email spamThis month, the Canadian Anti-Spam Leglslation (CASL) came into effect. If you send email messages in order to directly or indirectly promote your content, then you need to know what this law entails.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that CASL only applies to publishers who live in Canada. It actually applies to anyone who sends commercial email messages to Canadians. If just one person on your email list lives in Canada or opens your email message in Canada (or if someone joins your list in the future who is has a Canadian email address), then you need to understand CASL.

In simplest terms, any email address that you acquire for email marketing after July 1, 2014 must have documentation with it that proves express (e.g., opt-in form submitted) or implied (e.g., purchased a product from you at some point in time thereby establishing a business relationship) consent.

Keep in mind, implied consent doesn’t exist in perpetuity. At least once every two years, the person on your list who qualified to be on it through implied consent must make another purchase or act in another way to extend the business relationship.

Furthermore, you should take this law seriously. The penalties for the worst violations of CASL can be very expensive. Fines can go up to $1 million for individuals and up to $10 million for businesses.

What Should Authoritative Content Publishers Do to Comply with CASL?

There are 10 steps you can take immediately in order to avoid legal problems related to CASL:

  1. Make sure your email opt-in form is very clear in stating that messages sent to list members may be of a commercial nature.
  2. Consider using double opt-in rather than single opt-in processes.
  3. Include a question in your sign-up form asking if the email address ends with .ca (to make it easier to identify them in your database).
  4. Include a question in your sign-up form that asks people to identify whether or not the email address they supply is associated with a physical address or phone number in Canada.
  5. Ensure all email messages you send to your list include an opt-out mechanism and remove email addresses that unsubscribe within 10 days.
  6. Make sure your email messages clearly identify the sender.
  7. All email messages should identify if the message or any parts are included for marketing or income-generation (i.e., they are commercial).
  8. Develop a process to scrub your subscriber list to remove email addresses that were added previously through implied consent but are no longer valid.
  9. Create a process to prove that you received express or implied consent from every person in your email list.
  10. If there are already people from Canada or with Canadian email addresses on your list, send a special message to them asking them to confirm that they have opted in to receive messages from you so you have their consent on file.

Below is an infographic with more tips, and be sure to follow the link at the beginning of the article to visit the official CASL site for all of the details.

CASL infographic

Image: Pete licensed CC BY 2.0