Yesterday was a momentous day in Canada. Not only was it Canada Day (think 4th of July, only much more circumspect), but our new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) became, well, law.
Before you start hyperventilating like I did when I first read about it, I want you to know that you have THREE YEARS to come into compliance. That’s until July 1, 2017.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to examine your email list and make sure that you are in compliance with the new Canadian Anti Spam Legislation (CASL). Here’s the major things you need to know:
1. You MUST have CONSENT
This is the most tricky of the new requirements and I think that there is still a lot left to interpretation. Here’s my (personal) opinion: In order to send someone an email that is commercial in nature, in other words a commercial electronic message (CEM), you need to have proof that they have asked to be on your list and therefore have given you their consent to email them CEMs.
CASL defines two different types of consent: IMPLIED and EXPRESS.
Implied consent basically means that consent was not expressly given but rather implied by nature of the relationship. In order for you to establish implied consent, you must prove that an existing relationship was entered into within the last two years.
Like, when I’m eating Caesar salad the Beard will always eat my croutons. I don’t need to tell him to, he just knows that I hate those crunchy little shriveled store-bought croutons and I don’t have enough time to make yummy home made ones so he does me the favour and eats them for me. Off my plate. Without asking.
That’s OK in my marriage because it’s IMPLIED that I hate the croutons anyway so he eats them. It saves words.
Now if we were to go out for dinner and he started picking croutons of some poor unsuspecting stranger’s plate, there would be no relationship and therefore no implied consent.
That’s NOT OK when it comes to sending email. CASL will slap you on the hand before you can put that starchy cardboard MSG cube in your mouth.
Express consent is like the Beard asking “Jamie, would you like me to eat your croutons for you?” and me answering “Yes, I would like you to take these disgusting things off my plate – forever.” Doesn’t that sound dreamy?
In real life CASL terms that means that a person is given the opportunity to confirm that they want to receive email from you. Usually by way of an opt-in form. This is my favourite kind of consent because it is full of respect and there are no grey areas.
Bottom line? Express consent is sexy.
2. You MUST identify yourself
In all of your pretty little marketing email messages you must have your name, company name, and your address clearly accessible. I know, this extra info can sometimes be a bummer to add, especially if it doesn’t fit your design. But you’re brilliant! You’ll figure it out. And if you can’t, contact me and I will.
3. You MUST give a clear option to unsubscribe
This third requirement is right up there with #1. It’s all about consent, baby. True consent also means it’s OK to say no. Make it easy for folks to change their minds by having a clear unsubscribe option on every email.
The Good News
If you’ve been using a reputable email marketing program like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Awebber, Ontraport, etc, you’re probably in compliance!!
YUP, you heard that right! If you received consent before July 1st, 2014 you have to do NOTHING. Except pat yourself on the back for following best practices and all.
But what if most of the folks on your list gave you consent but a small portion did not? For example, you were involved in a craft show as a vendor and part of your vendor perk pack was a list of email addresses of all the folks who attended. Bummer. That’s not really consent! I’m sure you could make an argument for implied consent but really, that just seems icky. You’ll need to ask those folks for their express consent – good thing it’s pretty easy to do.
If you’re like me you have been INUNDATED with requests to confirm your subscription to countless email marketing lists in the past month. And if you are like the person in the above example, you’re probably pretty nervous about the implications of asking your entire list to re-opt-in. Is there a way to do the right AND not bother the folks who already gave you express consent?
You betcha! But it’s different with each provider:
How to get express consent where you need it – CASL
- MailChimp: helpful tips on how to get into compliance with CASL using MailChimp
- Constant Contact: all about CASL and how to comply with Constant Contact lists
- Aweber: Keep your Aweber account in compliance with CASL
- Ontraport: How Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law Will Affect You
More resources on CASL
- FightSPAM.ca – Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation website
- Watch it from the horse’s mouth: a super long, super dry, but comprehensive video produced by the CRTC on CASL
- CASL: Implied vs. Express consent
- Constant Contact: An awesome primer on how to get in compliance
- Tech Soup: 9 Things Nonprofits Need to Know About CASL
And if you haven’t heard enough yet, here’s a really short boring video from the CRTC: