Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) & what it means for your business

By now you’ve likely heard about the new CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation) law, which took effect July 1st. There’s been a lot of talk about how this may or may not affect small businesses in particular, as email marketing is a large part of their overall digital marketing strategy. So what exactly does the new CASL mean to your business?

First a bit of background on CASL…

CASL 2014

CASL 2017

You can only send email messages to recipients:

  • that have already opted in with “express consent” — in plain English that means they’ve opted in somewhere on your website — or
  • whose implied consent is currently valid under CASL — these are the folks that have purchased from you within the past 24 months, or who have inquired about your services within six months.

Here are the issues I see with this…

Small businesses are now under the gun to convert prospects into customers within six months. After that, they’re no longer allowed to communicate digitally without getting renewed consent. But what if your sales lead time is longer than six months?

The second issue is that small businesses are now having to find new ways to track all their prospects and customers down to the day they first made contact. That’s a lot of extra busy work to put on small businesses who are already bogged down with time-consuming administrative tasks. The CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) offers up some unhelpful advice on what they call “good record-keeping practices”:

  • identify potential non-compliance issues
  • investigate and respond to consumer complaints
  • identify the need for corrective actions
  • demonstrate that these corrective actions were implemented
  • establish a due diligence defense in the case of a violation of CASL

My third issue with this is that it’s opening up the floodgates for get-rich-quick scammers to start bringing lawsuits to those who’ve unknowingly (and likely innocently) sent them a digital message. The result? Our courts will fill up with time-wasting lawsuits, and small business owners will be crippled by legal defence fees. All that’s in addition to taking away their ability to digitally communicate with their prospects.

What about email addresses that are clearly listed on websites?

  • There is no statement in connection with the address that the person does not want to receive messages at that address; and
  • The content of your message is relevant to the recipient’s business, role, functions, or duties in a business or official capacity.

How is the CASL enforced?

Make sure your unsubscribe option is clear and functioning:

With respect to the “issuing notices of violations,” you’re on your own to interpret that. All I can see (for 2014–17) are companies who’ve been cited for calling numbers on the Do Not Call List (DNCL) and/or using Automatic Dialing-Announcing Devices (ADADs).

What does CASL mean for your business?

I believe the task of monitoring leads should fall on the email marketing and list management folks, like MailChimp and Aweber, to automatically alert businesses when subscribers are approaching their two year or six month due dates. At least this would give them time to send a follow up opt-in message to keep their lists clean and compliant.

What do you think? If you have a brilliant way to simplify this entire process for SMBs and corporate giants alike, I’d love to hear it!

Independent #SEO #Copywriter | Content Marketing Manager