Creating Dynamic Newsletters: Metrics, CAN-SPAM, and CASL
Hello everyone – welcome to today’s Digitize Your Firm webinar! Today we’re going to dig into creating dynamic newsletter, the metrics you should track from these newsletters and making sure you are CASL and CAN-SPAM compliant when you send them out.
As with all Digitize Your Firm webinars, this will be recorded for later playback if you wanted extra time with a certain section or for listening on the go. In the interest of time, we’ll be hitting all the key points that lead to the completion of his objectives, but for a deeper look we encourage you to review our past webinars which can be access from the webinar schedule on the Digitize Your Firm page.
Now, let’s dig in!
For today’s webinar, we’re going to talk about the art of creating the perfect newsletter, the right metrics to track to ensure it is effective and of course, refresh ourselves our CAN-SPAM and CASL. Now, let’s talk newsletters…
If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much a nice newsletter is worth!
Newsletters are essential for many organizations to keep stakeholders, clients, and customers both internally and externally informed. Whether you’re letting your customer base know about upcoming deals or sending a weekly internal newsletter, it should draw in your audience.
But just how do you make a newsletter that stands out? we have some advice if you’re looking to build one from scratch.
Create an engaging subject line that would make someone want to read the newsletter. Lines such as “Weekend Only Sale on Knit Tops” and “5 Simple Tricks to Improve Your Marketing Campaign” will go over better than “Sale This Week, Look Inside For Info” or “Tricks to Help Your Campaigns.” Be specific and experiment with different subjects to see which result in the most opens.
A/B Split Testing
Not sure if your content is giving you the results you want? Through A/B split testing, send audiences different versions of content to see which resonates more. This tactic is a fantastic way to see how you could improve your current template and discover the topics or information that your stakeholders find most appealing.
Keep your branding cohesive and use the same colors, fonts, and logos found on your company website or personal materials. If your brand is bright orange with a white Tahoma font, make sure that carries over into your newsletter by bolding titles with your branding colors and keeping the font the same throughout.
Imagine looking at a poster and seeing text squished between the images. Think about the last document you say that was just a wall of text without any pictures or graphics at all. Neither of these sound very appealing, do they? When it comes to newsletter, you must perform a balancing act between content and imagery. Aim to pre-select stories you want to include graphics for and ensure that the graphics themselves they relate to the article’s content and is aesthetically pleasing.
Article Titles & Content
You may have heard it more times than you can count, but content is king. Make sure your titles and writing are clear and concise. Don’t be afraid to put all of your text into the newsletter and begin by cutting words or phrases that are not adding to the piece such as adverbs like “very.”
Call to Action
Make sure your call to actions are prominent in both writing and design. Keep it short and have it stand out by putting it at the bottom of a story, bolding the words, and having an eye-catching color. If you are looking for the reader to perform an action online, don’t forget to link to it.
Buttons vs Hyperlinks
Speaking of hyperlinks and calls to action – have you considered using buttons? While hyperlinks are fantastic to link via words to outside resources, buttons provide a more eye-catching way to encourage your audience to engage with your content. Essentially, a button is a graphic that you create or import that links to outside resources, like a website, social media account or event page. If you’re linking to supporting statistics, a hyperlink may be a good way to go but if you’re seeking to increase visitors to your website or RSVP to an event, a button will make your call to action stand out.
This element is key – make sure you are staying CASL and CAN-SPAM compliant by providing company information such as your postal address, phone number, and most importantly an unsubscribe button. If you’re looking to drive more traffic to social pages, try adding buttons that lead to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other channel you may have so your readers have more options to contact you.
Newsletter and email metrics to track
When we’re talking about newsletter metrics, there isn’t much different than email metrics. If you think all the week day to week 5 and the email “Tracking your success,” you’ll remember that we talked about subscribers, unsubscribes, growth rate, open rate, and click rate. All of these same metrics apply to tracking the success of your newsletter.
Here is a list of what you should keep an eye on:
How many people have joined your list? Where did they sign up? Was it through your website? Point of Purchase? Your Facebook Page? This can give you a better idea of where your audience is visiting you. You should also ask what prompted the signup? Did you have a special promotion running? Did you offer a coupon in the latest newsletter? Was it a certain item? Knowing the answer to this question will not only allow you to market your products or services better, but help continue to drive up your subscriber rate.
Are there a lot contacts unsubscribing from your newsletter? Was there a recent change in format that may have prompted unsubscribes? Have you seen a spike or decline in unsubscribes? Has there been a change in sending frequency? These questions are the first you should ask when you see a severe increase in your unsubscribe rate. While one or two unsubscribes per email can be normal, if you are seeing 10 or 20 – it may be time to look at changing your format, design, content or all three.
If you’re looking to build your subscriber base as part of quarterly or yearly goals, we’ve got the equation for you. To calculate your growth rate, subtract your unsubscribes from your new subscribers divided by your total list size. (New subscribers – unsubscribes / total list size). Keeping track of the increase or decrease of this percentage to ensure you’re hitting your goals.
This rate represents who is opening the emails you send. Ask yourself: how many people opened my newsletter? Is it more or less than my last newsletter? Does it tend to be high or low? If there has been a large difference in the open rate between two different emails, study the format and content to better understand what your audience may be looking for.
Just as it sounds, your click rate lets you know who is clicking the links in your email. This number can differ greatly from newsletter to newsletter based on how many links there are. You should also keep an eye out for what links are being clicked most – those are shining beacons of what your contacts are most interested in.
This little refresher should help you easily track the success of your next newsletter – though it should be said that you may not get these metrics from basic email platforms like Outlook and Gmail. Look into investing into an email marketing platform that can provide this data to you.
Are there any other metrics you’d like to track? Let us know! Now that we’ve discussed how to make a great newsletter and how to track its metrics, lets talk about compliancy.
Let’s talk compliancy
On July 1, 2014, a new legislation called CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation) will come into effect. If your business is not prepared, you could face penalties of up to $10 million, so you should make sure CASL compliance is high on your list of priorities. The legislation pertains to any commercial electronic messaging as well as installation of computer programs. Review the new legislation to make sure that your business is anti-spam compliant.
Obtain Opt-In Consent Before You Send
Before you send commercial messages, you need to be absolutely sure that each of your contacts has opted in to receive electronic messages from you. For CASL compliance, you need to obtain opt-in consent before July 1. Simply send a mass message to your contacts asking them to opt-in. If any of your contacts do not opt-in, you must remove them from your sending lists.
Asking for opt-in consent helps to clean your lists anyway, as it gets rid of old or inactive contacts who are no longer opening or responding to your messages. This process, in addition to focusing on CASL compliance will actually improve your delivery rates and weed out any email addresses which can act as spam traps.
If you are sending to contacts who do not want to receive your messages, you are wasting time and money and increasing the probability that you will be reported as a spammer.
Two Kinds of Consent
In general, you need to obtain opt-in consent from each contact. However, there are a few CASL compliance exceptions when you do not require direct opt-in consent.
Express Consent: Express consent refers to a contact who has given you permission to contact them with electronic messages. Contacts can opt-in through an online or physical signup form, over the phone, at the point of sale or by responding to a coupon offer or contest.
The CASL compliance legislation stipulates that you are not allowed to pre-check a consent box on a signup form. For example, if you are creating an online signup form, you cannot default the checkbox to be pre-checked on an item such as “I agree to receive emails from Company XYZ.” The customer must check the box on their own.
Implied Consent: Implied consent is less direct but is still acceptable under the CASL legislation. This refers to a contact for whom it is reasonable to believe that you have permission to send messages. Implied consent is based on you having a prior business relationship with the contact. To see if your contacts may qualify for implied consent, review the CASL exceptions.
Clearly Identifying Yourself
In order to go along with CASL compliance, you need to identify yourself or your company as the sender. Enter your name or your company name as the sender. Also, do not include information in your message which is false or inaccurate. Using false information to mislead subscribers is prohibited.
Include a Simple Opt-Out Option
Every electronic message that you send needs to have an opt-out mechanism so subscribers can easily take themselves off your contact list if they no longer want to receive messages from you. Most companies focused on CASL compliance just include a link that subscribers can click to remove themselves. This option is simple and keeps customers satisfied.
Do Not Collect Contact Information without Permission
You are not allowed to gather personal contact information. You cannot buy or harvest personal information, and you cannot gather personal information from users’ devices without their permission. Spam marketers (obviously not worried about CASL compliance) frequently harvest information illegally, so make sure you’re not using spam techniques to try to gain a wider audience.
Review the Legislation and Your Own Anti-Spam Policies
In order to make sure that your company is compliant, review CASL in detail and make note of any items that are highly relevant to you. Although most messages that you send require opt-in consent, some messages do not apply. Recall and safety information, messages that confirm a commercial transaction and messages that provide a price quote requested by a customer are all specific exceptions to the legislation.
You should also review electronic messages that you send to make sure they are spam-compliant. Ensure that your staff are up to date with CASL compliance policies and are following them to the letter.
This refers to a American law that establishes compliance requirements for those who send email with the primary purpose of advertising or promoting a commercial product or service. All emails you send out should have:
1. An Automatic unsubscribe link. Our system automatically adds an unsubscribe link to the bottom of every email sent from our system ensuring that there is always a clear, easy to use, and fully functional unsubscribe method included with every email campaign.
2. Postal mailing address attached. Also the sender of the email, (i.e. the person or company noted in the From Label), must display a physical postal address within the content of the message.
To review, let’s go over what we’ve covered today:
1. When it comes to newsletters, there are key features to include: branding, calls-to-actions, concise articles, buttons and more. The sky is truly the limit, and flexing your creativity could serve you well.
2. Next you need to keep an eye on your newsletter metrics – subscriber growth rate, click rate, open rate, unsubscribe rate, all of these will help guide you to success. Remember, using a normal email platform like Outlook or Gmail may not provide you with these stats so consider investing in an email marketing platform. If you want to learn more, check out our past webinar on it through the Weekly Webinar Schedule page.
3. Compliancy is key – not only can it help you better organize your contact list, but also protects your customers. From Opt-ins to easy opt-outs, postal addresses to identification, CAN-SPAM and CASL are there to be adhered to.
That does it for this week, next week we’re going to explore Twitter by asking:
1. What exactly is Twitter?
2. How can I use it?
3. And – what are the best practices surrounding it?
Until then, please put any questions you may have in the chat or feel free to email me at jay – J A Y @ Simplycast.com.
Next week, we’ll be doing a comprehensive review of the past nine weeks. If there is a specific subject you’d like to learn more about or be highlighted, don’t hesitate to let me know.