Canada’s Impending Anti-Spam Legislation: What You Need to Know to Be Prepared

In the next six months, we expect to hear the final regulations on the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). Since this date is quickly approaching, I spoke to one of the leading experts on CASL, Neil Schwartzman, executive director of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE).

According to Schwartzman, there will be some challenges, including an additional expense to make sure email marketers are compliant with the impending regulations. More importantly, however, marketers need to understand the implications of these new regulations now before enforcement begins.

Schwartzman provides the following tips to help email marketers become CASL compliant:

  • start collecting time and date stamps of opt-ins;
  • collect screen shots of disclosure language;
  • don’t send to those who didn’t opt in; and
  • request opt-ins from those who have purchased (up to two years ago).

Pre-checked opt-in boxes
Pre-checked opt-in boxes have been gaining popularity recently, making it the visitor or buyer’s responsibility to take the action to unclick the box to opt out. If CASL has its way, opt-in boxes will need to be unchecked or removed completely. Schwartzman hopes this will be re-examined as the terms are poorly defined in the current version of the proposed legislation. “It’s defined as either an unchecked box or not a box at all, which is wrong,” said Schwartzman. While the industry continues to advise against a pre-checked opt-in during checkout, losing an opt-in box would greatly hurt list growth.

Q: What advice would you give marketers who have collected email addresses with a pre-checked box or with unclear permissions?
NS: If the addresses were collected via purchase list or append, there’s no permission and these addresses shouldn’t be in your list at all. You should also remove people from your list who haven’t interacted with your messages in the past six months. Email marketers aiming to improve deliverability shouldn’t be looking at just open rates, they should also be focused on clickthrough rates and getting customers to purchase again. To be safe, give these recipients another chance to opt in.

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