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What you need to know about the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

In July 2014 Canada’s new anti-spam legislation comes into effect

Email Marketing in CanadaThis is something that is hugely important for anyone in the digital marketing world to be aware of, but in particular email marketers. This focuses particularly on the consent from recipients, and will be far more aggressive than other laws on what counts as valid consent (opting someone in to receive your emails). It also ensures that content is relevant and applicable to the recipient.

However, it isn’t just emails that will be affected. This will cover all commercial electronic messages, which are “any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity, regardless of whether there is an expectation of profit.” This can be anything from email, to SMS, to social media messages, meaning that this legislation is far more broad than others such as CAN-SPAM which are just targeted at emails.

It could cost you $10 million

If you are emailing to, or from, Canada this is well worth looking into to ensure you are not going to be breaking the law. The enforcement of this law will be the responsibility of three government agencies, and if you are found to not comply you could be eligible for a fine of up to $10 million (around £6 million) and face criminal charges.

The main focus for email marketers with this legislation should be data and in particular how data is opted-in, as this will change drastically from what was legal previously. As before you are still required to include an unsubscribe link and must make sure that it is clear who the email is from. What counts as consent, allowing someone to be opted in to receive emails, is changing.

Now all marketers must have express consent from a recipient prior to sending them commercial emails. Implied consent does count in some cases still but is vastly different from what was previously acceptable. Any email sent because of an existing relationship; any email sent to someone who has willingly published their email address online or given it to the sender without saying they do not want to receive CEMs, can all still count as implied consent.

Implied consent will now be invalid if a recipient does not become a client after six months, and after two years if a client is no longer active. This means now more than ever it is important to keep data up to date and active. Pre – selected tick boxes and agreeing to receive emails in terms and conditions is now not allowed either. An opt-in must be expressed by a manual action (ticking the box or inputting an email address) by the recipient. For further information on this, as well as a step-by-step guide showing if this legislation applies to you and if your email conforms to this legislation check out this great blog by Brad van der Woerd at Yesmail.

Compliance

It is also important to make sure that you review the other aspects of the legislation to ensure you comply:

  • Content: you cannot use false or misleading representations online in the promotion of products or services
  • Destination: you cannot alter the transmission data and deliver the email to a different destination without prior consent
  • Installation  of programmes: the owner of a computer system or agent (e.g. employee) must give consent for programmes to be installed
  • Collection of information: you cannot collect personal information by accessing computer systems and you must have permission to collect addresses using a computer programme and to use such addresses

More information on this as well as some FAQs can be found here.

It is important to assess whether this affects you and if it does take action now to ensure you are compliant with the CASL!

Even if this does not directly affect you, this could also mean a move to stricter laws by other governments so it could be worth making some changes to your emails anyway. In general this legislation promotes more targeted and relevant emails for recipients so it is worth looking into how you could improve yours to reflect this.

What you should do

  • Review your opt-in processes – is consent explicit and is it clear what someone is signing up to? This will ensure you aren’t sending emails to people who do not want to receive them
  • Use a custom from address with an authenticated domain so it is clear who the email is sent from. This also gives consistent branding and can improve deliverability
  • Remember to include an unsubscribe link and company information as this is a legal requirement (not just in Canada!). It is also best practice to include some information in the footer of your email to say who the email is from and why someone is receiving it. This can help to reduce unsubscribe rates
  • Is your email content relevant and targeted? Ensure the subject line is relevant to the content and that the content is relevant to the reason someone is being emailed. This will keep recipients engaged and improve open and click rates
  • Is your data still active? Keep recipients engaged and active. If you are concerned some of your data no longer is, get them re-involved with your brand by sending a series of reactivation campaigns

And if you still aren’t sure about spam? Take this quick quiz to see how much you really know about it!

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