features to help you be CASL compliant. We’ve also created a new CASL Resource Center where you can find all the information you need to build an email marketing strategy with CASL in mind.

If you’re wondering what you need to do to be CASL-compliant today, there are three steps we recommend:

Step 1: Review your email address collection methods

For all Canadian email addresses added to your email marketing database before July 1, 2014, CASL requires you to document express consent from your customers.

For all Canadian email addresses added to your email marketing database after July 1, 2014, CASL requires you to document consent, either implied or express.

Implied consent is inferred based on actions, such as having an existing business relationship (making a purchase or donation, for example). In order to maintain implied consent, a contact must initiate a business action with you at least once every two years.  If express consent is not obtained within the two-year window, best practice is to move the contact to the “unsubscribe” state

Express consent is obtained when you explicitly ask your potential contacts for permission to send them email, and they agree. Once you obtain express consent, it is good forever or until someone opts out.

If you use the Constant Contact website sign-up form to collect email addresses it will contain the necessary information and you will have a record of express consent from your contacts that is documented within your Constant Contact account.

If you are using methods other than the Constant Contact website sign-up form, such as a third-party sign-up form, manually uploading a list, or a paper sign-up form, you’ll need to make sure you’re adding the appropriate CASL-compliant language to all of these sign-up methods and save documentation of the contact’s express permission.

Step 2: Obtain express consent

For contacts added prior to July 1, 2014, you must be able to document express consent before July 1, 2017 (three years after the law goes into effect).  After this date, all (Canadian) contacts older than two years without express consent must be moved to the unsubscribed state.

We recommend you start taking any necessary actions to comply with CASL sooner rather than later.

Review your email list and answer the following:

  • Do you have any contacts with an email address ending with .ca?
  • Do you have any contacts with a Canadian physical address or phone number associated with an email address?

If the answer is yes, we recommend sending a dedicated email to your Canadian contacts asking them to confirm their opt-in status by clicking a link within the email. When a contact clicks on the opt-in link in the email, the contact will be tracked as express consent by Constant Contact.

We created a special CASL template to make this process simple for you.

Step 3: Make sure ongoing communications have appropriate CASL required information

All marketing emails you send must contain the following information in order to be CASL compliant.

Make sure you can answer “yes” to the following questions:

  • Does the email clearly identify the person, business, or organization sending the message?
  • Does the email identify the Email Service Provider?
  • Does the email have a mechanism for people to easily unsubscribe at any time?
  • Does your email contain a valid mailing address and either a telephone number, email address, or web address?

Note: All emails sent through your Constant Contact account include the information above and will be in compliance with CASL.

Permission-based email marketing is the best route to developing long-lasting customer relationships.

We’ve seen that businesses that focus on permission-based marketing demonstrate that they value the trust and privacy of each and every customer. As a result, they have better open rates, less spam reports, and more opportunities to grow their business.

By building permission-based lists that follow CASL requirements, you’ll keep yourself safe by being in compliance and set yourself up for marketing success!

There’s nothing small about the impact of small businesses in Canada.

Small and medium-sized companies represent 99.8 percent of all companies and employ 64 percent of private sector workers in Canada.

And this month, we’re excited to be celebrating these businesses as part of Small Business Month in Canada.

If you own a small business in Canada, you’re fortunate to have access to a number of people and organizations that are committed to your success.

To celebrate Small Business Month, we compiled some of these resources with information about how they can help with your success. Whether you’re looking for help with funding, need advice for growing your business, or want to become a better marketer — these resources can help.

Business Resources

1. Chamber of Commerce

In addition to the number of benefits that come with membership in the Chamber of Commerce, organizations like Canadian Chamber of Commerce, BC Chamber of Commerce, and Mississauga Board of Trade, also offer free resources to help you stay informed about new policies and issues that could impact your business. The Chambers also host a full schedule of events, both online and in-person.

Learn more:

2. Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

@BDC_News

The Business Development Bank of Canada sponsors Small Business Week during the third week of October (October 18 – 24), which features live events across Canada.

Their website also features helpful articles with advice for things like:

You can find all of these helpful resources here.

3. Canadian Association of Women Executives & Entrepreneurs (CAWEE)

For nearly forty years, The Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs (CAWEE) has been helping Canadian businesswomen build valuable, lasting relationships to strengthen their business.

You can check out their full schedule of member and non-member events here.

4. Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB)

@CFIB

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) offers business support services to small business owners throughout Canada. In addition to advocating on behalf of independent business owners, CFIB’s Media Centre provides up-to-date news and advice for businesses across Canada.

5. Enterprise Toronto

@enterpriseTO

Enterprise Toronto is committed to supporting startup businesses in the Toronto area. They have free resources to help you start your business, and will connect you with the services you need to run your business more effectively. They also offer free resources for organizations looking to plan events in the Toronto area.

6. Small Business BC

@SmallBusinessBC

Small Business BC is hosting a series of seminars and free events in celebration of Small Business Month.

In addition to these events, Small Business BC offers tools and resources for business owners at any stage of their business — whether you’re starting a business, growing a business, or planning to exit a business.

Marketing Advice

7. Canadian Marketing Association (CMA)

@CdnMarketing

Whether you like to learn in-person or online, the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) offers a variety of educational resources you can use to be a better marketer. Check out the Canadian Marketing Blog for actionable advice to improve your marketing, or find an educational event in your area.

8. Top Dog Social Media

@MelonieDodaro

If you’re looking for daily social media news and advice, Top Dog Social Media has you covered. The Top Dog Social Media blog is packed with helpful advice for making social media work for your business. They also offer a free LinkedIn Master Class, presented by Top Dog Social Media founder and bestselling author of The LinkedIn Code, Melonie Dodaro.

9. RebeccaColeman.ca

@rebeccacoleman

Social media expert, Rebecca Coleman, offers practical social media advice that you can use to build your social media presence. You can subscribe to Rebecca’s Blogging Mastery newsletter to receive a monthly newsletter with helpful articles and blogging advice.

10. MarcGordon.ca

@MarcGordonDotCA

If you’re looking for quick and actionable small business marketing and business management advice, check out Marc Gordon’s High 5 for Business articles. Each article is around 300 words and shares five practical tips in the areas of marketing, sales, and customer service.

Bonus Resources

Constant Contact offers a number of marketing resources and services for small businesses in Canada.

You can read our latest marketing advice from our Canadian contributors, and read our latest content about topics impacting Canadian business owners here.

You can also find a full calendar of marketing seminars and training events in Canada in our event calendar.

Happy Small Business Month!

Looking for additional marketing advice? Check out these 11 tips from Canadian small business experts.

October is Small Business Month in Canada.

It’s a month dedicated to honoring Canadian entrepreneurs, and celebrating small businesses for all that you do.

Here at Constant Contact, we are fortunate to have the chance to work with small businesses and organizations throughout Canada every day.

One of the things we enjoy most is when we have the chance to hear the stories of successful small business owners who have used our email marketing tools to become better marketers.

To celebrate Small Business Month, we wanted to share some of our favorite tips from these small business experts.

Read them all below, and help us in celebrating Small Business Month Canada by sharing your best advice with the hashtag #BeaMarketer.

11 Marketing Experts from Canadian Small Business Experts from Constant Contact

 

1. Provide a personal touch

“It’s always nice to hear someone tell us how much they enjoyed reading our newsletter and thanking us for reminding them to come visit the store or give us a call. The personal touch really makes the difference.”

Sue Bedell, Owner, Second Bloom Design

Dorchester, Ontario

Constant Contact customer since 2010

Learn more: 3 Steps to Building Better Relationships with Email and Social Media

2. Ask for permission

“If you have been following e-newsletter best practices all along, you have nothing to fear from CASL! I’ve only ever added people to my list who had given me permission, so I was super happy when CASL came into effect.”

Rebecca Coleman, www.rebeccacoleman.ca

Vancouver, British Columbia

Constant Contact customer since 2015

Learn more: [Q&A] How to Use Social Media and Email Marketing to Strengthen Your Business

3. Be clear and concise

“People don’t have the time to read a lot of text. We make sure our emails are informative but also quick and easy to read.”

Julie Ananny, Owner, Wine Station

Ottawa, Ontario

Constant Contact customer since 2012

Learn more: 10 Small Businesses & Nonprofits with Great-Looking Email Templates that Drive Action

4. Stay consistent

“In an industry like ours, it can sometimes take a few years before you actually convert a new client. So, we really focus on being consistent and building the relationship any way we can.”

Bahar Saadat, Marketing Manager, Davidson & Company, LLP

Vancouver, British Columbia

Constant Contact customer since 2013

Learn more: How to Use Email Marketing to Build Brand Awareness

5. Focus on client success

“When you help your clients succeed, they’re going to come back time and time again because you’re generating that positive return on their investment.”

Vito Marchese, Founder, Whiteboard Studios

Toronto, Ontario

Constant Contact Solution Provider since 2011

Learn more: How the Right Partner Helped One Consultant Expand His Services and Add Value to His Clients

6. Listen to your audience

“We want to make sure our families are enjoying their experience, so we send out a couple surveys each year — once a semester, one in September and one in January.  We ask about their experience, what we can improve on, what they’re enjoying about their lessons. And we found that’s a really great way to get feedback.”

Cynthia Lee, Community Manager, Dominelli School of Music

Edmonton, Alberta

Constant Contact customer since 2009

Learn more: 5 Types of Emails to Show Your Customers How Much They Matter to Your Business

7. Make it easy to sign up

“At first we only had a sign-up form on our website, but once we realized how well it worked for us we’ve added it to our social media sites and pretty much anywhere else we can possibly add it.”

Dan Plouffe, Co-owner, MyCollingwood.com

Collingwood, Ontario

Constant Contact customer since 2006

Learn more: How One Small Business Became the Talk of Their Town with Email and Social Media

8. Understand your audience

“We work closely with every client to understand the challenges they face and the results they want to achieve. We put a plan in place to fit their needs and offer the coaching and support to help them get where they want to go.”

Brandon Klayman, CEO, Conscious Commerce

Calgary, Alberta

Constant Contact Solution Provider since 2004

Learn more: From Worst to First: How to Find the Right Partner to Turn Your Marketing Around

9. Track your results

“Email has definitely helped us with web traffic and attendance at our events. I like that after I send an email out, I can go back and see how many people clicked through on which links. That way I can tell people are interacting with our content and click through to our website.”

Ally Whittaker, Public Relations Manager, The Local Good

Edmonton, Alberta

Constant Contact customer since 2009

Learn more: 5 Steps to Grow an Email Audience that Looks Forward to Hearing from You

10. Go beyond the inbox

“Social media and email really go hand-in-hand.  The ultimate goal for all of my social media campaigns is to get people to join my email list. I would rather have one subscriber than 10 followers, because I have direct access to that one subscriber.”

Marc Gordon, www.marcgordon.ca

Toronto, Ontario

Constant Contact customer since 2007

Learn more: [Q&A] Small Business Marketing Advice from a Lifelong Entrepreneur

11. Try something new

“You need to learn, but at some point, just get out and try it. You’ll never know everything about the marketing tactic you want to try, so it’s best to just try it out and see what kind of impact you can get, then adjust accordingly.”

Lisa Kember, Constant Contact Regional Director for Canada

Learn more: Small Business Tips from the Field: Meet Lisa Kember

Share your best marketing advice!

Post your best marketing advice in the comments below or share it on social media with the hashtag #BeaMarketer.

Happy Small Business Month Canada!

We’ve reached the halfway point in our series on Content Creation versus Content Curation!

In this third installment, we’ll discuss some ideas you can walk away with and apply to your own business.

Before we do, let’s recap.

We started by defining content curation and content creation, and exploring the differences between them.

Then, last month, we talked about which networks worked best for content curation.

In today’s post, I’ll share some ideas for curating content; ideas you can implement right away.

Whether you’re brand new to blogging or are an experienced blogger who’s struggling to find the time to keep up with your schedule — content curation can help.

When you curate content from other sources, you’re able to bring fresh ideas to your audience and save a ton of time in the process.

In some cases, this will mean sharing content that’s already been published and offering your perspective, but this can also mean reaching out to peers and experts in your industry and working with them to curate their ideas.

Here are four examples of how you can use content curation to create blog posts your readers will love.

1. Interview or “ask an expert” posts

Send emails to experts in your field and ask them if you can interview them — either via phone or email. Then send them a list of questions, usually about 3-5 is plenty.

Once you gather a few of these, you can pull them together in one, or even a series of posts. For example, you could write a post where all the experts share their answer to the first question, and then the second post would be all the experts sharing their answers to the second question, and so on.

Alternatively, just pick your favorite bits of learning and advice, and pull them together in a blog post. This could work for any industry, as it provides tons of value, and most likely the people you quote in your article will share your content, as well.

2. Roundup posts

This is a popular form of content curation on lifestyle blogs, but it can really work for any industry. Pick a topic, then do a Google search on that topic.

Pull the top posts that you like the best — that you find most valuable — and put them together in a list on your blog post, linking back to the original sources.

Write an introduction, and bam! You have a great post! This can work seasonally (ie: Top 25 Best Christmas Cookie Recipes), or with hot topics (top news in your industry this week), as well.

3. Top 10 posts

This is a great way to drive more traffic to your blog and remind your readers of some of your older pieces of content. Similar to the roundup above, you can write a compilation post, but this time only use content from your own site.

Don’t have enough content to make a list of 10? Simply make it a smaller list. This could be something as simple as a list of the top most trafficked posts on your blog, or they could all be related to a specific topic.

4. Infographics

One method that has been really successful for me on my blog is sharing a curated infographic.

I keep a board of infographics on Pinterest, and once a week or so, I go through it, and find one that I think is good. I then write a short post about the content of the infographic, and offer some tips, paste in the infographic, credit the original source, and voila! blog post done.

As you can see, using curated content to fuel your blog posts doesn’t need to be a time consuming process, and can actually be a lot of fun.

But what can you do if you’ve never taken the time to collect and share content for your audience?

One of my favorite places to start is on Twitter.

Twitter has a wealth of valuable content for any industry or audience imaginable. You can find popular content that’s being shared and discussed. You can also find people within your industry who share great content and might even be willing to participate in an interview to share their ideas.

Here are a few ways I use Twitter to find content to share on my blog.

  • Seek out industry experts, follow, and subscribe: Twitter Search is a great tool for finding leaders in your industry. Search for terms that are relevant to your industry to see who is sharing content or talking about topics related to your business. Once you find them, make sure to follow and subscribe to their blogs.
  • Create or subscribe to Twitter lists: Twitter lists are fantastic for content curation. Once you find some “Twitterers” you really like, that share great, valuable content, pull them together in a list. Check in with this list daily, retweet their content, and look for the resources you’d like to curate for your blog. This is also a great way to find people you’d like to interview for upcoming blog posts.
  • Favorite tweets for later sharing: Use the “favorite” button on Twitter to bookmark tweets you want to come back to later for possible shares.

What’s next?

Twitter is just one of the ways you can curate content and ideas from your audience. Next month, I’ll share other examples of tools you can use to curate content, and help you set up systems to make curation a snap!

About the author: Rebecca Coleman is a blogger and social media marketing strategist. She teaches classes in social media marketing at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver, BC. She loves Constant Contact, and just started a curated monthly email called Blogging Mastery, where she gathers the best articles on blogging from around the web every month. You can sign up for it here.

This is the second in a series of six guest posts I am writing for Constant Contact on Content Curation versus Content Creation.

Today, we look at content curation: what is it, and which social networks work best for curating content.

Really simply, success on social media boils down to putting out high-quality content in a consistent manner.

Your followers come to appreciate your consistency and value your content, and this creates a trusting relationship.

They begin to look at you as an “expert,” and that has some pretty great rewards. It’s the hinge on which all business transactions take place.

The problem with creating content all the time, however, is that it’s incredibly time consuming. Additionally, even if you had the time, you may not have the inspiration, or ideas, to create content multiple times per day on multiple channels.

That’s where content curation can save your life.

Becoming a content curator is a bit of work up front, but once you have a system in place, it can save you tons of time. You’ll be able to curate content and share it with your followers in only a few minutes a day. I’ll show you how in a future post.

But for now, let’s look at which social media networks lend themselves best to curating content.

Remember: when you’re curating content, make sure it’s related to your brand. For example, if you are an accountant that specializes in small businesses, any hints or tips you can find about taxes, accounting, or small business practices is fair game to share. You’d want to stay away from, say fitness tips and recipes, as those are not related to your brand.

Twitter

Twitter is my #1 content curation tool. Facebook posts have a lifespan of a few hours, but Tweets have a lifespan of only a few minutes. I recommend to beginners that they tweet about three times a day, morning, noon and night.  However, more advanced users can tweet much more, and still get away with it.

These days, on average, I tweet about 17 times a day. Some of those are @replies and conversations, some are tweets about content I’ve created, like blog posts, but usually around 5 tweets per day are curated tweets — ones I’ve shared from reliable sources that I follow.

Tip: I use Hootsuite’s Syndicator and their auto scheduling feature to streamline this process.

Facebook

Now that organic reach has become so low on Facebook pages (less than 10 percent), many people are posting more often to their pages in an attempt to get better numbers.

I love the Facebook scheduling tool. You can sit down and schedule up an entire week’s worth of posts in one sitting. I recommend at least one post per day on Facebook, but if you do multiple posts (say, 3 a day), make sure you schedule them to go out at different times of the day.

And don’t forget to use visuals and video — they are doing really well right now. Check out Post Planner — lots of great content here, and you can schedule it to Facebook from right inside Post Planner.

Email Newsletters & Blogs

One of my favorite examples of this is Mari Smith’s The Social Scoop. Every week, I get an email from her with 3 really great articles about social media. I immediately tweet them and share them on Facebook, because I know they are going to be good.

I even started a similar e-newsletter, using Constant Contact, called Blogging Mastery.

There are also plenty of industry websites and blogs that publish weekly digests of their favorite blog posts and articles which you can use to find content that’s popular in your industry.

How could you apply this idea to your business? Well, to go back to our accountant example, you could send a monthly e-newsletter to your clients with several great articles or resources that include tips about small business or accounting. Make your content so great that they can’t wait to see your email in their inbox every month!

Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the top curation tools. Pinterest allows you to create “boards,” to which you can “pin” or bookmark, blog posts, articles, and resources to which you want to come back to later.

But unlike browser bookmarking, Pinterest is public, people can re-pin your stuff, and it has the potential to go viral. Our accountant could create boards for “Tax time,” “Savings,” “Small Business Hacks,” or “Retirement.” They could then pin to these boards, any articles that they know will be useful. Lastly, they can revisit these articles when they need content to share on their other networks, like Facebook and Twitter.

YouTube

While many people still think of YouTube as being mostly for cat videos, there is also a ton of great content on here. You’ll find a ton of tutorials here, and you can create playlists of this content on your own account. So, our accountant, for example, could curate a list of videos that teach Excel shortcuts and hacks, for example.

Now that we’ve had a look at which social networks work best for content curation, next month, we’ll look at some of the tools you can use to curate content.

What’s your favorite network for content curation?  Share in the comments below.

About the author: Rebecca Coleman is a blogger and social media marketing strategist. She teaches classes in social media marketing at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver, BC. She loves Constant Contact, and just started a curated monthly email called Blogging Mastery, where she gathers the best articles on blogging from around the web every month. You can sign up for it here.

Welcome to a six-part series of guest posts that I am beyond excited to be writing for the Constant Contact Blog.

Over the next few months, we’ll focus on the topic of Content Creation versus Content Curation.

What are they? What’s the difference between them? And what purpose do they serve?

How can they help you to grow your following and populate your feeds? What are the best practices?

These are all questions we’ll tackle in the course of this series.

But first, let’s start with some basics.

You’ve all heard the expression, “Content is king.” But what does it mean?

When it comes to online marketing, those that have the best content win.

Simply put, people will follow you and subscribe to your email list if you offer good content. Let me give you an example.

I’m a big fan of Mari Smith. She’s my go-to gal when it comes to knowing what’s happening on Facebook (and let’s face it, Facebook is changing on almost a daily basis, so it’s really important to keep up-to-date).

I subscribe to Mari’s weekly e-news. Now, I subscribe to a lot of e-newsletters, to be fair. But Mari’s is different. I have trained my Gmail to have her newsletter come straight into my primary inbox, not to one of the tabs, and every week when I get it, I open it eagerly.

She shares usually three links to blog posts that are always, and I mean always, exceptionally good. I then share those posts with my followings on Facebook and Twitter.

I’m eager and excited every time one of Mari’s emails hits my inbox, because I know the content is always going to be good. It’s been proven again and again. She offers valuable content, and offering that value has garnered her a huge and loyal following, and most recently, a job at Facebook.

Offering valuable content to your followers will get you more followers because people will be liking and sharing your content. It gives you social proof in the form of retweets and shares. Your followers will recommend you to others (as I just recommended Mari to you).

The problem with offering valuable content is that you can’t always create it.

Let’s face it, you’re just one person. What are the chances that you’ll come up with solid gold content from your head every day of the week? Unless you’re a best-selling author like Seth Godin, I’m guessing the chances of this happening are pretty small.

However, you can come up with great content sometimes — like maybe a couple of times a week. But you can’t just fill your Facebook feeds a couple of times a week. A steady stream of posts is the way to go. So, to fill in the holes on days when you don’t have original content, you can use content curation instead.

Content curation, while not original content that comes from your head, is still incredibly valuable.

You see, curation means you have done the work for your followers. You might follow hundreds of blogs, but you pick out the very best posts to share with your audience. You’ve saved them time and energy, and that’s incredibly valuable.

In future posts, we’ll get deeper into these topics. We’ll look at, for example, what the best networks are for content creation and content curation. We’ll look at best practices, and I’ll share some inside tips and tricks to make your curation easier and faster.

Takeaway:

Think about your own online presence.

Maybe you have a Facebook Page, maybe you tweet, or you’re on Instagram. Hopefully you’re using email to stay in touch with your audience and have a newsletter that you send out on a regular basis.

Think about each one of those channels from a curation versus creation point of view. Are there social media channels where you do more of one than the other? And if, for example, you primarily lean towards content creation, say on Facebook, can you think of a way that you can integrate more curation into your feed?

Look for resources that your audience will find interesting, and try content curation for yourself. If you want to learn more about how I use content curation, subscribe to my monthly Blogging Mastery email. I’ll compile some of my favorite articles on blogging and share them with you every month. You can sign up for it here.

Until next time, happy curating and creating!

Let us know your content creation and curation questions in the comments—we’re here to help.

About the author: Rebecca Coleman is a blogger and social media marketing strategist. She teaches classes in social media marketing at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver, BC. She loves Constant Contact, and just started a curated monthly email called Blogging Mastery, where she gathers the best articles on blogging from around the web every month. You can sign up for it here.

You know building awareness for your business is important.

But how do you stand out and actually get the attention you need to reach new customers and generate new opportunities?

This was the dilemma faced by Davidson & Company, LLP, a full-service accounting firm located in downtown Vancouver.

“One of our taglines is that ‘We’re not your typical accounting firm’” explains Bahar Saadat, client relations & marketing manager at Davidson & Co. “Traditionally, accountants have a reputation for being boring ‘bean counters’ but we want to show people that we have personality, and that we have real people that are great to work with.”

For Davidson & Co, building awareness means having a way to stay top-of-mind with existing clients, and being able to reach potential clients in the process.

For the last two years, the firm’s best tool for reaching these audiences been email marketing from Constant Contact.

“We started with email marketing to communicate and share industry updates with our existing clients,” Bahar explains. “But it’s really grown into one of our best drivers for brand awareness. We’re noticing more people talking about our business, and we have more people showing up at our events.”

If you’ve been struggling to get the reach you’re looking for, email marketing can help. Consider these four tips from Davidson & Co to help you get started:

1. Ask for permission

Growing an email list can take some time, but as Bahar has discovered, it’s better to collect email addresses the right way, rather than trying to take shortcuts.

“We’re careful to only add people to our list that we’ve met and have an existing business relationship with,” Bahar explains. “When you let people know what they’re going to receive — for us that includes information about our events and industry news— people are very willing to sign up.”

Getting permission has proven to be particularly important for Davidson & Co, following the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), which went into effect on July 1, 2014. The legislation introduced new requirements for businesses to obtain consent before sending marketing messages.

“I know there were a lot of business that were worried about CASL, but for us it really hasn’t been a problem at all,” Bahar explains. “We reached out to our audience to let them know that we were aware of it, and gave them the option to update their subscription and an overwhelming number of people said they wanted to keep hearing from us which was great.”

CASL Constant Contact Finance

2. Put your audience first

Asking permission will get people onto your list, but once they’ve signed up it’s your responsibility to provide something of value.

With an average open rate higher than 50 percent, Bahar has found that one of the best ways to provide that value is to start with her audience and understand what they’re most interested in receiving.

“It’s all about providing something that’s relevant to them and promotes engagement,” Bahar explains. “When we started out, we were just really sharing a graphic with a short message or announcement, but over time we’ve paid attention to what resonated and began to introduce more and more.”

The firm recently used audience feedback to tweak their strategy and make video a central part of their marketing strategy.

“We thought video would be a fun way to humanize our firm and show the people behind the scenes,” Bahar explains. “It really took off, even to the point where we are running into clients and they are telling us how much they enjoyed a video we sent out.”

The firm has also sent an online survey to a segment of their client base to learn more about what they’re interested in receiving.

Constant Contact Email Template Finance

3. Share your knowledge

You’ll get more people opening your emails when you shift your focus to providing content that’s interesting to your subscribers — which is a great first step towards email marketing success.

The next step is to understand what type of content would get people to take an additional action.

For Davidson & Co, that means sharing helpful advice and offering the chance to learn more at in-person events.

“In the past, we had relied on print invitations to promote our events and that made it difficult for people to share the events and invite other people,” Bahar explains. “With email, we have people who open and read our invitations but also share them with others. It’s a good sign when we’re meeting new people at our events that we didn’t send an invitation to. Email has played a big part in that.”

4. Be consistent

Consistency is important — both in the look and feel of your messages, and in the frequency that you communicate with your audience.

Email templates make it easy to create professional-looking messages that can be customized to match your brand.

“We put a lot of thought into how we put our marketing together because we want people to get to know our business,” Bahar explains. “Our goal is to really humanize our business, so each message that goes out will have a video or photos of our staff or clients.”

They use that same consistency when deciding what time and how often to send to their audience.

“In an industry like ours, it can sometimes take a few years before you actually convert a new client,” Bahar explains. “So, we really focus on being consistent and building the relationship anyway we can.”

Each month, Bahar and her staff put together an outreach plan that aligns with industry activities and events. With a list of over 3,300 contacts, Davidson & Co has built an audience of people who care about their business and look forward to hearing from them each month.

This has resulted in new business opportunities, increased referrals, and greater brand awareness for their firm.

“We all know accountants love numbers, and with email the numbers don’t lie,” Bahar explains. “It’s been the most effective tool for delivering our message.”

Put your email marketing strategy into action.

Whether you offer services to other businesses, like Davidson & Co, or want a better way to build relationships with customers, email marketing can help.

Get started today. Start your free 60-day trial of Constant Contact.

Has email marketing helped your business build brand awareness? We’d love to hear from you. Share your story in the comments below. 

Whether you’re onstage performing for a full house or at your desk about to send out your latest email newsletter, you want to make sure your audience is engaged.

This is a challenge the Dominelli School of Music tackles every single day.

Based in Edmonton, Alberta, the school offers a variety of private and group lessons, as well as a fine arts preschool and band program. “We see ourselves as more than a music studio,” says community manager, Cynthia Lee. “We like to see ourselves as a community.”

For the Dominelli School of Music, email marketing ensures that their audience is engaged even when they’re away from the school.

“We’ve been using email marketing since the beginning,” Cynthia says. “It’s been really important for keeping our customers engaged. It helps us get the word out about news and events, and build brand loyalty. It also really makes our customers feel like they matter.”

Since getting started with email marketing in July 2014, Cynthia has learned a lot about what type of emails resonate with their audience and how to engage readers with a variety of content.

Let’s look at 5 types of emails the Dominelli School of Music sends to connect with their customers:

1. Event highlights

With a busy schedule of performances each month, the school sends out monthly newsletters to keep their audience up-to-date. This promotion helps fill seats at events, and also makes the performers feel special and appreciated.

“The newsletters help us let the parents know what we’re doing, like recitals and new programs we have available. It’s a really great way to keep in touch with our families,” says Cynthia. “They like to know what’s going on in the studio and to feel informed.”

To make sure the emails can be read easily on mobile devices as well as a desktop, the school uses a single column mobile-friendly template. Each message also features their logo prominently at the top, incorporates their school colors, and links off to their website and social media channels.

2. Student features

To make their newsletters feel even more personal, the Dominelli Music School likes to put their students front and center in the emails they send out.

“We do a Student of the Month, and select one of our students to highlight and do a short interview with,” says Cynthia.

Putting their students first and highlighting individuals who are going above and beyond, motivates other students to do their best and strengthens their involvement. Adding an interview component gives the student the chance to feel like the star and share their unique perspective and personality.

Dominelli student of the month

3. First looks

One of the main benefits of joining the mailing list for the Dominelli School of Music is that these contacts are often the first to know about new programs and offers.

This not only helps the mailing list feel in-the-know, but also provides valuable business opportunities and results for the school as well. This was something Cynthia recently realized while promoting the school’s new band program.

“We’ve seen results come from receiving registration for new classes,” Cynthia explains. “We’re in the process of launching a new band program, and so we put a feature in our newsletter — about the program, why it’s important, and how you can join. After the newsletter went out, we had a lot of students expressing interest and registering right away. It’s been a great way to expand our program.”

4. Exclusive promotions

Beyond timely updates, the school likes to reward its most loyal audience members by sending special offers. These offers are another great incentive for members to join the mailing list so they won’t miss out on special deals.

One example is the recent holiday promotion, where the school offered a 50 percent discount for all classes. This email resulted in a large increase in class registration, and provided great value for the schools loyal customer base.

Dominelli romotion email

5. Regular surveys

In addition to sending regular messages out, the schools works to ensure their emails are providing avenues for two-way communication. One of the best ways to get their mailing list to respond is with an online survey.

“We want to make sure our families are enjoying their experience, so we send out a couple surveys each year — once a semester, one in September and one in January.  We ask about their experience, what we can improve on, what they’re enjoying about their lessons. And we found that’s a really great way to get feedback,” says Cynthia.

Cynthia can create, send, and track results for online surveys right within her Constant Contact account. By taking the time to quickly check in and asking the right questions, the school emphasizes how much they value their audience’s opinions and show their dedication to providing the best experience possible for their community.

Using a combination of these 5 types of emails builds customer loyalty and brings the school results that they can be proud of.

Each email the school sends is received by an enthusiastic audience that looks forward to an encore each month. The Dominelli School consistently sees open rates that are higher than their industry average — and more importantly — they are driving action and engagement with each message they send out.

“Our audience opens our newsletters because they know that it will contain information that’s important to them.  We try to keep our content as relevant as we can, and I think that plays a big role in our success,” says Cynthia.

Try using one of these 5 ideas in your next email campaign!

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Not a Constant Contact customer? Start a free 60-day trial today.

Interested in higher education marketing? Find higher education marketing ideas here.

Starting a small business is no small feat; especially when you’re working with a small audience.

Setting up shop in Collingwood, Ontario — a small town situated in Southern Georgian Bay — Dan Plouffe and Julie Card wanted to find a way to help small businesses connect with their local customer base.

With this idea in mind, they started www.mycollingwood.ca, an online portal where local businesses are featured through online listings and event announcements.

Over the last decade, Dan and Julie have built the site into a premier destination for people to find the latest news from their favorite local businesses.

Success didn’t happen overnight — but with the right tools, Dan and Julie were able to build a dedicated audience and grow a successful business.

Here’s a closer look at how they did it.

1. Make it easy for people to sign up

Before starting mycollingwood, Dan had been using Constant Contact at an advertising agency. “It was a no brainer for us to be using Constant Contact right from the start to build our audience,” Julie says. “We already knew it was a really robust and affordable solution.”

Dan and Julie started by creating an online sign-up form for people to opt-in to the mycollingwood email list. They then added a link to the form on the mycollingwood website, making it easy for new visitors to sign up.

“At first we only had a sign-up form on our website, but once we realized how well it worked for us we’ve added it to our social media sites and pretty much anywhere else we can possibly add it,” explains Dan.

By promoting their newsletter on their social media sites and website, they have grown their list to over 4,000 contacts.

2. Offer your audience something of value

To spark consumer interest, Dan and Julie hold a weekly special on their site — an offer they call Double Dollars.

Every Wednesday, the site features half-off gift certificates to local businesses. Before the deals are available for purchase, Dan and Julie send out a preview email to let consumers know which businesses will be featured the next day.

“We’ve been doing the Double Dollars offer every week since 2007,” Dan explains. “And every single week we see the offers sell out within a couple minutes of being posted. The response is unbelievable!”

By offering something their audience finds valuable, Dan and Julie maintain a high open rate that averages 40 percent. Their click-through rate is also way above industry average, reaching over 20 percent.

3. Use reports to tweak your strategy

Even with impressive email results, Dan and Julie like to check back with their email reports to see where they can improve.

“When we send out our monthly newsletter, we send out updates on things like new business openings,” says Julie. “One thing we’ve noticed is that dinning and food listings get three times the amount of engagement as other posts.”

Julie and Dan keep track of their open and click-through rates to see which contacts are most engaged and what topics are generating the most interest. “We have a really good understanding of our audience, which helps us shape our content,” Julie says.

“We can even look at who read specific posts and target them with future messages about a particular topic,” Dan adds.

4. Combine the power of email and social media

As their business continued to expand, Julie and Dan wanted to explore how social media could play a bigger role in their marketing efforts.

Knowing they had developed a loyal following on Facebook, they decided to offer a reward to their fans and grow their mailing list.

“We were looking for ways to do a social campaign to see what kind of lift we could get,” says Julie. “Increasing our email database was our biggest goal.”

To spark interest Julie and Dan ran a special sweepstakes on their Facebook Page for a $50 gift certificate. The results were better than they ever suspected.

“We had an overwhelming success with 373 new sign-ups . Our page received 139 new Facebook Likes as well,” Dan says. “I thought that was really significant for just a week-long sweepstakes. We’re eager to try out another promotion again soon.”

In total, the offer was shared 44 times and resulted in almost 700 page visits!

5. Rely on quality support

Running a fast-paced business means Dan and Julie don’t have time to work through their technical questions on their own.

Even as experienced users, they are glad they can call up Constant Contact whenever they have any questions.

“I recently had some white space in a newsletter I couldn’t get rid of,” Dan recalls. “So I called customer support and they explained the image needed to be resized and the issue was cleared up immediately. A great thing about Constant Contact is if you’re having a problem, you can just pick up the phone and someone will solve your problem in a matter of minutes.”

For Dan and Julie, their small town is their strength.

“We’re in rural North America with a very small audience. But that just means we have to get creative,” Dan says.

Creating an online portal where businesses and consumers can connect, and keeping consumers engaged with valuable information and deals, Dan and Julie have made their website one of the most visited sites in town.

Think about the ways you can do more to connect with your community. Whether you’re brand new to email marketing, or looking for some ways to improve, choose one of Dan and Julie’s tips to bring into your own strategy.

Use Constant Contact to start growing your business today. Start your free 60-day trial.

Already a Constant Contact customer? Log in now to create your next campaign.

What is CASL?

CASL is the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation that went into effect on July 1, 2014.

The legislation applies to anyone who makes use of commercial electronic messages. This means if you have an email address in your email marketing campaign that you suspect belongs to a Canadian, or if anyone opens your email in Canada, this law is applicable even if your business is based in the U.S. or any other country outside of Canada.

We received a ton of questions from Canadian and U.S. businesses, wondering how the new legislation applies to them and what they should be doing to be compliant.

Here are answers to 10 of the most frequently asked CASL questions:

1. Can you explain the three year grace period? Do we have three years from July 1st 2014 to obtain express consent?

The three year grace period that is outlined in CASL has now passed. By now, everyone is expected to be CASL compliant.

Here’s a closer look at the difference between implied and express consent.

2. Does Constant Contact be providing some kind of template we can send to our contacts to get express consent?

Yes. We have developed a template that can be used to easily obtain reconfirmation from existing implied consent contacts.

We’ve created a fully-editable email template that you can customize and send to your email contacts. It’s a fast, easy way for you to gain express consent.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Log in to your account and select the “Confirm Subscription” template from among the templates.
  2. Add your logo and business information to the email.
  3. Send the email to your contacts.
  4. Any contact who clicks on the link in the CASL template will immediately be documented as “express consent.”

Log in to access the template for Constant Contact Email Marketing Customers & Trialers

Log in to access the template for Constant Contact Toolkit Customers & Trialers

We have also made a number of other updates, to help our customers prepare for CASL.

3. We have a list of contacts that we’ve been sending to for years. We’ve always followed the right best practices and include an unsubscribe link in every email? What do I need to do to get express consent?

Because the new Canadian Legislation has introduced new requirements for express consent, you will still need to have your existing Canadian contacts reconfirm their subscription.

We recommend sending a dedicated email to your Canadian contacts asking them to confirm their opt-in status by clicking a link within our CASL email template. When a contact clicks on the opt-in link in the email the contact will be documented as express consent by Constant Contact.

You’ll be able to track and document express consent with Constant Contact by exporting your contacts as .csv file. In this file you’ll be able to view the following information about your contacts:

  • Status (active/removed/unsubscribed/confirmed/awaiting confirmation)
  • Date of confirmed opt-in (if used)
  • Source (added by you/website sign-up form/third-party integration)
  • Permission status (express vs. implied)

4. If someone requests information through a form on our website and we follow up with them with a response, what do we have to do to continue mailing to them in the future?

With Constant Contact sign up forms, every new contact you add to your list is compliant with CASL.

If you are using a third-party form on your website, there is important information that will need to be listed on the form for it to qualify as express consent, under CASL.

This includes:

  • Clear and obvious language asking for permission to send future messages
  • Identification of your name, business, or organization
  • Valid mailing address and either a telephone number, email address, or web address
  • Indication that people will have the ability to easily unsubscribe at any time

5. I currently work out of a home office and, for privacy reasons, do not want to put a home address on my sign-up form. Is there any way to work around this?

If you’re unable to put your home address on your sign-up form, you can set up a PO Box for your business. This is an affordable solution that will keep you in compliance with CASL, and can also be used for other business-related mailings.

6. I attend many networking events, and collect business cards from people interested in working with me. I use these cards to add contacts to my list. Do I have consent to email these people?

Under the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, business cards can be used to document express consent. For this reason, you’ll want to save all of the business cards you collect, even after that contact is added to your list. We also recommend making a note of when you collected the card and the name of the event you were attending.

While business cards can be used to document consent, you also need to make sure you’re asking permission before adding someone to your list. You can ask someone face-to-face to receive consent verbally. You can also follow up with a personal email, asking them to join your list with a link to your website sign-up form.

Remember that networking events are a great opportunity to build new relationships for your business; don’t put those relationships at risk by adding someone to your list without their permission.

7. We are an association that regularly communicates with members through email. It sounds like we only have implied consent. Are we required to get express consent from everyone individually?

Under CASL, implied consent will be valid for as long as that person is a member of your organization. If a current member leaves but still has interest in receiving updates from your organization, you will have two years from the date they leave to obtain express consent.

8. Can I send commercial emails to my LinkedIn connections?

Constant Contact does not recommend adding any social media connections to your contact list without obtaining proper consent. Doing so could put you at risk of violating CASL and damaging the relationships you have worked to build on social media.

Instead, look for opportunities to leverage your website sign-up form to encourage fans, followers, and connections to sign up.

For questions specific to how CASL applies to your LinkedIn connections, we would recommend speaking to a lawyer or contacting LinkedIn for additional information.

9. We are a Canadian company that sends emails to contacts in Canada and the US. Does CASL impact all of our contacts, or just those with .ca addresses?

The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation is intended to protect electronic commerce in Canada. As a result, CASL applies to all commercial emails sent to Canadian contacts.

For contacts located in the US, you will need to make sure you’re in compliance with the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, or CAN-SPAM Act.

Because managing consent for these different types of contacts can be confusing, time consuming, and potentially put your business at risk, it’s a good practice to maintain express consent for all contacts.

This will ensure you have the permission you need to email your entire list with confidence.

10. I’ve seen a number of examples of businesses offering an incentive for people to sign up (contests, free giveaways, downloads, etc.) With CASL, are we still able to offer an incentive for people to sign up? Is this express or implied consent?

Contests, exclusive downloads, and other incentives can be an effective way to grow your email list.

If you’re using another third-party app, it’s important to make sure that sign-up forms that are used contain the proper language and details that are outlined in CASL. You also need to ensure that contacts have the option to easily opt-out in the future.

We do not recommend using incentives just as a means to obtain express consent. Instead, consider using any of the tools for obtaining consent available in Constant Contact.

We’ve put together a number of free resources to help your business prepare for CASL. Visit the CASL resource page.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 30, 2014. It was updated on September 25, 2019 for relevance and accuracy.