One of the best ways to develop a following for your brand online and in person is to have a well developed e-mail strategy and an ever-growing list of contacts. In the crowded online world, e-mail marketing remains a one-on-one platform for reaching your customers. Through the right platform, e-mail marketing is also as trackable for engagement as paid ads online.
If e-mail marketing is currently part of your overall strategy online, you’ve likely heard the term CASL gain traction in the past few weeks. CASL is short for the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation, a new initiative to reduce the amount of unwanted e-mail traffic that Canadian consumers receive. You may also have heard that it will be in effect as of July 1st (Yay Canada Day!) and that fines for violations could potentially run corporations into the millions of dollars.
Unsurprisingly, the law has raised a lot of controversy in the online marketing world, and concern from those who keep in touch with their customers through regular newsletters. So, what’s a business to do? We’ll break down what the new laws mean for your e-mail strategy.
Essentially the new law states that any Commercial Electronic Message (CEM for short, referring to any message promoting a product, service, company or organization) that is sent to a Canadian computer must only be sent if the following criteria were met when an e-mail address was obtained:
- A description of messages that will be sent was stated
- The name and contact information of the sender was provided, including physical mailing address, phone number, and email address or site URL
- A statement was made that the recipient may unsubscribe at any time.
Each message that is sent must also include all of the above information from the sender, and an easy way to unsubscribe. Some exceptions to the rules above allow companies to contact customers without meeting these requirements if:
- A purchase was made by the customer in the last two years
- An inquiry was sent to the company within the last six months
Basically, the law pushes companies to provide transparency in how they use customer e-mails, right from when e-mails are collected. So what about all of your current e-mail lists? Do you have tens of thousands of contacts you keep in touch with regularly? You can keep sending messages to your existing contacts for three years (Until July 1st, 2017), however if you haven’t re-confirmed their consent to your messages in the matter outlined above, the law would require you to stop contacting them after that.
Many large companies have already pro-actively sent a note re-confirming each of their subscriber’s interest in receiving ongoing mail. E-mail marketing software (the leading providers being MailChimp and ConstantContact) are also implementing new features to help you stay compliant. At this time we’re not sure what the effect will be on other social media communication (if any), but we’ll update you if we find out more.
As complicated as the policy may initially seem, keep in mind that the goal is to ensure all e-mails being sent to Canadian consumers are done transparently. While you may worry about the size of your e-mail list shrinking when complying to the new rules, the contacts that remain will be the ones which add the most value to your business (and hopefully will be receiving less irrelevant mail from other sources, so that they can focus on your message).
As always, we’re available to help any any aspect of growing your business online. Get in touch with us!