The Canada Anti-Spam Law (CASL) reached its 2nd anniversary recently, and we take an in-depth look at how marketing has changed in the past couple of years.
With the advent of the internet, we’ve seen a constant and inevitable rise of internet media against the backdrop of various marketing techniques. At one point, phones were the number one way of reaching people—it was at once the fastest method of communication. Then came email. When I was searching for jobs many, many years ago while in university, the number of call centre jobs available and advertised seem to outweigh job market. But I was never comfortable with the idea of cold calling people to solicit services. And many people aren’t. But cold calling has remained a steady mode of marketing—until CASL came up like a wall.
CASL put its foot down on cold calling, or more specifically, spam. Within the folds of its solemn dictum, it is illegal to send a commercial electronic message to someone without their consent. We wrote about CASL when it just took effect in this post.
Many businesses were concerned, to say the least: tele(phone)marketing was often their prime source of leads and revenue; now they had to reconfigure their business strategy or go bust. Indeed, this is what happened to one Toronto company that was the #1 business in its niche.
Quite some years ago, I was actually an employee at this company, working within the busy marketing department as a successful SEO operator and content writer. On the floor below us was the sales team—all responsible for the telemarketing aspect of the business. Together, our two departments made for a very successful business. We outpaced our competition by miles! Indeed, we celebrated weekly with pizza, cake, and BBQs.
Then somehow, disaster began to creep in. Sales plummeted. Our telemarketing team appeared out of their individual offices at brief intervals with haunted looks on their faces as they considered their commissions, worried about how they would be paying that months mortgage on just their low base salary. They were not getting sales.
Our CEO put the pressure on them. Demanded blood, sweat, and tears. That’s not to say that he wasn’t any less stern with the marketing team. But rather, any business we were getting was through our website and pay-per-click campaigns. We were still, somehow, doing something right.
But here is the clincher: telemarketing ground to a halt even before CASL took effect. This signals an important change in the market, if not the world in general. Everyone was going online.
Online marketing expounds on this change. For the consumer, there was a freedom in being able to independently and autonomously decide in their own time and place what they want to look at and how they wanted to think about products or services. There is an unmistakable comfort in being able to make buyer decisions anonymously until the need to make contact and identify oneself makes itself unavoidable—and even then, that too was often behind a screen.
The implementation of CASL impacted (and continues to impact) businesses that thrived on telemarketing tactics. Our team at ESimplified dedicated a few weeks in taking these techniques to task, experimenting with several amazing scripts, while keeping without the legal confines of CASL, yet to no avail. Indeed CASL could not have timed itself more accurately. The market had already shifted itself, quite figuratively uploading itself onto the internet. CASL, rather than putting a stop to business operations, aptly alligns itself with an era where online marketing is decidedly the best tactic.
Mobiles have become everyone’s best friend: these days people cannot go a few minutes, never mind one hour, without touching their phone. It has become one of society’s deeply-entrenched instincts. Many think that the universality of cell phones indicates a huge potential for reaching people through their phones. And that’s why cold calling still persists to today; one of those strategies that business owners feel can be improved upon just with the right script, turn of phrase, or tone of voice. “You should smile while talking on the phone to a prospect, they will feel it and open the window of opportunity,” says the cold-calling guru who doesn’t yet realize that more windows are opened on browsers. Literally.
Yes, the universality of mobile phones does indicate a great potential for reaching people, but the thing is that while one’s mobile is their true BFF, homie, bae, or what have you, and usually ranks on top most prized possession lists, people aren’t really using it so much for actual telephone conversations: they’re online. Browsing Facebook feeds, reading the latest BuzzFeed listicle, searching job boards, online shopping, stock market look-ups, taking in the lastest makeup tutorial on YouTube, or checking up medical symptoms for that sore throat, you name it. Everyone is always connected.
Which takes me back to my story: with a quickly falling revenue, and not able to meet the overheads of the business, our boss the Business Owner had to make some decisions. He weighed his options heavily. And made the wrong decision: he laid off the entire online marketing team in favour of keeping the traditional sales team on board. That’s why I am here today sharing this lesson to you *wave*. Online marketing is important: case in point, the aforementioned business shut its doors forever a year later.
Everything is online. I don’t even need to say it, it’s so well known. Everyone from young Pokémon Go addicts to college grads to business executives, everyone from your retail customer to your next business client is right there on the internet. Why would you not want your business to be where the consumer is? CASL in fact signals an integral movement for businesses everywhere. Even by making cold calling so very difficult, the truth in CASL is that there are actually better, more effective, mediums for reaching your consumer. Get online. Online marketing is the golden ticket to business success.