The final phase of the Canadian Anti-Spam law (CASL) and what your business should do.
July 1st, 2017
Why is this date important?
The Canadian Anti-Spam Law was launched on July 1st, 2014 and all businesses are currently expected to be compliant and follow the rules of the law since that date.
However, the government put into place a transition period which allowed all businesses the ability to have a ‘grandfathered’ implied consent status for email addresses collected prior to when the law came into effect. These emails were provided with a 3-year expiry date so that companies had sufficient time to capture the express consent of these individuals.
This 3-year expiry date is now coming due as of July 1st and it may have a significant impact on your business email marketing and sales activities.
In addition, as of July 1st, the right to private action will also come into effect and this will result in lawsuits on behalf of consumers and businesses for companies that are clearly violating the CASL rules. This elevates the importance for businesses to manage their CASL compliance properly. Aggressive and opportunistic lawyers will act quickly to identify and pursue class action suits against companies that are not organized and do not take the Anti-Spam Law seriously.
What should your business do?
First of all, have you ensured that all current methods of email collection have up-to-date CASL compliant verbiage and processes to capture proper consent?
- This includes the ability to store when and where the email was collected, the type of consent and whether or not it has an expiry date.
Additionally, you must ensure that all emails that are considered ‘Commercial Electronic Messages’ (CEMs) sent from your business contain the following requirements in order to be CASL compliant:
- Ensure that you have a current and valid consent type of the email recipient
- Clearly identify your business in the email message
- Provide a method where the recipient can contact you
- Provide a working unsubscribe process
Once you have these basics covered then you can turn your attention to determining the impact of the upcoming CASL date on your expiring email addresses.
Start by analyzing your email contacts by consent type, source, and dates.
If you have done due diligence prior to the launch of CASL in terms of setting up processes to assign and manage proper consent types to email addresses, then this should be a relatively straightforward exercise.
However, if you have not taken steps to attach this type of data as well as create processes to keep them up to date then you have much more important work to complete in order to ensure that your organization and email messages that you send are CASL compliant.
Once you have your email data all together with up-to-date CASL information then you can spend some time to aggregate the data to answer some basic questions.
Here is what you are trying to answer and why….
- Understand the number of implied consents and percentage of your database that was collected prior to the launch of CASL – July 1st, 2014.
- With this information, you will be able to quickly determine how many email contacts on your database will no longer be emailable for marketing and sales purposes as of this July.
- Questions to consider while conducting this exercise?
- Has your business been keeping track of and updating all existing email addresses since the launch of CASL with the properly consent type and status date? including updating customer email address consent status based upon their last purchase activity?
- Do your sales teams and other employees that send CEM’s track and update where and when they collect email addresses and update your corporate email database for CASL compliance management?
Now that you have identified how many email addresses you will no longer be able to message due to expiring consent you at least have an idea on how it will truly impact your email communications.
For some businesses that have a high-frequency pattern of new customer acquisition and reoccurring sales of products and services (i.e. grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.) the upcoming CASL date may not have a significant impact as long as they have their fundamental compliance processes in place.
However, for industries and businesses with long sales cycles between customer engagement and purchases (i.e. automotive dealers, home sales, etc.) that rely heavily upon email communications it is possible that a large quantity of expiring CASL consents could have a negative effect on business results. Perhaps not immediately but possibly in the near future when an individual is in need of that product or service.
The next step to take in evaluating the impact CASL consent expires should be to find out whether or not those email addresses are actually relevant to your business or not.
It is one thing to know that a significant number of emails may be expiring but if these emails are not active then the loss of these contacts would be negligible anyway.
Continue to analyze the email contacts with expiring consent….
- Understand how many messages have been sent to these email contacts in the past 6, 12, 24, or even 36 months if it makes sense for your business.
- How many of these individuals are former customers vs. just leads or potential customers? Former customers have more value because of their likelihood to repurchase from you again.
- Of the emails sent, how much engagement or activity from the expiring contacts did you receive? Opens? Clicks? Website activity? Other channel interactions?
- With this information, you will have a much better indication of the value of the expiring email contacts to your business. How many and what percentage are truly worth time and effort to try and reach out to capture express consent? Should your business allocate resources to come up with a campaign or program to reach out to these individuals?
Only you and the people you work with can determine the risk of expiring CASL consents to your business. It may be well worth it to try and get as many expiring email contacts as possible to provide their express consent status. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a comprehensive consent collection program leveraging automation, timing and context has proven to be far more effective than one-off out of the blue requests that end up being ignored.
A strong and consistent email communication program with personalized, targeted and relevant content will keep your email contacts engaged so that you have the opportunity to convert implied consent status to expressed consent. When you have a program that caters to the interests of your audience then building and managing a strong and healthy email database with valid consent becomes easier. That being said, it is still important to leverage effective consent collection tactics on an ongoing basis. This can be done through automated follow-up messages that only get triggered after a contact clicks on an email or you can employ email template consent opt-in headers that only get displayed when an implied email contact opens specific messages.
We know that the Canadian Anti-Spam Law is a necessary evil and risk to businesses that make marketing and sales activities more complicated to manage than necessary. The main focus and priority of work should be spent on achieving business objectives.
If your business has challenges in managing CASL compliance, then we can help. We have partnered with many exceptional brands across Canada to provide strategy, best practices, and a comprehensive CASL management solution for marketing as well as individuals that send commercial electronic messages.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you mitigate CASL risk while driving marketing results and sales leads.