Breathe deeply and relax folks. It’s all going to work out … if you stay calm and get informed on what you need to do.
Whether you have done no research, or have been busily digging through Google for every and any article that will help you wrap your head around this debacle, we hope to help calm your nerves and clarify any misconceptions that you may have.
For our blissfully unaware readers, let’s start by explaining that CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) comes into effect July 1 2014. The goal of this legislation is to improve the efficiency and validity of CEMs (commercial electronic messages). It governs over all emails, SMS/text, and any other electronic message containing commercial content. Exceptions include fax, two way voice communications and voice messaging.
In addition, on January 15 2015, CASL’s Computer Program Provisions will take effect and regulate the distribution and downloading of computer programs. This covers everything from loyalty program apps to browser toolbars.
Many companies and individuals believe that CASL does not apply to them due to its deceiving name. In the beginning, this legislation was intended to identify and prosecute those who abused means of electronic communications. Upon further research, the extensive damage done by spamming became apparent.
Like many of you, we have experienced these repercussions being both a recipient of and sender of CEMs. Hesitant to open emails despite tempting subject lines and dealing with disappointing email open rates.
What began as hunt for spammers, has now evolved into a best practice for electronic communications. By enforcing these changes we have an opportunity to save a means of communication that has been abused and broken.
Understanding CASL can be broken down into 3 simple tasks. These tasks must be accomplished at time of consent, and deployment. Meaning when one subscribes to a CEM and when one receives a CEM.
Simply put, you must have the consent of the recipient. It is your job as the sender to track this consent. When did they consent, what day, what time? Was it online, written or verbal? For those who tracked this information correctly, you are among the few. For those who did not, you need to reconfirm past consent and track it going forward. Where this becomes confusing is identifying what is considered consent. CASL defines two types of consent: Explicit and Implied.
If you take anything away from this post let it be to GET EXPLICIT CONSENT. Explicit consent means that the recipient has given you direct permission to email them. They must have made an affirmative action, meaning no sneaky pre-checked boxes.
Yes, this does mean that your subscriber list is going to take a hit, but in the end you will be left with engaged and active recipients in your brand community. The alternative option, Implied Consent, is time-sensitive and requires routine purging of your contacts. You must track when you last did business with each recipient and track how long you can continue to communicate with them before having to remove them from your list. In short, Implied Consent requires continuous maintenance.
The second task it to clearly identify yourself and anyone else on whose behalf the message is sent. As stated before, this must occur at time of subscription and deployment. On your subscription page you are required to give a description of the CEM content and identify all parties involved with the message. Misleading and false subject lines are prohibited by CASL, so be transparent with your readers. The contact information of all parties involved must also be stated on all CEMs. The following information must be provided:
The third and final task is to provide a way for recipients to unsubscribe from receiving future messages. In our first example of identification you may have noted that we stated “There’s no obligation, you can unsubscribe your consent at any time…”. It is required by CASL to include a statement at time of subscription that indicates one can revoke their consent at any time.
It is one thing to say it and another to make it happen. Within all CEMs there must be easily accessible and clearly labeled unsubscribe button. This link must process the unsubscribe request within 10 business days and cannot send a confirmation email.
We know what some of you may be thinking. Why would I want to make unsubscribing so easy? For one thing, you will have to pay a pretty penny if you don’t. Secondly, those who choose to unsubscribe were not the ones you were intending to reach in the first place. Like we said earlier, you will be left with a more engaged and active brand community.
Steps to Compliance
Now that you understand the basic principles of CASL, it is time to devise a plan and execute it. The following 5 steps will help you to identify your problem areas and determine what changes need to be made to become CASL compliant.
1. Identify – What forms of CEM do you use? How many subscriber lists do you have? How does one subscribe for these CEMs?
2. Organize – Determine who you have Explicit Consent from and who you need to reconfirm with. Brave enough to take on implied consent? This is when you would need to determine the time line for each implied recipient.
3. Change – Update your subscription page and CEM templates to include all required information and unsubscribe functions.
4.Track – Create a compliance campaign and track consent going forward.
5. Educate – Share this information with employees, colleagues, clients and partners.
It is okay to admit that you are upset about the impending demise of your subscription lists. Rather than getting upset, we recommend softening the blow by reaching out to your contacts. Since early May we have received a handful of CASL Consent Request emails. All of these followed one of two formats either exclusively or in combination.
1. Dedicated Campaign – A CEM sent out with the sole purpose to receive explicit consent.
• “We require your consent”
2. Embedded Requests – A CEM containing regular content with a request for consent appearing at the end.
• “Want to continue receiving updates about our contest, events and products? Click Here”
Some of you may be all too aware that July 1 is drawing near. Fortunately CASL has provided us a window of opportunity in the form of a transitional period. This means that from now until July 1 2017, you can get yourself organized without fear of being penalized. Use this time to identify what you need to change and make it happen.
July 1, 2014 – CASL Takes Effect
January 15, 2014 – CASL Computer Program Provisions Takes Effect
July , 2017 – CASL Private Rights of Action Takes Effect
At Blade we believe in building and supporting brand communities. A foundation that is built on trust and communication. It is one thing to have great brand, but without a trusted means of communication you have nothing. We hope that you now see CASL for what it is. An opportunity to build a stronger brand community.
If you have any questions or concerns about the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation feel free to contact us.
For an example of CASL compliant E-Newsletter sign up for our Blade Newsletters at www.bladecreativebranding.com.