Does all the buzz about Canada’s upcoming changes in Anti-SPAM legislation have you scratching your head and wondering how it will effect your small business?  Don’t worry – you’re not the only one. If you use email marketing in your business here’s what you need to know to ensure that you don’t unwittingly break the law.

Canada’s Anti-SPAM Legislation, or CASL, is an over-arching law that is designed to protect Canadians from unwanted and unsolicited email. The law itself was passed back in December 2010, and finally takes effect this coming Canada Day.  Said to be the toughest Anti-SPAM law on the books, the legislation essentially forbids companies – large or small – from sending out commercial electronic communications to recipients without their permission; recipients must be given a clear way to unsubscribe from mailing lists, and failure to honour unsubscribe requests can result in tough penalties.  So, if you use email marketing, it means that you’re going to have to figure out who should and shouldn’t be on your mailing lists before July 1.

The main thing you need to figure out is “express consent” vs “implied consent.” Express consent means that someone has directly expressed a desire to receive communications from you. This can be obtained by email, in writing or through a sign-up form.  Implied consent is any assumed consent based on an existing relationship, be it business, non-business or personal, or anyone that you have done business with in the past two years.

For the time being, contacts who are on your mailing list through implied consent are OK, but you have to ensure that ALL contacts have given express consent by July 2017.  So why the urgency now? Well, it’s a bit tricky… you see, any email asking for consent after July 1 is breaking the CASL law (I know!)  So it’s best to deal with it now and avoid problems down the road.

Here’s how you can get prepared:

Get express consent
Take a look at your current list. Who is on that list? Do you have express or implied consent to contact them? If the majority of them are implied, this is a great time to clean-up your list.  If they are already express consent, then you’re ahead of the game!

Follow-up with the contacts who didn’t express consent and ask if they’d like to receive correspondence from you in the future, and include a link that allows them to easily say yes or no. Take buy cymbalta in uk that opportunity to collect some more information from them – find out what kind of correspondence they’d like to receive, get their full names, even addresses if you’d like. Create a simple email that clearly explains that you are giving the recipient the opportunity to remain on your list or opt out.

Here is an example of what that email should say:

We need your consent!

In anticipation of Canada’s upcoming anti-spam legislation coming into force on July 1, 2014, we are asking for your express consent to continue to send you these communications.

Please click below to continue receiving emailed communications of this nature from (YOUR COMPANY NAME). If we do not receive your consent we may be unable to continue sending you communications.

I consent (LINK TO EMAIL OR TO LIST INFORMATION MANAGEMENT PAGE)

(FINE PRINT)

You will be able to withdraw your consent at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link contained below, which will also be included in all future messages.

Compliance with identification and unsubscribe mechanism requirements
From here on out, all businesses MUST include an unsubscribe link on all electronic emails; and businesses must honour all unsubscribe requests. In addition to the unsubscribe option, the business must also include valid contact information in the emailer. If you are using an email management tool such as Constant Contact, MailChimp or CakeMail, this is already taken care of for you, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about it.

What else can you do?

Look at July 1 as an opportunity to start fresh! From that date on, focus on gaining contacts through sign-up. Add a sign-up form to your website and encourage people to sign-up for updates. You can use any number of incentives to drive subscribers, such as give-aways, discounts, exclusive content, and so on. Once a person signs-up for updates, you have their expressed consent, and you have the opt-ins to back it up. Then all you have to worry about is providing quality, engaging content.

The main thing is not to worry so much about the folks who ask to be taken off your contact list. The best list is a list that wants to hear from you.

Get more information on CASL by visiting the Government of Canada’s CASL website.

Would you like help in managing your email marketing?
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