Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law

Canadian Anti Spam LegislationLast week, a bunch of articles and blog posts were published on Canada’s new anti-spam legislation. Some authors provided analysis of the new law and others lamented the new rules by which organizations must adhere to when marketing their goods and services within Canada. Of course, this law is more concerning to those of us who do business in Canada but there are some key takeaways worth noting from the law that are good business practices worth implementing today no matter where you conduct business.

The final regulations and the July 1, 2014 implementation deadline for the Canadian Anti-Spam Litigation (CASL) were released last week. According to the CASL website, the new law will prohibit the following:

  • Sending of commercial electronic messages without the recipient’s permission (including messages to email addresses, social networking accounts and text messages)
  • Alteration of transmission data in an electronic message which results in the message being delivered to a different destination without permission
  • Installation of computer programs without the permission of the computer system owner or its agent (i.e., an authorized employee)
  • Use of false or misleading online representations in the promotion of products or services
  • Collection of personal information through accessing a computer system in violation of federal law
  • Collection of electronic addresses by the use of computer programs or the use of such addresses, without permission (a.k.a. address harvesting)

CASL will force a more permission-based approach to e-mail and associated forms of electronic communication. To the consumer, that’s a good thing and I think most of us agree it’s the ideal approach. Permission-based marketing requires marketers to create more customized and relevant messages to consumers. Right On Interactive is an advocate of permission-based email marketing, and our clients certify they will use our software only to send e-mails to contacts who directly consent (opt-in) to receive their e-mail. Clients are forbidden to transmit unsolicited commercial e-mail, or spam, via the ROI platform.

Again, I’m sure we can agree that customized, relevant content is what consumers want and it’s what we, as marketers, should strive to provide in every message and campaign. However, it’s difficult to create this kind of content when you don’t have necessary data on consumers to craft more targeted offers and content. And now in Canada, you can’t get that data unless you ask first.

Here are some guidelines from our team of lifecycle marketing consultants on how companies can ensure compliance with anti-spam law no matter where you do business…

  • Ensure all forms include an option for contacts to opt-in to receive messages
  • Include opt-in consent reminder in all messages (i.e., “You are receiving this email communication because you provided us with your email address and consented to receiving emails from our company…”)
  • Provide your organization’s physical mailing address in email communication
  • Avoid headers, subject lines and sender information which is misleading or questionable
  • Provide an obvious unsubscribe option in each message
  • Do not change transmission data