I've referred to the new Anti-Spam legislation that's about to drop July 1 in an earlier post. While that post included legal links for companies, I've held back back with recommendations because each company needs its own content strategy. No two are alike so one size/solution won't fit all.
But as I talk about it with business consultants, there are some truths that are becoming clear to me:
This legislation will affect big companies and small ones. I'm most worried about the small companies and startups who never have enough money to put against marketing and communications, which are generally handled by a founder or an intern.
With easy-to-use services like Constant Contact and MailChimp, email marketing has been the simplest way to manage lists and connect with customers – or users. While website signups go to lists for email campaigns, the new regulations specify that signups will need a second, specific opt-in to be included on an email list. From a behavioural POV, I suspect lists are going to dry up if companies actually do go through the steps required by the legislation.
At first I thought the solution was in crafting super-friendly and inviting language for signups and opt-ins. But there are limitations to what companies or individuals (yes!) can say in emails – as I noted in my earlier post with the legal links, it's complicated but the short and simple version is, none of us can be perceived as selling anything unless there's been an opt-in.
My Eureka! moment came when I realized the shortcut for companies to deal with the confusing law is to just skip email and ramp up social presence so individuals and companies have engaged communities on the social platforms and demonstrate where they fit into their target audiences' lives to offer value. You see, on social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube (for instance), following a person or a brand isn't perceived as an 'opt in', though technically it is. Social media by nature is inviting, more engaging, and when there's too much 'sell' or self-promotion, people turn away, just as they did already with most of the kind of email marketing that needs to be opted in to.
Email marketing never has been the best way to sell or cultivate relationships anyway. Social media is brilliant for relationship building, cultivating brand presence, letting people know what you're doing, creating influence, demonstrating thought leadership, sharing content and promoting partnerships. The easiest thing for companies to do to manage the opt-in aspect of the new Anti-Spam law is just to fully embrace social media. It means a move away from email and 'push' marketing to inbound marketing and content strategies that are more engaging and meaningful.
I touched on LinkedIn's value for companies in an earlier post and will try to write more about content strategies that companies and individuals can develop for themselves.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every great brand that's making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.