Can I Email Market to my Contest Participants?

Posted by Danny Wood

Recently, Meghan from Metric Marketing sent me a question regarding the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation and Contests & Sweepstakes:

If we’re running a contest or sweepstakes with Canadian participants, how explicitly must we ask our participants for their permission to add them to our email marketing list?

This is a great question, and even if you’re in the United States, the answer may apply to you if there is the potential for Canadians to enter your contest or sweepstakes.

No longer acceptable:

It is no longer okay to include subscription to an email marketing list as part of the terms & conditions of a sweepstakes or contest. This does not effectively obtain explicit consent of the participant to become involved in email marketing.

The right way to do it:

If you’re looking to carry out email marketing with your participants, the best way to do it is with an explicit request for their permission. In the case of a contest or sweepstakes, such a request should be laid out as follows:

  • A block of text that explains what the user is signing up for, and explaining that they can unsubscribe at any time. An example could be: “Yes, please sign me up for X Company’s Newsletter. I’d like to receive coupons, be entered to win gift cards, and receive periodic updates. I understand that I can unsubscribe at any time.”
  • A checkbox that the user clicks to indicate that they would like to sign up.

The positive aspect

Although the process of specifically asking for participants’ consent will most likely result in a lower number of new email subscribers being collected, there are two key positive takeaways from these new requirements:
Think about what makes your email newsletter great
Because you must write a description of what your participants will receive if they sign up for your email list, this is a great time to think about your email marketing contents and benefits; are your participants getting good value for becoming email marketing subscribers?

Your subscriber quality will increase greatly
Although it may seem fantastic to easily gain large amounts of email subscribers through “automatic opt-in”, there’s a strong chance that these people would be highly disengaged as newsletter list members. Requiring an opt-in will increase open-rates and click-throughs on your emails, and will increase the likelihood that you will drive real ROI from your email marketing.

Of course, if you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to email me!