Are Your Emails Legally Compliant?

I’m still amazed of the number of individuals, business owners, and not-for-profits I’ve recently met who are still not familiar with the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). Case in point, I was recently asked to speak about CASL and, considering it’s been 7 months since the legislation went into effect, I was amazed to have a full room.

So, I thought it would be appropriate to review CASL and add some best practices you should consider for your next email marketing campaign to make sure your emails are legally compliant.

DISCLAIMER: If you think your situation needs some deeper advice around CASL, please consult a lawyer.

You have probably heard that on July 1, 2014 the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) went into effect, requiring email marketing campaigns to comply with the new legislation. It almost seems as though email marketing has now reverted back in people’s mind to that dreadful four letter word that nobody wants to be associated with: “Spam”.

Many marketers are now scrambling to revise their tactics and strategies so as not to be hit by hefty fines, which can be upwards of ten million dollars, for sending unsolicited messages, and some have now discontinued the very idea of email communication in favour of other communication media. But is it really all doom and gloom for email marketing? The simple answer is, NO.

Email still remains the most reliable and cost-effective form of communication with clients and continues to be an effective tool for building relationships as, a leading authority on email marketing metrics, found that on a daily basis, consumers interact with about 11 brands though email, and according to a study by digital marketing advisor, Convince and Convert, 44% of consumers made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email they received.

Interesting numbers yes, but do they actually mean something? Well of course they do, but given the penalties for non-compliance, these results are much more meaningful to companies when the campaigns that generated them are executed properly within the guidelines set out by the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation. Now quickly for those of you who aren’t aware of these legislative changes and have no idea what CASL is all about, here is brief summary of the new law, as provided by Deloitte.

“CASL is a new anti-spam law that will apply to all electronic messages (i.e. email, texts) organizations send in connection with a “commercial activity”. Its key features require Canadian and global organizations that send commercial electronic messages within, from or to Canada to receive consent from recipients before sending messages.

Below are three resourceful keys that will help you to love CASL:

Data, Data, Data
Data is what makes email marketing the rich customer juggernaut of communication that it is, and delivers raw and effective data that you want. Email is still the most effective one-to-one channel of communication, because of its high level of personalization and the email marketer’s ability to craft messages with unique content, tailored to specific customer wants and needs.

But the key challenge that marketers have to contend with is how to use the data appropriately to tap into consumers and engage them with your brand on an emotional level. Tapping into that database of customer loyalty through a more meaningful, direct line of frequent communication will have a significant impact on your email marketing efforts… and enable you to engage the audience you want.

Suit the Mobile
The wave of mobile users has sky-rocketed in recent years, and now everyone from 12-year-old Johnny to Grandmamma has some kind of mobile device with which to communicate. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case for all email users on mobile devices, with just under half of the 897 million mobile email-users worldwide opening emails on their mobile devices. It’s an interesting statistic, given the amount of mobile users there are, but numbers are numbers, so it’s important that you employ whatever means possible to garner their attention, focusing on the quality of your content and not the quantity.

People today are more impatient than ever when reading any kind of printed material, so it’s important to keeps messages structurally sound and concise. Readers don’t want to scuffle through email messages that don’t have any hook to them, and people use their devices for a wide variety of tasks, so you need to capture them with quick reads and engaging messages. It’s also just as important to know when to target your readers, by using data services to see where and when most messages will be opened and read, for optimal engagement.

Don’t Blitzkrieg
With new legislation come new rules and laws you must abide by to stay within line, so companies are now required to get explicit consent from potential recipients within the next two to three years. This has now falsely instilled a sense of concern amongst recipients about potential bombardment with offers, discounts and incentives if they oblige. Please don’t do that; it offends people and opens your company up to lost relationships with existing customers, and that’s the last thing you want.

It’s all about finding a strategic, rigorous plan that works on a legal level, and will hopefully force you to take another look at how you approach marketing, so you can gain that crucial edge and have the sweet satisfaction of being the customer’s first pick.

And identify the people who really want to hear from you!

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