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Ken Magill

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August in Canada: A Great Time to Kill Your File


By Ken Magill

Hey Canadian email marketers! I have a wonderful summer project for you!

You know how August is always so slow? I know my page views always take a dip and out-of-office replies increase when I send my newsletter in August.

Chances are you experience something similar. Especially in Canada where you spend seven months of every year getting your ass hairs frozen off.

Also, you’re not Europe so even if you have earned four weeks of vacation a year you probably can’t take them all off consecutively and ignore all professional communications the whole time.

So the odds are you’re going to be spending at least some of your time in the office in August. And you know things are going to be slow.

So what better time do a little cleaning? Hmmmm. What should you clean? Your desk? Naaaah. Too small.

I’m thinking bigger here. Much bigger.

I’m thinking August is the perfect time to clean your email file. And by “clean” I mean decimate it. Take that SOB, send a couple messages asking if your subscribers still want to hear from you and get rid of everyone who doesn’t respond.

What? What’s that you’re saying? Re-permissioning your file will trim it by 90 percent? It will destroy the most powerful dollar-for-dollar marketing tactic you have?

But you’ll be left with a list of people who really want to hear from you. Isn’t that what you really want? Isn’t that what every email marketer should really want?

That’s what John Lawford, executive director of Canada’s Public Interest Advocacy Centre, says you should want.

In a recent article on, Lawford said Canada’s anti-spam law will make your business better. After all, who better to assess your business’s future than a so-called consumer advocate?

“It will reduce scattershot marketing, where you have somewhat dubious or older lists and you just keep sending stuff, where you’re not really sure if you have any connection with the consumer really, because you haven’t established it in years,” Lawford said, according to the article.
“It’s not the end of the world. It’ll be fine and the act doesn’t stop you from using email. It just says consumers get to decide whether they want the emails or not … So longer term, I think it’ll be helpful because you’ll have clean lists of people that really want to know about your product or whatever you’re selling.”

The article closed with a final bit of email-marketing wisdom from Lawford:

“There’s no real way to gauge how customers will react to requests for explicit consent, Lawford says, but at least businesses can be prepared. He says it may make a good summertime project, especially if this is a slow period for some companies.”

So you see? Wrecking your email list this summer wasn’t even my idea! It was consumer advocate/email-marketing expert John Lawford’s!

Never mind that Canada’s anti-spam law has been delayed repeatedly for three years and the folks who are claiming it will finally go into force this fall may be exhibiting wishful thinking.

Never mind that you and others in your company took 15 years to build your email file and that it’s your best-performing business asset. And never mind that the vast majority of any company’s regular customers are disengaged with the brand and won’t respond to a prompt for permission.

Lastly, never mind that any company that attempted to pitch only people who really wanted to hear from it would be out of business faster than you can say: “Canada’s is the most misguided anti-spam law in the world.”

Go ahead. Re-permission your email list before the law even goes into effect. Wreck it. It’ll be a fun summer project.


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