10 Things Every Marketer in Canada Needs to Know About the New Realities of Digital Marketing

Canada’s new anti-spam e-mail legislation is almost here, and it’s a game changer for every digital marketing manager. The law imposes tough restrictions on what e-marketers can and can’t do with their e-mail campaigns. But for many digital marketers, the law actually comes at an opportune time.

E-mail, once a stalwart for lead generation programs, is slowing taking less of a prominent role in generating new business and driving traffic to websites. Today’s mobile-crazed consumer is more engaged with the overall digital experience of a brand, and digital channels are merging with physical ones. Where once an e-mail campaign could drive a surge of traffic to your online ecommerce store, now push notifications, mobile apps, content-focused ecommerce stores, and digital lookbooks are the new digital marketing heavyweights. In this new age of digital awaking, consumers expect their online shopping to be a full-on “experience,” an immersive, content-rich affair that happens as if by magic across touchpoints, whether it’s in-store, online through an iPhone, tablet, or at home on a regular desktop PC.

Here’s a list of the top 10 things every Canadian marketer needs to know about the new realities of digital marketing.


1. Don’t worry too much if your new e-mail list is smaller.

Under Canada’s new anti-spam legislation, customers must actively opt-in to your e-mail list. Ironically, this means that Canadians are being inundated with dozens of e-mails requesting their express consent. Many of these crucial e-mails will be ignored or unwittingly forgotten, dramatically putting the squeeze on the size of your marketing list. One client we worked with experienced a 50% drop in subscribers when consumers were asked to opt-in to a new marketing list.

While a large e-mail marketing list is great, smaller doesn’t necessarily mean worse. Those customers who have opted to continue receiving your communications have a vested interest in hearing what your business has to say. These are motivated customers who want to hear from you, so in theory these customers are more valuable to your business than customers who are not engaged.


2. Your subject line just got a whole lot more important.

E-mail subject lines have always been a key factor in your e-mail open rates. But it’s much more important now. Because the new anti-spam law has businesses rushing to obtain consent by blasting out consent e-mails, Canadians are ironically being bombarded with more e-mail now than ever before. Marketers need to craft a subject line that indicates an immediate need and communicates a sense of urgency. Consider writing a subject line like this:

Coffee Co. Canada: [Action Required] Stay Connected with Us

Additionally, marketers should consider segmenting by e-mail client — some types of software don’t have preview panes or truncate subject lines, so you want the first few words to convey the reason they should open and act. The body text is also critical. Ensure that you provide a value proposition for why they should stay on your list. Include a brief but clear explanation of the law and why action is required.


3. Mobile, mobile, mobile.

Your e-mails are optimized for mobile, right? More than 50% of e-mails are opened on mobile devices, so if you think that mobile is a “nice to have,” think again. It’s a business imperative. Adopt a mobile-first mentality in all that you do, because you’re going to need it.


4. Think more about the overall digital experience

E-mail as a channel is slowing being supplanted by other digital avenues for engaging with customers. Chief among these is personalization within the overall digital experience. Personalized content — fuelled by big data and new business intelligence engines — is being highly targeted on web, mobile, and in-store via new retail technologies such as iBeacons.

Marketers need to start transitioning their thinking to a mindset focused on the overall digital experience. E-mail is surely a part of that mix, but it’s no longer a central focus.


5. Customers don’t see “channels.” They only see your brand.

Marketers need to rethink how online and offline channels are integrated. Today’s digitally-empowered consumers are shopping everywhere — at home, strolling through the park, or while standing in line at Tim Hortons.

To most retailers, these opportunities represent separate channels (web, e-mail, mobile, tablet, in-store, wearables) that are often managed by different departments or teams. But customers don’t see “channels” – they only see your brand. This makes having an experience-driven commerce strategy that takes omni-channel retailing into account more important than ever.


6. Connect with customers on an emotional level

As a digital marketer, your goal shouldn’t be a high open rate on an e-mail campaign or a set amount of traffic to your website or iPhone app downloads, although those are certainly nice. Instead, your overall goal should be to craft a message that resonates with consumers emotionally. Research has shown that consumers are much more likely to purchase a product if it is placed within a context that resonates with them on an emotional level. The story of your product is what matters most.


7. The rise of story-selling

A shift is underway in the ecommerce industry. The shopping experience is being re-imagined through digital experiences that bring a brand and product to life, raising the bar to be more than rows and columns of little product images on a website. Shoppers want and fully expect their favourite brands to deliver rich, personalized shopping experiences across all channels.

Digital marketers can deliver this by focusing on “experience-driven commerce.” This approach encompasses the concepts of storytelling and editorial content, enticing consumers to engage with your brand.

8. Digital is eating the world

The potential impact that digital experiences will have on the retail sector is profound. Market research firm Forrester estimates that by 2017, half of all retail transactions will be influenced by digital channels in some way.

Marketers selling direct to consumer have the opportunity to reinvent their businesses to become truly omnichannel, immersive, content-driven and socially integrated, setting themselves apart from their retail channel partners.

9. Marketing software is evolving

In the past, e-commerce and marketing teams operated in silos. Hammered by technology systems that did not integrate or communicate well, the end result was often an online shopping experience that was disjointed and lacking in continuity. No longer.

Today, digital marketing platforms such as Adobe Marketing Cloud and OpenText can integrate seamlessly with ecommerce platforms, surfacing commerce capability from inside applications that marketers already use everyday.

10. CMOs shall inherit the earth

Well-known research firm Gartner Research has predicted that marketing departments and their heads — Chief Marketing Officers — will spend more on IT than CIOs by 2017. While some have disputed this claim as hoopla, it’s clear that marketing is becoming increasingly technology-based.

Data is driving business decisions and platforms for harnessing business intelligence are becoming more affordable. Add to that the fact that marketing budgets are larger and growing faster than IT budgets, and you can see how digital marketing is becoming a major driving force for almost all businesses.

Matt Dion is the vice president of marketing at Elastic Path.