First off, don’t be in a panic about July 1, 2014.
(Unless you are sending unsolicited nonsense to mass recipients without providing “a way out”… then God help you)
In the past few weeks we have been receiving questions from our clients about sending out emails to their contacts in an effort to be CASL compliant. It appears that many corporations are taking a “sledge hammer” approach in a knee-jerk reaction to this legislation and sending out mass messages to their clientele and contacts. Their goal is to confirm with everyone in their list that they have indeed given express consent to continue to
spam them send valuable marketing messaging to them in the future. We think that’s bad for brands and super annoying.
We have done a lot of research to find out what it actually means for our clients to be CASL complaint… and surprise, what we recommend is a more strategic approach.
The first thing to note is that most (if not all) of our clients are already using a proper email list management solution such as MailChimp or Constant Contact. This is probably the largest step toward becoming compliant (depending on how they initially setup/acquired their email list and imported it). These services track sign-up information, so you can provide that if it ever comes into question. They also offer templates that present the originating company’s address and an easily accessible unsubscribe link. These are key aspects to being CASL compliant.
Regarding complacency on the email list itself, the main thing we’re working with our clients to establish is whether or not the individuals currently within their lists have already given implicit consent. This by virtue of the fact that they have had past communications about something (such as membership or a business transaction), provided their email address and therefore have been added to the list database.
For these people, (from what we’ve read) you don’t need to have their explicit consent until July 1, 2017 (see the section labeled “Transition” on the Government of Canada’s CASL FAQs). As a path to least resistance, what we recommend doing is adding a clause to your membership/contractual agreement where it explicitly informs them that you are requesting their email address to add them to your membership email list and that they can unsubscribe any time. Please look up other articles outlining other strategic recommendations to accommodate this requirement over the next months and years. Please do not spam your members, constituents or customers in a panic demanding consent.
Many of our clients also have people on their list who registered through the website subscription form. This means they have already given explicit consent to send them messages (which MailChimp has a record of, if this ever comes into question), so you don’t need to bother them to ask for it again.
Other than the government’s own website that does a fairly good job of express consent versus implied consent, a great article to quickly read through is up on MailChimp’s website. It explains all of this and allows most of our client rest easy that they’ve already been compliant to CASL (and it’s predecessor from 2011).
Another resource that explains the implications of the July 1, 2014 date vs the July 1, 2017 date is Constant Contact’s FAQ page on “What does the Canadian Anti-Spam law mean when it talks about implied and express permission?”
Still confused about your situation? Give us a call or email us and we’ll talk through it.