Surprising similarities between effective email marketing and healthy relationships

Best practices and CASL compliance

Have you ever been in a dysfunctional relationship? You’re not alone. I’d argue that many of us have been involved in less-than-ideal relationships at some point in our lives. I know I’ve been there — but you couldn’t tell me that at the time. It wasn’t until years after the fact, when I found someone I was able to have a healthy relationship with, that I fully appreciated how unhealthy that previous relationship was. Recently, my girlfriend and I were reflecting on this subject, and I couldn’t help but notice that some key elements of a healthy relationship can also apply to effective email marketing.

Open and honest communication

Good communication is a must for a healthy relationship. It’s essential for building a bond. And, perhaps most important, open and honest communication is the only way for your partner to know what you want, need or expect. People are not mind readers.

When it comes to email marketing, open and honest communication also is critical. Individuals signing up for your mailing list should understand exactly what your intentions are and what they will receive if they opt-in to your list. Deliver on the expectations you set, and be sure to let your audience know the lines of communication are open. While you might receive feedback without requesting it, letting your audience know they can communicate with you is a great way to learn what you are doing right, and what can be improved.


In healthy relationships, there is always a level of mutual appreciation. You understand the value your partner brings to your life, and that’s why you’re willing to invest a commodity as valuable as your time in them. Gratitude and appreciation also attract positive energy into the relationship, which improves the quality of your own life.

Showing your email subscribers that you appreciate them also is a fundamental part of effective email marketing. Simply providing recipients with as much genuine value as you can is a great place to start. Giving them great content that they look forward to receiving not only shows that you respect and appreciate their time, it also helps them appreciate you as a content creator. In addition to providing valuable content, you can show appreciation by offering exclusive discounts for email subscribers.


A connection built on honesty and mutual respect builds a level of trust that is crucial for a healthy relationship. You know who your partner truly is, and even if you “take the good with the bad” you still feel happy and fulfilled.

Effective email marketing also begins with building credibility. Primarily, you cultivate trust by providing value to your audience through free content that also showcases your expertise. However, you also build trust with transparency and honesty. Make it clear in your communications who you are, and how you can be reached if your email recipients want to unsubscribe. Your emails should represent who you are and what you do, with subject lines that accurately convey what readers will find in the corresponding message.


In healthy relationships, cooperation occurs when partners work together as equals for the benefit of everyone involved. It involves both parties “giving” for the sake of the relationship, as opposed to one person putting their own needs and interests above the other.

You can practice cooperation in email marketing by approaching the relationship as one of mutual value. Understand who your audience is and what matters to them. If you cannot provide the value they are seeking, make it easy for them to opt out of future communications. Remember, when it comes to email marketing, focus more on the quality of your list than on the number of people on it.

CASL: The relationship counselor

Relationships sometimes require a little professional help to better benefit both parties. When it comes to email marketing in the Great White North, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is sort of like that relationship counselor. CASL features an opt-in model that requires senders of “Commercial Electronic Messages” (which includes email and other types of messages, including texts) to secure recipients’ consent before sending. Click here to learn about express and implied consent. Above all, just remember that it’s up to the sender to keep track of who’s consented to receive emails.

Basically, commercial emails sent from companies within Canada and from elsewhere to recipients in Canada must be CASL-compliant. In addition to securing consent, email marketers need to include this content in their messages:

  • identity of the sender and any third party for whom the message is sent
  • mailing address and either a phone number, email address or web address that will remain functional for at least 60 days after sending the message
  • mechanism that makes it easy to unsubscribe (All unsubscribe requests must be completed within 10 days.)

To learn more about CASL, visit the government’s dedicated site at

(Special thanks to attorney David Lyons, partner at Lerners LLP in Ontario, for sharing his CASL expertise.)

Final thoughts

CASL ultimately aims to promote positive email marketing relationships. The goal is to reduce unwanted/unsolicited messages so that emails that are received have a higher perceived value. This is great for both businesses and those who sign up for their mailing list. Just remember: if you intend to utilize email marketing, treat those on your list with the highest level of respect and appreciation. Treat them as you would want to be treated. If you approach email marketing with this core mindset, you’ll be well on your way to showcasing your expertise and generating more business via your email marketing efforts.

Image by: Ricardo.M.P via Compfight cc