One Week CASL Countdown – Is Your Marketing Strategy About to Violate Federal Law?

Must-Read Disclaimer

Please be advised that this is no way legal advice. This is simply our interpretation of the new Canadian Anti-Spam Law and it’s application for inbound marketing.

This information has been designed to help you understand how CASL will impact your marketing efforts and what you can do to ensure you are in compliance with these new privacy laws.

We are not lawyers and nothing presented here is, or should be construed as, legal advice.

This information was prepared in collaboration with Christene Hirschfeld – Queens Council, Intellectual Privacy Lawer, BOYNECLARKE. Please contact Christene if you wish to seek legal advice about how CASL will impact your sales and marketing activities.

Is Your Marketing Strategy About to Violate Federal Law?

In less than seven days from the publishing of this post, Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) comes into effect.

Have you updated your landings pages, email templates and marketing strategies to comply with this new legislation?

If you haven’t you may soon be violating Canadian privacy law.

Here is what you need to do in the next few days in order to comply with CASL and avoid massive financial risk, including fines of up to $10 million.

 1. Update landing pages to require explicit consent

CASL has a direct impact on the way inbound marketers can legally collect email addresses. Under this new legislation every landing page and contact form must include a number of requirements in order to comply. Fortunately most of the new requirements can be updated relatively easily by editing your landing page templates and updating your live pages.

The biggest change for inbound marketers is the way contacts must now opt in to receiving your commercial electronic messages. In order for your landing pages and contact forms to be CASL compliant you now need to include a checkbox (it cannot be pre-check) and clear messaging that states what types of communication contacts are opting into.

“By checking this box, I agree to receive occasional special offers from Kula Partners. I am aware that I can unsubscribe at any time.”

As a marketer you should be thinking about the messaging you will use to encourage page visitors to check the box and grant you their permission to send them commercial electronic messages.

As sales focused inbound marketers we are taking the approach that all contacts must now check the opt in box and provide explicit consent to be marketed to. Our opinion is that if a contact is unwilling to check the box and opt in to our educational marketing emails it is unlikely that they are a good sales prospect. We don’t want a bunch of tire kickers in our email database.

If you disagree with our approach you can certainly make your opt in process optional and let people view your context without agreeing to be marketed to, but that seems rather counterintuitive to the goals of inbound marketing.

In the next few days you should be updating all of your landing page templates and contact forms to include:

  • The business, organization or person who is requesting consent
  • An easy way for contacts to unsubscribe
  • A valid mailing address and either a phone number, email address or web address
  • Explicit consent check boxes and clear opt in language

2. Don’t worry about your customers, focus on top of funnel leads

CASL comes into effect in a two phases. Fortunately you still have until July 1, 2017 to gain explicit consent from anyone you have an existing business relationship with, but for all of your other contacts you’ll need to act quickly.

Given the fact that everyone is sending out last minute email blasts leading up to the July 1, 2014 deadline most Canadian’s email inboxes are being bombarded with CASL compliance requests. You should avoid sending any CASL related email communication to your contacts that are protected by the three year transition period until the situation settles. Wait to contact your customers at a more opportune time.

Instead of joining in the last minute opt-in rush we suggest that you wait and strategically try to gain your customer’s explicit consent by offering a high value piece of content sometime before July 1, 2017. Use the three year transition period to your advantage.

3. Send out your best content offer to leads that are about to expire

For any contact that you do not have an existing business relationship with you need to get them to explicitly opt-in to continue receiving your electronic messages before July 1, 2014 – which is less than 8 days from the publishing of this post.

Instead of sending a blatant email explaining CASL and asking everyone on your contact lists to opt-in to continue receiving your sales and marketing emails we suggest the following strategy:

Send a short but valuable email that addresses a common pain point members of your email list are likely experiencing. Within the email include just one link pointing to a CASL compliant landing page that offers up your highest performing asset – this could be a whitepaper, a cost calculator, a webinar recording or any piece of content for that matter. Briefly explain how the content download will help the recipient address their pain point.

On the landing page make the conversion process as simple as possible. Dont ask for anything other than the contact’s email address and for them to check the explicit opt-in box. The goal is to maximize the conversion rate so you can retain as many of your email contacts as possible.

This email should go out at least 3-4 days prior to CASL coming into effect.

4. Last resort is sending out an email explicitly asking for consent

After sending out a valuable offer in an email, as described above, you will undoubtedly have a number of contacts that have not opted-in to receiving your marketing emails. In a last ditch effort you can send an email briefly explaining the new CASL legislation and directly asking contacts if they would like to continue to hear from you.

In many ways these new requirements reflect email marketing best practices that industry thought leaders have advocated for years.

If you are actively engaging in whitehat email marketing, CASL will not have a huge impact on your strategy. For those organizations who are still purchasing email lists and soliciting products/services to contacts that have not opted in your strategy is going to come to an abrupt end on July 1, 2014.

Inbound Marketing in the Post CASL Era

The restrictions outlined in CASL have redefined how marketers can legally generate new business. More so than ever marketers need to find ways to attract website visitors, convert leads and close customers – pull rather than push.

Inbound marketing is now more important than ever. If you would like to learn how inbound marketing can be put to work for your organization download our Executive’s Guide to Inbound Marketing.

What is CASL?

If you do any form of email marketing with businesses located in Canada, or you have people on your mailing list who live in Canada, you are subject to these new laws even if your business is based outside of Canada.

There are three federal agencies responsible for enforcement of the CASL laws. The fines for violating the new laws are staggering – Individuals can be fined up to $1,000,000 and businesses could be set back $10,000,000.

To avoid massive financial risk you need to act quickly.

Want to learn more about CASL? In part 1 of this blog post we covered the Plain & Simple Must Know Facts About CASL

The information presented in this blog post was created in collaboration with Christene Hirschfeld, Queens Council, Intellectual Property Lawyer, BOYNECLARKE. Please contact Christene if you wish to seek legal advice about how CASL will impact your sales and marketing activities.

Christene is a partner at BOYNECLARKE and lives in Queensland, Nova Scotia.  Her practice focuses on business and intellectual property law.  She is often invited to speak on intellectual property as well as matters relating to business related issues including financing, privacy and other topics.

Christene’s name has been included in the publication The Best Lawyers in Canada since its first edition in 2006 and she has been given Distinguished Attorney Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.  In 2013, Christene was named the Best Lawyers’ 2014 Halifax Information Technology Law “Lawyer of the Year” and also was a recipient of a 2013 Lexpert Zenith Award “Celebrating Women Leaders in the Legal Profession”. She is a founding member of Women in Film and Television – Atlantic, a member of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s Speakers Bureau, an Associate of the Law & Technology Institute, an Affiliate of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, the Past Chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s National Intellectual Property subsection,  Past Chair of the Nova Scotia Chapter of Canadian Women in Communication, a past director of the Information Technology Industry Alliance of Nova Scotia and a former lecturer at Dalhousie University Law School.  Christene has been recognized by her peers and is regularly included in Best Lawyers in Canada and Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory.

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