When it comes to reaching Canadian residents, compliance with the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) is essential.
Since its implementation in 2014, CASL has regulated email marketing practices, and businesses have to adhere to these guidelines to avoid penalties.
These are the requirements of the CASL and how businesses can ensure compliance when carrying out email marketing activities.
The CASL and its role in email marketing
To comply with CASL, all emails sent to Canadian recipients must include the following elements:
- Sender information: Emails have to include your name, the person on whose behalf you are sending (if acting as an affiliate), your physical mailing address and contact information, including an email address, telephone number and URL.
- Unsubscribe link: An easily accessible opt-out option is a must. An unsubscribe link must be provided in every email, which should be simple to use and shouldn’t require logging in to unsubscribe.
Obtaining consent is another fundamental aspect of CASL compliance. Consent can be either “implied or express”. Implied consent applies when there is an existing business relationship with the recipient, such as when a purchase has been made, or if the recipient has enquired about a product or service in the last two years. Express consent, on the other hand, requires a clear agreement to receive messages, with a description of the messages being sent.
There are some exceptions to the rules. For example, pre-checked boxes aren’t legal and can’t be used to obtain express consent when someone signs up or during purchase flows. Consent has to be given freely and should be able to be withdrawn whenever the recipient chooses. CEMs sent within or between organisations with an existing relationship (B2B) are also exempt, as are those sent due to a legal obligation or to enforce rights.
Email marketing teams and CMOs need to assess the impact of these regulations on their campaigns and how they’ll obtain consent from subscribers and prospects in order to communicate with them.
Non-compliance with CASL can lead to severe penalties. The consequences include fines of up to $1 million, with corporations facing fines of up to $10 million per violation. Corporate directors can also be held liable for the wrongful acts of a corporation or organisation, and the corporation can be held liable for the wrongful acts of its employees.
Since 2017, individuals can also sue individuals or organisations for damages caused by unsolicited and unwanted commercial electronic messages (known as CEMs). This is provided they can prove actual harm or loss. However, if the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has already taken action against the organisation, an individual can’t file a lawsuit.
Complying with CASL is crucial for email marketers targeting Canadian residents. By understanding and adhering to CASL’s requirements, companies can protect their reputation, build trust with their subscribers and avoid hefty penalties. Businesses should ensure they have proper consent, including required information in emails, and provide an easy unsubscribe option to maintain compliance.