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How CASL affects your email marketing

On July 1, 2014, a Canadian law went into effect that changes which Canadian citizens you can send to. It’s Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, or CASL, and it applies to commercial messages sent to any Canadian citizen’s email address.

What is CASL, and how does it differ from U.S. law?

The United States’s Can-Spam law says your commercial message must include a physical address and an opportunity to opt out, but it does not require explicit or implied consent in order to send an email. CASL, in most cases, requires explicit, documented consent before you send. Explicit consent exists when a person is clearly given an option to opt in to receive messages and actively, directly gives that consent. Consent can also be implied in some situations with CASL. If a contact continues purchasing from your company, continues using your services in some way or continues subscribing to your magazine, consent to send messages can be implied. This implied consent is valid for two years after the subscription ends, or services have been rendered or purchased. If explicit consent hasn’t been given within those two years, you must discontinue email messaging.

There are some situations that don’t require explicit or implied consent, like if it’s pertinent to the contact’s business or it’s reasonable for them to expect to be contacted by you — for instance, a dentist who publishes his email on his website could reasonably expect to receive emails from someone who sells dental equipment. In these cases, you may communicate with them via email for a period of two years. Again, if explicit consent or implied consent is not obtained in that time, you must discontinue email messaging.

Does this apply to me?

Yes, if you have email addresses from Canada in your audience. CASL went into full effect July 1, 2014, with a grace period of three years given to acquire explicit consent from any of your current subscribers (collected before July 1, 2014) for which you only have implied consent. Many customers will not ever send an email governed by CASL.

However, this is an opportunity to be on the front-end of where we’re moving and what the people who are experiencing your emails are asking for. If you own a boutique in Florida, chances you’ll run into this are slim, given its geographic location. But this is the trend of where things are going, so it’s a great idea to go ahead and do this for your own marketing’s success, no matter your location. There is a formidable list of exceptions to CASL, and we encourage you to review those to ensure you take appropriate actions.

Data privacy is a topic of discussion, so while the laws in the United States are less restrictive now, the public’s reaction is that they like to know what’s happening with their information on the internet. CASL being passed is an international example of a government legislating more privacy rights, and similar laws will probably be considered in the United States and the rest of the world as the public debate on privacy continues.

Do you have me covered?

Our terms of use are compliant with U.S. Can-Spam laws, but you will eventually need to do a little more on your own to comply with CASL. Our policy for permission goes beyond Can-Spam’s requirements, but we’re more accepting of “implied consent” — like when someone provides their email address, but there’s no “I opt in to receive …” language. We accept that, if they’ve provided their email address to you, it’s reasonable to assume consent to receive email from you exists.

In many cases, CASL disagrees. Ultimately, it’s your list collection practices that determine whether or not you’re compliant with CASL. Features like signup forms, our API, search and segment, triggered welcome emails and our opt-in confirmation contact field can help you come into compliance and stay there.

How can I find and send to Canadian contacts in my audience?

Our segmenting tools should come in handy here. The right thing to do for any customers with Canadian addresses is to send an opt-in confirmation mailing before July 1, 2017. Some might even advocate making more than one attempt during the three-year grace period. You can work our opt-in confirmation link into your regular mailings to give people the maximum number of opportunities to give consent, without being really overbearing. Keep in mind that if someone disputes the opt-in, the government will ask you for at least the timestamp for the confirmation of the subscription.

You can create a segment in your account to find all email addresses ending in .ca, or by finding Canadian physical addresses if you collect that information, and then click here to read about sending an opt-in confirmation mailing.

What’s the risk if I don’t take action?

We expect you to be CASL compliant. We monitor abuse complaints for our network of IPs and will reach out to any customer who receives complaints related to CASL compliance. Don’t worry: If you hear from us, we’ll come into that conversation ready to help. It’s up to you to build your list in a compliant way in the first place. We don’t collect IP address information, so if your contact doesn’t click the opt-in confirmation link, we can’t guarantee explicit consent will be recognized.

If you’re asking people for their email address, make sure they know what they’ll receive, when they’ll receive it and from whom they’ll be receiving. If you can show that the point of email address collection explicitly defines how that email will be used and that the member explicitly asked to receive your emails, you should be compliant. If it doesn’t, or there’s some other problem with your collection, CASL allows for substantial per-recipient penalties, both from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission as well as private action by recipients.

And if you heed our advice and plan for the housekeeping steps we’ve outlined here, you should be on the right side of Canadian law.

 

If you're not sure your email program is compliant, we can help. In fact, we've created a CASL Compliance service, in which a Service Specialist will come up with a strategy for your Canadian recipients. We'll even create all the opt-in messages to send to your Canadian audience, so all you have to do is push "Send." Reach out today.

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