What You Need to Know About Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

Let this be a warning to any and all businesses that send marketing communications via text or email, you could end up paying $10 million in fines for violating CASL – and that’s per violation.  The marketing world should take notice as this applies to anyone sending marketing communications to Canadian recipients, whether your business is in Canada or not.

Canada is enforcing a strict opt-in requirement on any and all electronic communications; email, SMS text messaging and social media messaging.  This means that as a business or individual, you will need to prove that all Canadian prospects on your lists opted-in to continual marketing.  I have compiled a list of tips to keep your business from one of those hefty Canadian fines.

So what does this mean for Brands and Small Businesses?

Brands need to:

  • Educate local partners about why and how to stay on the right side of the rules
  • Build marketing materials/forms for your local partners/ locations that are compliant.
  • Provide a mechanism for partners to be able to access proof of consent for opt-ins and unsubscribe.
  • Provide brand level as well as location/ partner level opt in and unsubscribe functionality.

SMBs need to:

  • Review your contact lists and ensure you have consent either expressed (via opt-in) or implied. Implied consent means that if you have conducted a business transaction with an individual, it is implied for 2 years that they would welcome communications from your business, but you do need to get explicit consent to market to them.
    Example- Let’s say you are an ecommerce business that puts all customers that have completed a sale on an email list to provide them with deals, or information on products related to a specific purchase they made. You need to ask the contact explicitly at the time of purchase to put them on your list.
  • Use opt-in consent methods when capturing any contact information.
  • You must provide a method for the contact to unsubscribe/opt out of future messages.  This is standard best practice now, but it bears repeating. Once a contact is opted out, the contact must be removed from your marketing lists ASAP.
  • The onus is now on the any company to prove that the contact has opted into a campaign. It is one thing to get this opt in permission, and yet another to record this action, and save it. If a complaint is filed it will be your responsibility as the company to prove consent.
  • Integrate your contact list information across mediums. If a contact unsubscribes from “all communications” from an email, then you need to ensure that you don’t send them a text message a month later.
  • Use best practices and common sense when maintaining your records. Keep all unsubscribe and subscribe information, as well as demographic information when possible. The more organized and up to date your lists are, the better you can market to them, and you are less likely to make a mistake.
  • Implement a communications preference page so that your contacts can choose the timing, frequency and medium they receive marketing communications.
  • Ask unsubscribers “Why are you unsubscribing?” and use this information to drive future campaigns. Learn from your mistakes and improve because of them.

If you follow these simple tasks, you should be able to avoid a business killing fine from the Canadian government. They will also make you a better marketer.


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