For several years, Canadian business owners have been hearing about anti-spam email legislation. The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is a new anti-spam law that has been passed to protect Canadians from aggressive email marketers. Although there is no definitive date for enforcement, Canadian business owners should start thinking about how to implement email marketing best practices to stay compliant with the upcoming law.
I recently attended an Opt-In Canada webinar hosted by Constant Contact, a leading email marketing software provider. Guy Stevens, Regional Development Director for Western Canada and Lisa Kember, Regional Director of Canada East at Constant Contact hosted the webinar and brought in an expert in the area of CASL, lawyer Shaun Brown.
If you missed the webinar, here are some of the highlights you need to know about the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation and how it impacts your business.
What is the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)?
CASL is the new anti-spam law passed by the federal government of Canada to protect unwanted commercial electronic messages (CEM). CEM includes various forms of electronic communications like email, SMS messaging and direct messaging through social media platforms. The law was written to cover future forms of technological advancements in electronic communications.
What does the law cover and how does it impact your business?
The CASL law requires that businesses only send email to recipients under certain situations to avoid being classified by the law as “spam”. Businesses require consent before sending a commercial electronic message:
- Express consent – person has given explicit permission to communicate via email for the specific purpose (e.g. email newsletter)
- Implied consent:
- Existing business relationship – someone has made a purchase within the last 24 months or an inquiry into your company’s products/services within the last 6 months.
- Existing non-business relationship – someone who has been involved in contributing in some way e.g. volunteer or donations.
- Conspicuously published electronic address – someone whose email is public on a website, directory etc.- the message that is allowed to be sent must be related to the person’s published business capacity.
- Provided email address to the sender.
- Sender and company must be fully identified in the communication e.g. business address – to confirm the company the receiver would be dealing with is a “real” company”.
- Unsubscribe option on each electronic communication.
When does the CASL go into effect?
The reality is that no one knows for sure. However, the law has been passed. Once the specific regulations have been finalized, Industry Canada has identified that they will give businesses at least 12 months from when the law goes into effect.
What can you do now to get ready for CASL?
The best way to prepare for CASL is to start thinking about how people within your business network view the emails you send. Assess your current practices and find areas where the new legislation applies. The new legislation requires that your business be more stringent in collecting email addresses for email marketing purposes.Â It also requires more rigorous recording practices of obtaining these email addresses; so, you would need to put processes and systems in place to be able to track back specifically where / when / how you obtained consent to send email to each individual.
- Stop buying generic lists. If you think a list of people who have never communicated with you before want to hear from you, they likely don’t and will view your email as spam instead. Find a better way to build a relationship with someone online to gain permission to A) have their email address and B) send to them regularly.
- Find something of value your customers and prospects care about. Make it valuable enough that they will give you an email address and permission to send to them.
- Use a proper email marketing tool. This allows people to opt out when they want and it also allows you to send a permission alert to someone when you are sending email for the first time. Have permission alerts let the recipient know you are asking if you have permission to send to them.
The Last Word….
As with all disruptive marketing techniques, whether it’s telemarketing, advertising, door-to-door selling or spamming, you are making a decision about your sales process and how you wish to implement lead generation tactics. Are you going to badger? Or engage?Â The Marketing CoPilotÂ Methodology supports the ideas of identifying the right people for your pipeline and sending them the right content at the right time. If you follow this process, you won’t ever have to worry about stepping outside the legislation. It’s common sense. Give someone something of value to engage with you and you will have their permission and their interest.
Want to know more about CASL?
There is so much more to know about CASL, so if you would like to dive in deeper on this subject, we recommend a few links:
- The complete Opt-In Canada webinar recording for Constant Contact on YouTube covering areas like: Who is the law going to affect?, What happens if your business violates CASL? and What can you do to be compliant with CASL?
- The handy CASL checklist created by Constant Contact to help you prepare.
- The Government of Canada Anti-Spam Legislation website including the opportunity to sign up for email updates on CASL.