email marketing

Are you providing value?

If you want people to pay attention to you in this very busy, loud and overwhelming world then there is one thing you need to make sure you always do - PROVIDE VALUE. 

People will only make time for things they really WANT, so it's your job to understand your audience enough to have figured out what they want. 

Are you providing value_Lara Wellman.png


Can you describe your audience? Every audience is different and you need to take the time to really figure out who your audience is. Understanding who makes up that audience, what they like, what they don’t like and what they would like from you is critical in creating the kind of content that can help you build relationships that turn your audience into customers.

Once you’ve figured that out, creating and sharing content that can connect with your audience becomes a lot easier.


Not every audience is looking for the same kind of information. Make sure that everything you share has some kind of connection back to who you are and who your audience is. 

Think about why they followed you in the first place. What would people expect the content to look like coming from your brand? Make sure your content doesn’t go too far off from that.

Things that people value tend to fall into three main categories:

  1. You’re teaching them something,
  2. You’re entertaining them, or
  3. You’re giving them tools and knowledge. 


Nobody likes to follow a brand that is only trying to sell to them. That’s valuable to the brand, not to the audience. Make sure that you’re giving your audience something they want or can use so that when you do post some sales posts - and you definitely should - they think so highly of you they’re far more inclined to buy.

People don’t want information that has nothing to do with them or that they can’t relate to.


  • If your main audience is young women about to get married, interesting articles about retirement doesn’t make sense. 
  • If your main audience is men who want to home brew their own beer, then funny cartoons about being a new mom doesn’t make sense.
  • If you promised tips and tricks to help them do something better, just sharing things you’re selling isn’t going to convince them of anything other than that you’re pushy and too sales-y.
  • If you sell hammers, make sure that you talk about the hammers, and the things you can do with the hammers. 

Where and how do they want to receive information?

Where do your people like to hang out? If they're on Instagram, creating podcasts is never going to work well for them. If they're on YouTube, they want video, so you want to make sure you're creating video.

If they love really clean design you're going to be creating different things than if they really like stories. The more you understand what format they like to receive content in, what they want to know, and where they want to receive it, the more likely your content will hit the mark and connect with them.

Spend some time thinking about your content and what you’re giving to your audience that they would value. Then share some examples (good and bad) of what you’ve seen or done that relates to giving an audience value in the comments.

If you'd like help finding ways to share content online so people are ready to pay attention, come and join my free Facebook Group - The Biz Studio Community. There's a free cheat sheet in the files section with templates to use to highlight the benefit and value of your content when you share it (because even more than providing valuable content, you need to also make sure you're telling people what you're sharing and how it's valuable).

Newsletter sign ups a must at your next trade show

This past weekend I checked out the Live the Smart Way Expo that was happening here in Ottawa. I had quite a few friends exhibiting and I was excited to check out a show that was getting great buzz.

My friend Julie of The Magic Fridge at the Live the Smart Way Expo

My friend Julie of The Magic Fridge at the Live the Smart Way Expo

Because I can never quite turn off my work mode, as I walked around the show I couldn't help but notice how many people had nothing at their booths that would give them an opportunity to follow up with the people that they met. Thousands of people would walk by and might even take notice of them, but how many of those people would ACTUALLY take the printed materials you give them and later get in touch?

A trade show is the perfect place to get new email subscribers onto your newsletter list. It allows you the opportunity to follow up with them and then to continue staying top of mind moving forward. Here are a few tips to help you do this effectively at your next trade show:

Have an incentive

People don't WANT to be on hundreds of mailing lists so you need to give people a reason to sign up. A giveaway is a really great way to do this. The important piece here is to make the giveaway applicable to what you do because while you want as many email addresses as possible, you don't want email addresses of completely unqualified leads. 

A great example of a giveaway that isn't a good fit for most people is an iPad. Why? Everyone wants an iPad. They'll sign up and then unsubscribe as soon as you send them anything - all they wanted was the iPad. Instead, offer something that relates to your business i.e., a gift certificate for your business, access to a free class, an hour of consulting, a free rental, etc.

Tell people 

Have signage and verbally encourage people to sign up. When you talk to people and they seem interested in what it is you do, let them know they can sign up to get updates, promotions, and other great information - and also let them know that they might win whatever great thing it is you're giving away.

If you have a big booth with things for people to touch and feel and see, make sure that you have signs at the different sides of the booth, or possibly multiple sign up sheets and/or ballot boxes to make it as easy as possible for people to see the opportunity and take advantage of it.

Follow up

It's great that you got all those email addresses, but you need to make sure that you follow up within a week of getting all the email addresses.  

Why? Because if you wait too long they could forget how they got on the list and be frustrated when your email does show up. Not only that though, it's an opportunity to reinforce what they learned at the show.

Tell them it was great to meet them, send them some links and extra information on what you do and that they might find interesting, and offer them a special time-limited promotion. That one-time email to just the people you met at the show will then set the stage for future emails you send.

A quick note about the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation. To make sure you stay compliant, make it clear with a check box for newsletter that someone is agreeing to get emails from you by giving you their name and email address. Then keep that documentation, either by scanning it and saving it or just keeping paper copies permanently.

So, next time you're at a trade show, don't miss out on this great opportunity - get those email addresses for your mailing list!


Five reasons you should start sending a newsletter


I’m a huge fan of newsletters (no surprise to you if you follow my content :) ). Newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with people in a reliable and regular way. Today I’m going to break down five reasons I think you should be sending a regular newsletter to your audience. 

1)   Who doesn’t check their email?

Almost everyone checks their email daily, if not 500 times a day (I admit nothing!). People check their email far more reliably and more often than they do any other social network so getting into their inbox means they are much more likely to see the information you want to share with them.

2)   They asked for it

People have a tendency to think of email as bothersome, but remember that if you have someone’s email address it’s because they gave it to you (if they didn’t, you need to make sure you make a few changes.) 

If you convinced someone that they want to receive email from you, they probably want to hear what you have to say and it’s not remotely a bother to them.

3)   You know they saw it

Advertising on social networks, or any other kind of advertising, will never guarantee that your audience will see your message. Facebook algorithms, and whether or not they’ve logged in to potentially see the message at all is a big unknown.

When you are sending someone an email they are almost guaranteed to have seen that you sent them something. That doesn’t mean they’ll open it, or read it (this is why subject lines are SO important), but it does mean that they saw something from you. This is much more reliable than any other way of getting in touch with your audience.

4)   You can measure the success

Newsletter tools have amazing ways to measure the success of what you’re sending. You can see who opened the emails and what they clicked on, you can run tests to see if you have more opens based on the time of day that you send or based who you’ve sent the email from (we’ve played around a lot with sending emails from “Wellman Wilson Consulting” vs. “Lara and Karen”). Metrics let you know if what you’re doing is working, something you always need to pay attention to in order to make sure that the efforts you’re putting into online marketing is worth it.

5)   It works

I can’t say this as confidently for any other online marketing tool. When I talk to people about the success of their newsletter, especially if it’s sent with regularity, everyone tells me it impacts not only relationship building, but also sales. An email newsletter gets results and that has to be the biggest reason of all to have one. 

Do you want to start an email newsletter but you’re not sure where to start? Join us for a free webinar on Tuesday, September 16th at noon EST. In this one-hour webinar we’re going to be covering the basics of why you need a newsletter, what you need to consider when starting a newsletter, what you should be saying, and answering all your newsletter questions. 

Sign Up Today!

Email marketers: CASL is coming - are you ready?

Businesses that are using email marketing (or voice, text, video, or audio messages) to promote their business to individuals are going to have brand new rules to follow when CASL comes into effect on July 1, 2014.

What is CASL?

CASL is the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation that was passed in December 2013. It’s considered to be the world’s toughest anti-spam legislation. The law applies to all commercial electronic messages (including emails, texts, audio, video and may even apply to private messages on social media) for any organization that:

  • is located in Canada,
  • uses an email provider based in Canada,
  • or have recipients that live in Canada (or an email address that ends in .ca).

Here are some key facts:

  • Personal relationships are exempt; also charities and political parties
  • Not-for-profits are not exempt (e.g., community associations, soccer clubs)
  • Fines up to 1M for individuals; 10M for organizations (per incident)
  • Burden of proof to establish consent is on the sender
  • CRTC will publicize the list of complaints (like PIPEDA)

The legislation was passed with a built-in three year transition period for implied consent (unless revoked). However, complaints will be taken right away. Therefore, it’s important for businesses to be ready on July 1, 2014.

COMPLIANCE - what you need to know

A huge component of the CASL is consent. Consent cannot be opt-out (pre-checked box); double opt-in is ideal (submit email address, confirm with subscription by clicking on a link). Consent also may not be tied to the terms of a sale.

Implied Consent

There are provisions for implied consent to be obtained in the legislation. However, there is a significant downside in that proving implied consent will be administratively onerous to track and manage. Implied consent exists when you have a business relationship with the subscriber - clients, associates, networking group contacts).

Because consent is implied in these relationships, documentation of the start and end of the relationship must be retained. When, where, and how you met should be recorded, particularly if the relationship develops through a networking group.

The biggest challenge with implied consent is that consent expires 2 years after the end of the relationship. This can be challenging to define depending on circumstances. It may be even more challenging to administer given that you may be unaware that the relationship has ended (e.g., the person doesn’t renew their membership to the networking group where you met).

Express Consent

The gold standard of consent is express consent. It is the embodiment of permission marketing, which has been the best practice in email marketing since Seth Godin coined the phrase. Express consent means that an individual has specified in some way (verbally, in writing, web subscribe form) that they want to be on your list.

The biggest advantage of express consent? It doesn’t expire, unless it’s revoked!

Like implied consent, documentation of express consent is required in case of a complaint. For verbal consent, send a follow-up email, or enter the email address into your website’s web form if you are set up for double opt-in. A note in your organization’s customer relationship database (CRM) or email marketing system is also sufficient when enough details are given (date, event, brief description).

Email marketing compliance

There are several other requirements to achieve compliance with CASL.

  • The sender identity must be clear. It needs to be easy to tell who has sent an email - whether it’s an individual or organization. There are several places where identification can be shown: sender email name, branding in the email header, and/or in the email footer with mailing address and other contact information.
  • A mailing address (can be P.O. Box) must be listed in all email marketing. The address will give your business more legitimacy and home-based businesses have the option of using a P.O. Box to preserve privacy.
  • Your emails must have an unsubscribe mechanism (one-click is ideal). Even some multi-step unsubscribe mechanisms may be considered in contravention of the law if they are deemed too onerous for users to complete the unsubscribe process. Revoking access to someone’s email address needs to be easy.
  • Unsubscribes must take effect within 10 days (immediate is best). Most email marketing systems work immediately. If yours does not, or if you have a manual process, it is imperative that the process be completed within 10 days. (Consider eliminating any manual processes related to email marketing subscriptions by using an email marketing system.)
  • All emails must include a permission reminder. A permission reminder is a short statement of why the recipient received the email: “You are receiving this email because….” Including such a statement can help prevent unnecessary complaints.

What you need to do to prepare

There are a lot of different factors involved with the CASL legislation; here are a few basics to get you started:

  • Get permission - always.
  • Make it easy to unsubscribe.
  • Clean your list(s) before July 1.
  • Use a proper email marketing tool (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Aweber, Infusionsoft - not Outlook or other web/desktop email clients).
  • Run a win back campaign (ask for re-subscribes; give incentive). These campaigns can only be run prior to July 1, 2014.

Want to learn more?

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation is detailed and may be require fairly complex compilance measures for some organizations. The following resources can give you more information about your organization’s specific situation.

The Email Marketer’s Ultimate Checklist for Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Update [PDF], WhatCounts 
CASL Survival Guide, Elite Email
Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law: CASL, Cornell On Law
Canada’s New Anti-Spam Legislation: What you need to know to comply, Gowlings (Webinar recording; requires registration)  

If you have questions about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation and your email list, join our email list for a special offer to help you get ready! We can help assess your organization’s readiness for the changes.

A version of this post first appeared on the Women’s Business Network of Ottawa blog.