CASL (Canadian Anti Spam Law) is what every marketer is talking about lately. For those of you who haven’t familiarized yourselves with the law yet, it is a big change but it is not necessarily a change for the worse. The legislation came into effect on July 1st 2014 so, as of then, you may be penalized for sending out any non compliant emails. Although there is an adjustment period of 3 years from the date of “activation”, the buffer period only applies to the subscribers you already have whose consent was implied or whose expressed consent you have not yet received.
"CASL is designed to eliminate spam and that should not interfere with your business in any way."
You may have already received a couple of emails requesting your consent to continue receiving newsletters from certain companies and organizations. This is happening because the law is built around the Expressed and Implied consent to receiving e-mails, texts or any other form of electronic marketing communication. Although it is best for all of us to read the full version of the law which can be found here, you will have a pretty good idea of the steps to take after reading this post (however if you are having doubts please do seek a professional’s opinion).
To begin with, let’s address a couple of concerns that may be going through your mind.
MYTH: It is illegal to send promotional emails, texts or post promotions on social media.
FACT: It is not illegal to send commercial electronic messages, but you need consent. CASL applies to e-mails, text and instant messages, and any similar messages sent to electronic addresses. CASL does not apply to promotional information you post online in places like blogs or social media.
MYTH: I won’t be able to use email or my current email list to promote my products and services.
FACT: You can continue to use email if you have express or implied consent from recipients. During the 36-month transition period, you can continue to use your current email list if you have previously provided your products or services to them and they haven’t told you to stop.
MYTH: I could get fined of up to $10 million for sending email and there could be class action.
FACT: There are no automatic penalties. The CRTC has a range of enforcement tools available, from warnings to penalties (up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses).
Based on this law you should be focusing on collecting consent from your subscribers, whether expressed or implied and making sure you do not mislead your audience with your marketing messages. I only listed a couple of myths above but you can find more on the official site.
Expressed VS. Implied Consent
This is probably the most important part of the law and the trickier one to understand because we are not used to taking electronic correspondence seriously. It is crucial for every marketer and/or small business owner to understand the difference between expressed and implied consent. Keep in mind that the goal is to attain expressed consent from all of your subscribers by July 1st 2017, which is when the three years buffer period ends. Let’s start with some examples.
The customer explicitly asks for you to send them an email or text – once acquired, it never expires
Example 1: Fills out a form on your website that clearly states that s/he will receive email marketing messages from you. Examples are: “sign up for our news letter”, “subscribe to our blog”, etc.
Example 2: Clicks on a link to confirm subscription on a confirmation email. For example they click on a sign up link or button in an email that says: “it was great meeting you at the trade show. Click on the link if you want to be added to the mailing list”
Example 3: Checks an unchecked box which says “sign me up for a newsletter”, while making a purchase.
When a relationship exists but the customer has not explicitly asked to receive emails from you. Itexpires 24 months after consent was given.
Example 1: After a customer purchased something from you.
Example 2: After they download a trial version of your software or a free product/service.
Example 3: After they hand you a business card at a trade show.
NOTE: all of those implied consents are good for you to keep on sending the emails but you must receive the expressed consent because you are required to have it by law. So the business card you were given at a trade show is not a legal proof of an expressed consent, because you cannot prove that you did not find the card on the floor as opposed to the individual handing it to you.
Here is what will be asked of you to prove that you have expressed consent: When they click the link, the date/time and IP stamp would be recorded as follows :
Name: Jon Smith E-mail: email@example.com
SignUpDateTime: 2014 -07 – 04 21:16:47.090 EST
IP : 188.8.131.52
It is sender’s responsibility to provide proof of consent and you at any point may be required to show proof for every single record so you better start keeping track of it right now.
All this really means is that you offer accurate and true information in your electronic correspondence and you provide legal contact information.
- Offer accurate and true information about your products and services.
- Include full postal address.
- Include a phone number, email address, or web address and ensure they are accurate and valid for a minimum of 60 days after sending the message.
- Offer unsubscribe link option.
In conclusion I just wanted to once more mention that this law, as scary as it may sound, is not here to limit your current business activity. CASL is designed to eliminate spam and that should not interfere with your business in any way.
There are a couple of steps to follow, but I am sure that most of you already do everything correctly and if not a little adjustment will be needed. I truly believe that with less spam, and therefore less emails in our inbox, we will become more attentive to the marketing messages we receive. This can only benefit any business as with less junk and fever emails coming in, we as consumers will be more receptive, and we as marketers will get more creative.