Although the Canadian Anti-Spam Law won’t take effect until the fall of 2014, there are some preparations you can make to ensure you are ready for it when it does. It might seem a bit early to be getting ready for a law that will not be enacted for another year or so, but you don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute and risk a hefty fine, either. Some of the suggestions below could take some time to put together, so it’s good to start planning for them now.
2. UPDATE LISTS: Before the law goes into effect, check through your database to determine whose consent would expire soon and reconfirm their consent for subsequent emails.
- If the contact is a customer who bought from you, reconfirm 30 to 60 days before their 2-year anniversary of purchase.
- If the contact inquired about your product or service, filled out an application or had another form of contact without buying, reconfirm them within 120 to 150 days after their initial contact.
- If you can’t actually prove consent from the contact, get it before you send them anything else (besides the request for consent).
- If the contact hasn’t opened or clicked on any of your communications for a long time, get their express consent before you send them anything after CASL’s effective date, even if they fall within the implied consent provision.
3. GET EXPRESS CONSENT: This is the most critical piece of information you must have. You have to be able to prove that you received consent from every Canadian contact. It is the heart of CASL and is one of the main differences between the Canadian and American laws. In the US you can send promotional emails to anyone whose email address you can obtain, and you can keep contacting them until they opt out. If your recipient is Canadian, however, you must obtain their express, or in some cases implied, consent before you send them the first word.
- Keep a record of everyone who contacts you through your website, the purpose of the communication and the result.
- Document the kind of relationship you have with each recipient – whether they signed up for your newsletter, bought from you, asked you for information, downloaded an offer, etc.
- If the consent they gave you isn’t electronic, make sure it is written. Oral consent is not enough for definitive proof without independent verification by a third party. (And can you count on that third party to remember and/or be available when you need them?).
4. USE A CLOSED-LOOP SUBSCRIPTION PROCESS: When someone subscribes to your mailing list, newsletter, blog, etc., send a welcome letter confirming their subscription. A double opt-in process prevents unauthorized sign-ups from becoming a problem. If the contact didn’t intend to sign up for your communications, they’ll let you know and you can take them off the list.
5. BE CLEAR AND KEEP IT SIMPLE:
- Make sure your sender name is clear and legitimate.
- Your subject line pertains to the content of the email and conversely, the content of the email is consistent with the subject line.
- NEVER send emails from a no-reply address.
- Include your postal address in your emails. This is not required by CAN-SPAM but is by CASL.
6. UNSUBSCRIBE: Make your unsubscribe mechanism easily found and user-friendly. We’ve all seen unsubscribe links that are so small and buried so deep in the fine print that you have to really hunt for them. Monitor the replies you receive by email since some people insist on direct communication instead of unsubscribing through a link.
These actions will get you ready for CASL as it is currently expected to look in a year. But enactment has already been delayed to work out details, so some provisions of the law may change in the interim. We’ll be keeping up with changes that may occur and will update you here. Subscribe to our blog for these updates and lots more.