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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Apr 12, 2018 12 min read

Could CASL And GDPR Laws Come To America? Get Your Digital Marketing Strategy Ready

CASL and GDPR Regulations

How You Market Your Company Is Going To Change, And Why The Government Is More Likely To Tell You What You Can And Cannot Do

CASL and GDPR Regulations

Most companies and most marketers are already aware of CASL and GDPR, especially companies in Canada and Europe. U.S. companies need to get ready, because similar regulations are likely coming to the U.S., and they are going to be challenging.

How do I know? What’s making me write about this today? Spend five minutes watching Mark Zuckerberg, CEO at Facebook, testify in front of the Senate committee investigating the Russian situation and you’ll see what I see.

The government has lost all trust that Facebook or any other social media company has any capability to protect the privacy of the American people, and government officials are likely to take matters into their own hands. You should consider watching some of the testimony.

It’s historic, and it’s likely going to change the laws associated with how you collect information from prospects, use and store that information, and allow your prospects to set privacy guidelines. But most importantly, it’s likely going to seriously limit the targeting data you currently get from Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media companies.

The job of getting people aware of your company, staying in touch with them and learning more about them is likely to get a lot harder. Here’s what you need to know to keep your digital marketing strategy humming along regardless of the changing regulatory environment.

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Understand CASL And GDPR

I’m not an expert when it comes to either of these laws. What I can tell you is that ignoring them altogether comes with potential risks. In the case of CASL, you can be financially liable for marketing that is not compliant. Your agency could be financially responsible, too, and don’t be surprised if agencies start asking you to absolve them from these responsibilities. We’ve been including contractual information for Canadian clients for over a year just to make sure that we’re not putting ourselves in a risky situation.

The reality of working with Canadian clients within CASL is that it’s not hard to comply, and when we recommend our clients comply and they follow our advice, it’s a non-issue. But it’s worth talking about and having an understanding about the law before we start an engagement.  

I’m also not a lawyer, and I can’t provide any legal advice, but if you’re thinking the chances of a Canadian company reporting you to the CASL authorities and a Canadian regulatory agency suing an American company to collect penalties is highly unlikely, I would tend to agree. But I also know this is a risk I’m not interested in entertaining, nor is it a risk I would recommend to our clients, especially when it’s not difficult to simply understand the regulations and take actions accordingly.

Regulations And Results

GDPR ComplianceNo one is inherently against privacy or providing a marketing experience that fits the confidentiality requirements of our potential customers. But as marketers, we all worry that tightened regulations will impact our ability to generate leads, turn those leads into sales opportunities and ultimately convert those opportunities into new customers.

Since we started working with Canadian and European clients, we’ve been working hard to comply with the new regulations. In addition, we’ve been adapting our own marketing to comply as well. Since “practice what we preach” is one of our core values, we felt it was important to have our own experiences to effectively help clients.

I am happy to report that to date the extra requirements have not had any noticeable impact on results. When you unpack the experience, it appears to make sense. Prospects are not against checking a couple of extra boxes or jumping through an extra hoop if they understand that these are requirements and (this is important) the content is great. It makes sense; if you continue to create amazing content that your prospects are dying to get their hands on, they will fill out any form, check any box and do what you ask to get access to that information.

Start Paying Attention To What’s Going On In This Country

Digital Marketing StrategyYou might be saying to yourself, “We don’t market in Canada and Europe, we don’t have any prospects or clients in those countries and we have other issues that need our attention, so this doesn’t have anything to do with us.”

You might be right, but there is a bigger chance that you are going to be wrong. This week I spent some time watching the Senate testimony from Zuckerberg. Those Senators are serious, angry, concerned and clear. They don’t believe that these social media marketing companies are capable of policing themselves to protect the American consumer.

Many of them are already working on laws to limit what social media companies can do with their data, which is going to limit what you can do to use social media as part of your marketing program. But who knows how far this will go? It could impact Google and AdWords. It could limit how HubSpot and other marketing automation and CRM systems tag and store prospect data.

It could add gates that drive down conversion rates dramatically. It could put limitations on how companies and marketing agencies create targeting, outreach, nurture, website experiences and more. It has the potential to change the game, and you should be aware of it now.

Help Your Company Understand It

GDPR TrainingIt’s going to be important for your company to understand all of the regulations inside and outside of our country. If you ever get Canadian or European visitors to your website, you need to be compliant. You need to understand the risks associated with how your company is responding to the changing requirements, and I think you should consider doing this now, whether or not CASL and GDPR affect your companies.

Almost every company in the U.S. is going to need to understand and make changes to the way they market. If you can help your leaders, managers and executives understand these new rules, you’ll have an opportunity to adjust your approach without seeing decreases in visitors, leads, sales opportunities, new customers and revenue.

This can take the form of training on new regulations, workshops or information sessions, or even more simple, a conversation with leadership on how you’re going to address this situation. You should also be able to turn to your agency partners and ask them to help share what they know, their experiences with other clients and the information required for you to make a good decision for your company.

Agencies need to take a leadership position around these regulations and help their clients to apply the regulations in a productive way to limit their impact on the performance of active marketing campaigns. That’s our expectation, and one it’s one I hope other agencies embrace as well.

Make Sure You Are Ahead Of And Not Behind What’s Coming

Marketing RegulationsCASL is already here, and we’re just a few weeks from the GDPR deadline. It’s probably too late for a lot of you to get ahead of both sets of regulations. But what I really want to emphasize is the importance of getting ready for what’s coming here. This isn’t something that might happen. This is happening.

This is going to affect you. You are going to have to learn how to market your company and run your programs with a new set of rules. The sooner you get a handle on this, the sooner you’ll be in a position to feel confident that the changes won’t significantly impact your company.

CASL and GDPR are models that our country is likely to look at as starting points. Understanding and getting educated around those sets of regulations is going to put you in a positive position to deal with anything coming down the pike in this country.

Maryland, Minnesota and Montana are all considering state-based privacy rules that could impact how you help clients in those states. If the federal government does not do something, it’s likely that some (or all) states will work to try and protect their citizens. 

But what’s more than likely is that the Congress will enact some wide-ranging and sweeping online and social media privacy laws that make collecting information, storing information and using personal information for marketing purposes much more difficult. Now is the time to start thinking about this, getting educated and keeping a close eye on what’s going on in Congress.  

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.

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