Email marketing can often be a game changer for lead generation and new business development. But many businesses still shy away from using email marketing more strategically as a marketing tool.

Case in point: One of my clients, a financial advisory, recently sent out a very successful campaign to over 20,000 prospects. The content: well thought out, insightful accounting advice for their specialized audience. The response was incredibly positive: prospects were calling his office, and several email recipients wrote back, thanking him for the information (quite unheard of for a “cold” mailing”). Yet this same client does not want to email his list more than once per year, afraid, in his words, to “piss people off”, despite evidence to the contrary- that many prospects appreciate the valuable free advice that he shares, as demonstrated by his ringing phones and renewed interest in his business.

Look, no business owner wants to be known as a spammer. But a fundamental misunderstanding of Canadian SPAM laws and what constitutes valuable content keeps a lot of small businesses from launching email campaigns, when it can help them enormously with their lead generation efforts. Though many businesses are concerned about violating SPAM laws, the new Canadian SPAM legislation, CASL (which will not be enforced until post-2014) does allow for emailing to B2B prospects, emailing to individuals who publicly publish their emails and colleagues with whom you have pre-existing relationships. Though we do encourage all clients to actively seek consent to email everyone on their list, in many cases, such as with list rentals and emailing members of an association you are a part of, the law allows you to send campaigns as part of the course of legitimate business. For more information about CASL and spam laws, go to fightspam.gc.ca

The key to avoid being a spammer? Provide valuable content. The positive interest you will gain will translate to more opt-in sign ups, prospect calls, interest and awareness of your business. And for those who don’t want your email campaigns: they do (at least until mid 2014 when CASL kicks in) have the option of clicking the “unsubscribe” link. Always honor all unsubscribe requests!

Stuck for ideas on what to send for your next campaign? Want to see email marketing examples from the GAP, Blacks, Apple and more? Check out our post: 4 Email Campaigns to Help You Generate Leads

CORRECTION: In my recent article in Markham VOICE Magazine, I incorrectly stated that Canada’s new anti-spam legislation (CASL) had not yet been passed. In fact, the legislation is now passed by parliament, but it is not yet being enforced. The latest timetable for enforcement is currently projected as beginning in late 2014, with a transitional window extending as late as 2017. For more information about CASL, go to fightspam.gc.ca