The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation - Are You Prepared?

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation - Are You Prepared?

There has been talk for years about the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and when and if it will come to fruition. Well, it looks like it finally has.

The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will take effect on July 1, 2014. This legislation applies to all email sent from or to Canada. Businesses have a three year grace period (July 1, 2017) to verify and confirm consent to send email to Canadian recipients but can still only communicate with recipients with whom they have an existing business relationship. Any opt-in information you have before CASL comes into force will be recognized as compliant with CASL. You can review the full details of the legislation here.

Given the looming deadline, it is essential for senders to assess their readiness and develop a compliance strategy for this new legislation. Here are some provisions that should be thoroughly investigated:

  • Permission – CASL has an explicit permission provision. This means that implied consent is NOT acceptable for gathering permission. There are multiple exceptions to the rule, including existing business relationships. Purchases qualify for this exception and the 24-month clock resets with every purchase.

  • Implied consent – There are multiple ways where a sender can obtain consent outside the required express consent. Personal or family relationships, inquiries, and several others.

  • The law applies to email that is accessed on computers in Canada.

  • Very different from CAN-SPAM, this is not an opt-out, but an opt-in law. Allowing people the opportunity to opt-out does NOT satisfy the requirements. A pre-checked box is an implied consent method that WILL NOT be allowed. Auto opting-in abandoned shopping carts and e-receipts for promotional mail will also be outlawed.

  • Private right of action – One of the most talked about pieces of this legislation which allows individuals to bring suit, will not take effect until July 1, 2017.

  • 3 year transition period – Senders have a 3 year grace period to gain consent of individuals. Implied consent is sufficient during this period, but express consent must be gained to go forward after that period.

  • You should update your privacy policy, make sure you are recording consent for proof, and always have a working unsubscribe mechanism.

Ask your ESP to help you identify all Canadian subscribers so you can come up with a plan to re-permission them if needed.

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Start the New Year CAN-SPAM Compliant

Everyone understands the importance of internet marketing, specifically the effectiveness of a targeted e-mail strategy. However, e-mail marketing compliance is often the last things a small business owner considers when creating his or her marketing plan. The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act was passed in 2003 and has major implications for e-mail marketers and consequences for violators. In fact, violators can be charged up to $16,000 for each separate e-mail that violates the CAN-SPAM Act. Consider the main features of this legislation:

What E-Mails Must Comply with CAN-SPAM?
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), any e-mail whose "primary purpose" is commercial must comply with the act. Any e-mail that advertises your business or promotes your products and services is subject to CAN-SPAM guidelines.
E-mails considered "transactional" or “relationship content" do not have to comply with all the CAN-SPAM requirements. For example, if you send payment receipts, shipping information or simply respond to customer inquiries, you do not have to abide by all the guidelines. Some do still apply though. Marketers are prohibited from using inaccurate information in the "to" and "from" fields. The e-mail address and domain must definitively indicate who the message is coming from.

What Are the Rules?
If your e-mails are subject to the CAN-SPAM Act, consider the following guidelines.
• Headers, domains and subject lines must be clear and not deceptive.
• You must state that the message is an advertisement.
• Your message must include your postal address in the body of the e-mail.
• You must provide an option to unsubscribe from the e-mail list, and follow-up on those requests within 10 business days. Whatever unsubscribe tool you use should be able to continue processing the requests for 30 days after the original e-mail was sent.

Lastly, keep in mind that the FTC doesn't differentiate between you and a third party that may be sending your e-mails on your behalf. Ask your provider how they handle the "opt-out" feature and any other compliance issues.

Contact us to develop an e-mail marketing strategy that is in compliance with the law.

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Do Not Track Legislation Will Thwart Certain Marketing Automation Efforts

Do Not Track LegislationIf you're using markting automation that combines web analytics with email marketing get ready to change your game plan.  Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), head of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced a new privacy bill Monday that instructs the Federal Trade Commission to craft rules establishing standards for a universal do-not-track mechanism.  If passed, this new legislation could cause logistical headaches for marketers, especially B2B ones, who use web analytics to track and "score" leads (subscriber activity).  If you're thinking about PAYING EXTRA for these types of marketing automation systems, my advice is to hold off a bit to see where this proposed legislation ends up. 

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More SPAM Legislation Might Be Around the Corner

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), 15 to 25 new “Do Not Mail” bills will be introduced on the state level that will attempt to replicate the Federal Do Not Call legislation.  Although the federal government does have a legitimate business interest (US Postal Service) in not proposing federal legislation, Congress might be forced into taking action if a patchwork of state laws pass.

What does this mean for email marketers? 

Legislation in one marketing medium usually finds its way to other ones as technology makes compliance easier and enforcement is less of an issue.  It is doubtful that 2008 will see any significant legislation specifically related to email marketing. The “Do Not Mail” bills, however, could be a pre-curser to amending CAN SPAM from opt-out to opt-in. This means that all recipients will need to officially opt-in to receiving your email. Right now, the law requires marketers to have an opt-out option, and while opt-in is preferred, it’s not required. 

Stay ahead of this potential hiccup by strengthening your opt-in methods now. Check out eLoop’s features such as landing pages, surveys, and others to see how you can increase your opt-in savvy.

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Top Issues for Email Marketers in 2008

1.  The Death of the ISP White List
For those lucky email marketers who previously relied on ISP white lists for superior deliverability will get a shocking wake up call this year.  As ISPs rely more on reputation-based systems for discerning good senders from bad ones white lists are rapidly becoming obsolete as the mistake of false positives are less of an issue.  This new technology and methodology of reputation-based systems levels the deliverability playing field for all email marketers eliminating the backdoor approach to deliverability.  This also means that email marketers must continue to rely on best practices and monitor their reputation as a slip up can cost them dearly.

2.  Email Rendering on Mobile Devices
As the mobile phone continues to become the main communications device, email rendering on mobile devices will become a serious issue in 2008.  Since many mobile devices only display text emails, email marketers will have a challenging time separating their mobile users from their traditional computer receivers.  This segmentation will be necessary to ensure proper rendering of their messages to non-HTML friendly email clients.  It will also be difficult for email marketers to determine the true open rate of their campaigns because of this growing user base.

3.  Authentication Technology Will Become Mandatory
DomainKeys, OpenSPF and Sender ID - if you don't know what these things are find out fast! Mail server authentication both from a marketing and corporate admin standpoint will become a necessary defense in the spam war.  It is estimated that only 30% of mail servers use these authentication technologies however this number will grow quickly as email marketers rush to take advantages of technology that will help distinguish their email from spam. In addition, it wouldn't surprise me if the FTC made this a mandatory practice as part of compliance with the CAN SPAM Act.

4.  More Legislation Might Be Around The Corner
According to the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) there will be 15 to 25 new Do Not Mail bills introduced on the state level that will attempt to replicate the Federal Do Not Call legislation.  Although the federal government does have a legitimate business interest (US Postal Service) in not proposing federal legislation, Congress might be forced into taking action if a patchwork of state laws pass.  What does this mean for email marketers?  Legislation in one marketing medium usually finds its way to other ones as technology makes compliance and enforcement is less of an issue.  Although I don't think 2008 will bring any significant legislation to email marketing, the Do Not Mail bills could be a pre-curser to amending CAN SPAM from opt-out to opt-in.

5.  Social Networking Sites Will Become The New Inbox Providers
When people think of social networking sites like MySpace, FaceBook, Linked-In, etc. they usually don't think of email however this will soon change.  I find it ironic when social networking pundits declare that the social networking will bring the death of email when the medium is totally reliant on email for viral marketing and alerts.  Based on the wide adoption of social networking sites over the past few years, coupled with the fact that the average user is increasing the amount of time spent on these sites, it is only natural for social networking sites to include inter-network email as part of their service offerings.  Get ready for MySpace, FaceBook and Linked-In to compete with Google, Yahoo and MSN for the inbox.

Overall 2008 should be a great year for email marketing.  More businesses large and small will rely more on the medium as it claims a larger footprint in their Internet marketing mix.  Happy New Year!

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