On July 1, 2014, Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) went into effect. We sat down with Jennifer Noyes, Lead Delivery Specialist here at VerticalResponse to get the facts on how this legislation affects businesses that send emails. Here’s what you need to know:
1. What Canada’s anti-spam legislation is all about
According to Canada’s anti-spam legislation website, “The Act helps protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace.”
2. What you have to do to comply with the legislation
Noyes shared that The Act states your email must comply with these elements:
- All email addresses you send to must be permission-based, meaning the subscribers specifically opted-in to receive your communications. If you are not currently doing this, you can use an email sign up form to collect permission-based subscribers on your website, blog or social media networks.
- All emails must contain an easy-to-find unsubscribe link that is valid for 60 days. All unsubscribe requests must be done within 10 days or less and at no cost to the recipient.
- Your subject line must pertain to the content in the email. No part of the email message can be misleading or false.
- Identify your name and business, the name of anyone else on whose behalf you are sending the message, and a current mailing address. Also include a phone number, email address, or web address. Ensure they are accurate and valid for a minimum of 60 days after sending the message.
VerticalResponse is compliant with all elements of CASL. This is similar to CAN-SPAM and other laws around the world, and if you’re using an email service provider, you’re most likely in compliance, they all provide tools to help you meet these rules. One difference in CASL, and some of the European anti-spam laws, is the opt-in list piece:
All email addresses you send to must be permission-based, meaning the subscribers specifically opted-in to receive your communications. CASL allows for what they call “implied consent,” where you have a business relationship that would require contact. For example, customers, clients, donors, supporters, volunteers or members of an organization from within the past two years. They also allow you to mail to addresses that are published on websites, as long as there’s nothing saying not to send email.
3. What you need to understand regarding mailing lists
The biggest question regarding CASL revolves around lists and permission. Here’s what you need to know and understand about your lists:
To mail through VerticalResponse, your email addresses must be opted in, meaning they signed up in some way to receive your emails. You cannot use a purchased or rented list, and you can’t use an address you took from a website. Our rules are more strict than the laws out there, including CASL and CAN-SPAM, when it comes to lists.
- If you’re using an opt-in form you’re good, you have permission and you have proof of sign-up if you need it.
- If you’re mailing to your customers/donors/clients and have been for a while, you’re okay, but you may want to reconfirm consent. Especially if you aren’t sure when or where they signed up, or if you don’t have any record, in case you need proof.
- If you have a list that you’ve never mailed to and have no idea where it came from, then you won’t be able to mail it, either through VR or to people in Canada.
That wasn’t too tough, right? If you want to reconfirm opt-in, you can do so with your VR opt-in form. To set up an opt-in form, click through to our help site for more info. If you want to create a button that says something like, “Click to Confirm Your Interest,” or “Click to Remain on Our List,” at our free button site and include it in your emails or website. Link the button to your opt-in form. They won’t be duplicated in your lists.
You may want to create a list segment that contains only Canadian email addresses, and make sure you know where all the addresses came from. Use our segmentation tool to search your lists for addresses ending in .ca. You can email to any number of lists at one time, so you can use this list if you need it for your marketing.
Remember, to send an email through VerticalResponse, your recipients need to give permission before you send an email, so you can’t ask new people to confirm, if they haven’t already opted-in at some point.
If you have any doubts about how you obtained an email address, don’t mail to it. The CASL law has a grace period of two years built into it, so everyone gets a chance to make sure everything’s in place before they start enforcing the fines.
4. What to do if you’re business isn’t in Canada
If your business is located outside of Canada, this does not mean you’re exempt. If you’re sending email to anyone who resides in Canada, your sending practices must abide by CASL.
- Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation site has all of the details and this presentation from the folks at Return Path helps you prepare for CASL.
- Here are some FAQs about CASL
Here’s a handy infographic they created:
Note: The information in this post cannot be considered legal advice, and is not legally binding. For more updates about email marketing, check out our VR Marketing blog.