Is Your Business At Risk of Violating New Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation?
Email consent compliance has been important for businesses to understand—and adhere to—for more than a decade. Essentially, existing legislation in the United States (known as CAN-SPAM) requires companies to get clear and very specific consent (or opt-in) from prospects and customers before they begin sending direct marketing messages to their inbox.
Email consent compliance has been important for businesses to understand—and adhere to—for more than a decade. Following the passage of legislation called CAN-SPAM in the United States in 2003, companies have been required to follow a few strict email marketing guidelines—namely, telling recipients where they’re located, how to opt out of receiving future emails and promptly honoring all opt-out requests.
By adopting those requirements, companies could mostly rest assured that they were in compliance with U.S. law. But now, thanks to Canada's new anti-spam legislation, which takes effect July 1, VARs with Canadian customers will need to be even more careful about how they communicate via email with them.
While the soon-to-be-enacted CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) provides a three-year transitional period when companies may continue sending emails to existing contacts where implied consent can be documented, the bill stipulates that, beginning July 1, businesses must secure explicit consent from all new contacts before they send any marketing emails to those Canadian residents. And, beginning July 1, 2017, companies may ONLY send email to Canadian residents who have explicitly provided their consent.
Essentially, the goal of CASL, which is being labeled the most aggressive anti-spam legislation in the world, is to totally eliminate deceptive email practices by forcing businesses to secure express (as opposed to implied) consent before sending any marketing emails to Canadian citizens.
What’s the difference between express and implied consent? Basically, express consent is obtained when you directly, clearly, and explicitly ask contacts for their permission to send email messages and they clearly agree to that request. Without those conditions being met, you cannot send Canadian citizens any marketing messages.
If you’re a VAR with any Canadian customers or prospects, it’s critical that you understand what that means. Here are a couple of key points from the Canadian government’s CASL information site:
- Unlike CAN-SPAM (which requires email marketers to follow an “opt-out model”), CASL will enforce an “opt-in” model that forces businesses to secure expressed, explicit consent from individuals before they ever send a direct email message.
- The law will also impact companies that interact with customers and prospects via text message or social networking, requiring those businesses to (again) secure expressed, explicit consent from the individual to communicate via those mediums.
- For express consent to be achieved, your business must use clear language and fully inform each contact of some key details: the name of the company that will be emailing them and the name of the email marketing vendor that will be delivering those emails, as well as the company’s address, phone number, website and postal address.
So, aside from directly adhering to those requirements, what can your VAR business do to protect itself against potentially violating this new law?
Hold yourself accountable to the tried and true practice of securing a double opt-in.
Simply put, the double opt-in process delivers a series of confirmations and response emails that require customers to explicitly consent to receiving your emails. Typically, this involves a customer signing up for your emails via a form or field on your website and then clearly consenting to that subscription by clicking a confirmation link in a follow-up email.
If they don’t open that email or click that confirmation link, they won’t be added to your contact list, which ultimately protects you against violating the CASL law. This process is beneficial for another reason, too: When contacts are willing to go through a multi-step process to double opt-in, it demonstrates that they really do want to receive your content. And, naturally, that helps you build an email list that is populated only with people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say and sell.
Still feel a little unsure about the nuanced differences between implied and express consent? Feel free to leave a question in the comments section below. And come back to this space next week to get three tips for leveraging the double opt-in process to build a high-quality list of consenting contacts.
Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the newly released book “The Sales Magnet” and the award winning book “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.