This year’s Canada Day may have seemed like any other, but it also marked a significant shift in how Canadians communicate and do business online. All law-abiding Canadians will change the way they use email thanks to Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). Aside from creating a sudden flurry of confirmation messages sent to us from the most compliant businesses and organizations, one might ask how this new regulation has really changed anything, when it comes to reducing spam. Because everyone knows that it’s not the people who follow the rules who were the problem in the first place. In fact, CASL puts some pretty onerous requirements on legitimate businesses, without even scratching the underlying sources of spam.
What CASL does do though, is force people to establish legitimate relationships in order to send out commercial messages via email. So perhaps we could turn this regulation inside out as the recipeints of all this commercial electronic messaging (CEM), and see this as an opportunity to become more engaged as Consumers. Perhaps even spurring on some new innovations as a result of any market demands we can generate.
So the key question is, just how can Consumers drive innovation in the market anyhow?
It’s a long-shot, but CASL might compel everyone to use these regulations to also start laying more groundwork for a proper Consumers Republic. One where not only does the pricing-power of online markets shift in favour of the buyer, but where we also start to dictate the terms of engagement for marketing as well. Possibly taking steps towards the type of peer-marketing that some still call “word-of-mouth” advertising. Methods that could open up new forms of affiliate and affinity marketing programs – where we all have a much more active part in what gets marketed and who can benefit from those sales. At the very least, we might have more collective klout in terms of how products and service offerings, get defined, if we can establish better more trusted contact with our providers and retailers.
After all, as marketers are increasingly mining our social networks and habits via Facebook and Google (etc), wouldn’t we rather stay engaged in this process as active participants, rather than just letting all that data get aggregated to turn us into even more mindless Consumers?
Even at this advanced stage of the game there are still lots of new players who’d like to unseat the huge and powerfull incumbents in online marketing and communications. Here in Canada CASL is requiring everyoen to re-think theri methods and strategies consumer-driven communications are just starting to take root, and here in Canada those roots now need to be fully planted and tended to. This could encourage innovators and entrepreneurs to develop new framework and tools to help enact the social and economic changes that are possible with an empowered, informed, and well-networked Consumer Revolution. In these earliest days, though let’s take a look at where some seeds of neo-industrial revolution can be planted. Starting with CASL
Sure you may say that email isn’t as important as social-media, but keep in mind that email is still the first, and most widely used ‘Killer-app” that the internet has ever spawned. No matter how much Facebook, or anyone else can figure out how to intermediate our social interactions. Our email address is still what connects us with all the timely and official notices and communications that underpin all our other online activities. Besides, do we really want to live in a world where Facebook, or maybe Twitter) becomes the passworded gatekeeper to all our other logins, online comments, and social interactions? No. We manage out logins and our internet lives via our email addresses, and everyone knows that our accounts are oppressively overflowing, endlessly incoming streams Those accounts are also spam-magnets, where once we give away our private address, we can never get it back.
This is where CASL, otherwise known as Canada’s latest ineffective attempt at killing spam comes in.
Because, as everyone knows, it’s not the law-abiding citizens that you need to worry about when trying to legislate control over chaos, or regulate industries into being good members of society. Just as gun-laws have little positive effect on criminal behaviour, those who would spam us won’t suddenly change their wicked ways, just because of a stiff fine in Canada. But, this time time legitimate marketers and communicators are the ones that need to change their methods and processes. This is where a crack opens for greater opportunities to come in.
You probably noticed the recent flurry of confirmations from various accounts or mailing-lists that you’re on. These organizations are not jsut following the rules, they’re making sure that you still want to keep hearing from them. Unfortunately, with ‘open-rates’ for emailed messages being ridiculously low, most organizations might need to seriously cut back on their messaging to stay compliant, as most of their contacts remain unconfirmed, and effectively un-usable.
This is temporarily putting Canadian companies at a serious disadvantage when it comes to communicating with us, unless they’re one of those organizations that was following best practices all along.
As for the rest, we can see how the right to communicate and market to Consumers is now a clearly granted privilege, not simply a right to mass-market and blanket us with mediated messages, regardless of what our original intent or interest was to begin with.
CASL isn’t going to suddenly disable the old broadcast models where spam gets continuously sprayed into our Junk boxes, in hope of squirting a few into our Inboxes. But it is going to force Canadian companies to avoid tempting you to use that “Unsubscribe” link by carpet-bombing you with un-focused ads and campaigns. It’s going to force everyone to seriously look at list segmentation, and profile building so that you (hopefully) only see what you want see, and get what you’ll think is truly worthwhile, if not immediately valuable.
By placing some clear requirements around our online communications, the Feds have laid some clear ground-marks will hopefully get used to build better moustraps. The kind of opportunities for innovation that could have a distinctly “Made in Canada” feel to them.
Consider the possibilities of:
- Proxied Identity Providers :
Packaging your online identity to provide easy logins while maintaining your privacy
- White-List Email Providers:
Letting you freely provide your email addresses without the worry of unauthorized use
- Buyers Clubs & Affiliate/Affinity Networks :
To harness the power of Collective Consumerism
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