How to Comply with CASL and Grow Your Audience

Have you (ironically) been bombarded with emails over the past few weeks from companies asking if you still want to receive email from them? You're definitely not alone.

It's all thanks to a new law in Canada called CASL (Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation), which takes effect today. It's a far-reaching set of rules for commercial electronic communications like email, social media conversations and text messages.

CASL has caused a bit of an uproar, and you're probably wondering what the big deal is, right?

I've got news for you - but it's not what you think

Truth be told, this post isn't so much about the law as it is about common sense.

But first, I'm not a lawyer - so if you have specific questions about your business's compliance or lack thereof, you should ask one. 

On that note, let's get our legal geese in a row so we can talk about what it means for your business. 

CASL applies to audience members living in Canada and has three big requirements:

  1. You need to have either Implied Consent or Express Consent of each audience member before you send them commercial electronic messages.
    • Express Consent means they gave you permission to send them commercial electronic messages (they opted-in). Express Consent has no time limit - it ends when they opt-out.
    • Implied Consent means they have an existing relationship with you (they bought something, donated, did volunteer work, or joined your club or association, as examples). Implied Consent is generally valid for 2 years, or until the relationship ends.
  2. You need to provide identification and contact information on every message.
    • Your company name
    • Your company's mailing address (except home-based businesses)
    • Your contact information such as website, email address and phone number
  3. You need to have a simple unsubscribe process (such as a button or link).

How to comply with CASL

The best way to comply is to run your content marketing, email marketing and Internet marketing programs on the foundation of permission. Permission is not just a well-established best practice in the content marketing world, it's also common sense.

This means:

  • Don't buy email lists.
  • Don't add people's email addresses to your list after meeting them at a conference, party or event.
  • Don't tag friends of friends, or complete strangers on your commercial Facebook posts.

You get the idea.

More clarity is sure to come over time, especially in the grey areas revealed in this discussion that aren't adequately addressed by the CRTC's FAQ.

But wait, there's more you can (and should) be doing take a step beyond compliance, and closer to meeting your business goals.

Even if you're compliant, you're not done yet

If you're already using Internet marketing best practices, congratulations - you're already compliant!

At Localthority, so am I.

  • We already have Express Consent from everyone on our mailing list. In fact, we have it twice because we use a double opt-in process where subscribers first opt-in on our website, then confirm their opt-in by clicking a link in an email they receive shortly thereafter.
  • We provide identification and contact information on every email.
  • Every email we send sports a handy one-click unsubscribe link in the footer.
  • Today, we're adding clear and simple descriptions of the types of information we'll share to the about section of our social media channels.

For many online marketers, nothing changes.

For other online marketers, one of three things will happen: Determined spammers will change nothing, and face the possibility of punishing fines. Undetermined spammers will stop and their (Canadian) recipients will rejoice. Lastly, true marketers will comply by adopting Internet marketing best practices - and start competing with you for your audience!

If you want to continue building and engaging your audience in a way that makes you stand out, you should constantly work to deepen the positive relationship you've built with them by:

  • Consistently producing and sharing valuable content
  • Creating new ways of packaging and sharing helpful information your audience needs to meet their goals
  • Curating interesting content created by others that's relevant to your business
  • Communicating with your audience on a regular basis - often enough to keep them engaged but not so often that you don't leave them hungry for more

The water's always rising as others jump into the content marketing pool vying for your audience's attention. To stay on top, you have to do whatever it takes to keep learning, improving and pushing the limits of content creation and audience engagement.

Now it's your turn

In the comments, share what you've done to prepare for CASL, or ask any questions you still have and we'll be happy to answer them.

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