Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law Could Spank You


Like an iron fist smothered in maple syrup, Canada is sticking it to brands with the toughest email marketing law in the land. And if your company deals in the Great White North, it may apply to you.

Effective July 1, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) requires businesses to obtain permission to send emails, text messages and possibly social media postings to customers or prospects.

Two Varieties of Consent: Implied or Express

Implied consent requires documented proof of a relationship with a consumer. For example, Jasper in Nova Scotia ordered a batch of squeegees last May and gave you his email address.

Express applies mainly to prospects, or any customer you can’t prove you’ve done business with in the last two years.

To gain the golden stamp of approval, you must dish out opt-in messages and compete with a flurry of others doing the same thing.

While mega brands like Ford entice customers with freebies – a chance to win a free Mustang – small businesses and non-profits don’t have the same resources.

Some experts believe companies will see opt-in rates of less than 20 percent without the help of an agency or digital marketing plan.

Whether you’re a global brand with customers up north, or considering business ventures there, it’s best to have an agency (and lawyer) on your side. Or risk stiff fines – up to $1 million per person, and up 10 times that for companies found in violation – and an email list worth less than a can of spam.

But for now, let’s just hope this crackdown doesn’t spread south of the border.

Read more about CASL here.

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9 Reasons to Drink the Marketing Automation Kool-Aid

Marketing automation Kool-Aid

Would you like to reduce the cost of sales, attract more leads and boost revenues? Dumb question. Of course you would. That’s why it’s time to get over the “robots controlling the world” fears, and dive into marketing automation. Now for some motivation:

Cold, hard cash

  1. Companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months. (Gartner Research)
  2. 78% of high-performing marketers say that marketing automation software is responsible for improving revenue contribution. (Source: Position2)

More sales. Lower cost.

  1. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Forrester Research via Pardot)
  2. Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. (via Captera)
  3. Lead nurturing reduces the percentage of marketing-generated leads ignored by sales (from as high as 80% to as low as 25%).
  4. The average sales cycle has increased 22% over the past 5 years due to more decision makers being involved in the buying process. (via Captera)

Blindside the competition

  1. Marketing automation software only has 3% adoption in non-tech companies. (via Captera)
  2. 63% of companies that are outgrowing their competitors use marketing automation software. (via Captera)

Ideopia can help

  1. 64% of CMOs have no process, or an informal process, to manage their marketing automation. (The Annuitas Group)
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Market To Billions With Baidu, China’s Search Giant


With more active users than the U.S. population, Baidu racks up a staggering 5 billion search queries a day. Yet, outside of China, the fifth most popular website in the world is largely unknown.

But for global brands, that’s starting to change. Here’s what you need to know about advertising on the Google of China:

Breaking down the language barrier

Baidu only crawls websites written in Simplified Chinese, so every search ad, website and landing page must be translated. The company offers support in English, and can put you in touch with a translator. Sure beats “Chinese for Dummies.”

Resellers set up shop in the U.S.

For the right price, companies like China Search International (CSI) make it easy to advertise on Baidu. They translate ad copy and keywords, handle all required documentation (China is strict with regulations), and report analytics.

It’s not just a Google clone

On top of paid search, Baidu offers animated and interactive banner ads, and its own version of homepage takeovers. These campaigns reportedly boast incredible click-thru rates of 50 percent or more.

Should your brand Baidu?

For companies with Chinese interests, Baidu can’t be ignored. With more than 531 million users and 90 percent of the search market, it’s clear that Baidu is the frontrunner in China. As for the rest of us in our American cubbyhole? Google will do just fine.

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List Segmentation Makes Email Way More Effective

Reasons to segment your email database

Audience segmentation has blasted way beyond simple demographic and psychographic descriptions of markets. Sophisticated email marketing schemes can suck data about your customers from Facebook and other sources and target obscure markets like guys who enjoy pilates, frozen dinners, and Finnish beer. Get started now with basic email segmentation, or you’ll have a nervous breakdown when big data and marketing automation hit your doorstep.

Why email?

Not many small businesses have the resources to use or buy big data to target messages to individual consumers. But you can put segmentation to use in your email right away. Most email platforms, even the bargain basement brands, offer some capability.

Why should I care?

You can send tailored information to small but important parts of your audience and make them like you. Why pitch a $500 driver to a novice golfer, or beer to a self-professed wine nut. It makes your company seem out of touch.

Because your content is more relevant, you can celebrate by kicking back, popping open a can of your favorite Finnish beer, and start raking it in big time.

Better numbers. The positive or negative performance won’t sway the analytics for your entire list. At Ideopia, we can always count on our friends and family list for a 60% click-thru rate with our eNewsletter. Great numbers, but they’re outliers when it comes to the performance of our overall list.

Zero in on the most profitable customer segments, and super serve them with customized content.

If you don’t have the resources to write 6 different newsletters then swap out the lead stories only. Still pressed for time? Reduce the length of your stories, or mix it up with Vine video or infographics.

How do I get started?

Sign up with an email marketing web application that handles segmentation. Here’s a helpful review of the most popular email marketing solutions.

Set target metrics or KPIs for each segment. Determine the most meaningful segmentation of your list. With any luck, your Customer Resource Management (CRM) system has already figured this out. Examples could include distributor / direct, gender, brand preference, geography, mobile vs. desktop, business category, etc. Start slowly; this is a journey, not a destination.

Modify your email address capture system, like web forms, to gather segmentation information.

Consider using information commonly available through your website, like time spent on a specific page, referral source (social media, landing page, search term).

Get help! Recruit the product manager to write stories about their category. Put the people in your company who love your products and want to express themselves writing first-person pieces, or creating Vine Video. Assuming you want to see your family again, you will need a content team.

Stagger your mailings, so the editorial crunch doesn’t hit on one day.

You can do it! This first step isn’t technologically difficult, it just takes the grit to plan and organize. You’ll see unsubscribes go down, and conversions and brand loyalty go up.

Is Segmentation Creepy?

On a sale of 1-10 with Facebook being the creepiest user of customer data, basic email segmentation is a 2. Do make sure that you upgrade your privacy policy, so visitors know exactly what you’re doing with their information.

Learn more about content and email segmentation with these posts:

How Evaluate Your Email Newsletter

Blow the Dust off Your Email Program

Mobile Friendly Email is a Must

Troubleshoot Email Marketing with Infographic

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Marketing to Teens? Try These Website Tactics.

You would expect the smartphone generation to navigate the web effortlessly. But, a new study released by Nielsen Norman shows that teens (13-17) might be more confident than capable of using the Internet.

One of the biggest differences between adults and teens was the ability to complete tasks given by the researchers. e.g. buying a sweater in an e-store. Surprisingly, adults were 14 percent more successful at completing their assignments.

So what’s going on? Jakob Nielsen notes that teens have “insufficient reading skill, less sophisticated research strategies, and dramatically lower levels of patience.”

It’s also possible that old people (25-35) build many teen targeted websites and serve up one-size fits all web experiences.

How to Repel a Teen from Your Website

Call a teen a kid, and you can kiss that sale goodbye. Teens resent being lumped in with kids. So watch your language and title on
your navigation.

Slow loading graphics or widgets repel teens. Most of them use secondhand equipment with slower computing speeds and Internet connections. Remember, this is an impatient audience.

Getting personal. Teens value their privacy. They’re very suspicious of any attempt to shake loose personal information. So don’t ask!

Are you targeting teens on the web? We highly recommend reading the entire overview report on the Nielsen Norman web site.

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How to Evaluate Your Email Newsletter


After we send an email, some of us like to watch the opens in a real time. (We can stop whenever we want.) In the interim, it’s fun to hypothesize why some stories get a lot of clicks and others don’t. While this is great fun, we decided this methodology is useless. There are simply too many variables that affect clicks: position on page, the headline, the topic, news, weather, time of day, season, business category, and day of week just to name a few.

Now we have a better solution. Instead of looking at just one issue, we aggregated the data from 12 months on all the stories and articles including remails. The articles are placed into categories, e.g. home tips, fixtures and lighting, and the categories are ranked according to popularity. This still isn’t scientific, because you haven’t corrected for all the variables. But you’ll spot trends that you can A-B test for in future issues.

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Target Your Niche with B2B Search Engines


Google is the undisputed 800-pound gorilla of general search with 65% of all searches. But there’s growing excitement about B2B search engines that target vertical markets.

Most B2B customers start with Google or one of the other biggies, but as they refine their search they switch to smaller search engines, like KnowledgeStorm, that target niche markets. It works out for everyone. The customer finds the detailed information they need fast. And companies receive click-thrus with much higher conversion rates. Many of these sites also offer paid search, which, on a smaller scale, can easily outperform services like AdWords.

We’ve listed some of the major B2B search engines below. It’s also a good idea to Google (ha, ha) the name of your category or industry with the term search engine. You might turn up a couple high school kids running a directory in their basement, or you could find a treasure. Here’s a flavor of what’s out there:

Start Your Search with These B2B Biggies

  • With 6 million visitors per month, this is the largest B2B search engine. Sponsored search is syndicated to more than 100 other business sites.
  • Targets IT industry with general and narrowed search.
  • Jayde: Includes company profiles and links to internal web pages.
  • GlobalSpec: Serves engineering, manufacturing and technical market segments.
  • Alibaba: Called the “online dating service for global business,” has 27 million members in 200 countries.
  • TooToo: Refines searches by category or type of business.
  • CleanHound: Information for the janitorial executive.

Now, find the B2B search engine tailored for your business.

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Too Much SEO? Google Nips Over-Optimized Sites.


Last February, Google released nearly 40 updates to its search service. Among minor ones, like improving and standardizing search images, is an entire set of changes that takes aim at over-optimized sites. This is huge because over zealous sites may lose rank, or get booted from the listings altogether.

Mathew Cutts, Google’s mouthpiece to the world, explained that this is an effort to diminish sites that game the system, and provide equal opportunities to sites with the most relevant content on any given search.

Warning Signs of Over Optimization

Even though your site has avoided black SEO tactics, check it for these signs of over optimization:

  1. Excessive number of links on a page, especially to the same URL. Count the links on navigational drop downs and your footer. The danger zone starts at more than 50.
  2. Overuse of keywords within copy, e.g. “Ideopia is an advertising agency, also known as an ad agency, that takes being an advertising agency very seriously.”
  3. Back links that lack relevance from suspicious domains.

Google is serious about finding the best content for users. And no matter where you are on the SPAM-SEO continuum, this is a good thing. Maybe now we can allocate more budget to create engaging content, and spend less on SEO.

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8 Tips to Improve Landing Page Conversions

  1. Landing pages are perfect for generating buzz about a campaign, pumping new products, collecting user info, and supporting events. They can also confuse people, overwhelm them, or make them want to gouge their eyes out.
  2. Lucky for you (and your eyeballs), we have some tips to help you navigate the pitfalls. A good landing pages uses:
  3. Concise headlines to tell users exactly what to do
  4. Consistent design, graphics and language between the landing page and email
  5. Offers to encourage signups and participation
  6. Clear calls to action
  7. Short, simple forms with large form fields
  8. Buttons with specific labels to prevent confusion and reinforce the call to action, e.g. “Enter Contest”, not “Submit”
  9. Clean layouts without distractions between the copy and form field.
  10. A/B testing to enhance performance and click thru
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QR Codes: Cutting Through the Hype

Based on intel from the marketplace, the current mania about placing QR Codes on everything from toilet paper and advertising to highway billboards and bikini bottoms may indicate that everyone uses them. But that’s not the case. Mobile Marketing recently asked “if there was a place for QR codes in an SMS-dependent society.”

Consider the facts:

  • The U.S. leads the world in mobile barcode usage.
  • Last year the adoption rate increased 1% to 6%.
  • Just one in three consumers thought scanning a barcode was worth it.
  • And only one-third of consumers know how to activate their phone to scan a barcode.

So, should we bag QR codes? No way. They’re just too fun for driving participation in contests, coupons, surveys; and access to important content. The adoption rates are slow, but marketers can accelerate it by:

  • Not sending consumers to dud pages, e.g. Facebook or your home page.
  • Using calls to action, the biggest reason consumers scan QR codes, and attractive offers to spur consumers to action.
  • Staying aware of place and context. Sorry, but billboard where traffic is moving 65 mph doesn’t qualify.
  • Creating landing pages designed for viewing on a mobile phone.
  • QR codes definitely have a place in the marketing plan. But they shouldn’t be the marketing plan. Learn more about the psychology of QR Codes.

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