Soliciting Emails at Point of Sale: Email Marketing Information for Canadian Businesses

Heads up! This post was written when Metric Marketing was known as Canada's Web Shop.
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How many times have you been to a store and been asked for your personal information and/or your email address? Have you ever filled out a small ballot form for a draw and noticed a field at the very bottom for email? Do you notice that some registration and application forms for things like credit cards and loyalty programs now have a space where you can write your email address?

These are methods that businesses are using to augment their online efforts. This is a terrific strategy for growing your email list but you need to be aware of a few things. Did you know that asking for this information incorrectly or without the necessary supporting documentation could land your company in a heap of trouble?

If you’re soliciting your customers at Point of Sale, keep in mind these points from the Industry Canada Website regarding the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act:

a) Canadian Privacy Law states that you must ask for permission to collect and use personal information such as email addresses and mailing addresses for commercial purposes. This includes sending newsletters and information.

b) Keep a copy of your privacy policy close at hand or make it clear where it is available online. With all the fraud and identity theft going on nowadays, people are reluctant to pass out their information especially if they don’t know you. Having your privacy policy handy can make the difference for gaining the addresses of discerning customers. Better still, make the information of the person/department responsible for handling personal information readily available to anyone who asks.

c) You must clearly communicate to the individual at or before the point of disclosing the information the purpose for which it is being collected. Tell the customer the reason why you’re asking for their information. Is it to send them additional information about your product? Is it to send them a newsletter or samples of other products? If you can make the reason compelling enough, you’ll have little resistance getting their information.

Here’s an example form which adheres to current Canadian Privacy Laws:

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Enter our draw to win a $2500.00 Shopping Spree!
First Name: __________________________________________
Last Name: ___________________________________________
Phone Number: ( ___ ) ____ - _______
Email Address (optional): _______________@__________

May we email you occasionally with offers that may be of interest to you?
Yes ____ No ____

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To find out more about how Privacy Laws can affect your online business, check out our article on Bulk Email Laws or find out more about developing a safe Email Marketing Campaign by going to our Email Marketing page.

Industry Canada FAQ, Jul 17, 2006, http://privacyforbusiness.ic.gc.ca/epic/site/pfb-cee.nsf/en/h_hc00003e.html#question1 Accessed on: Sep 11, 2007

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