According to a recent Deloitte poll, only 22% of organizations have a customer relationship management (CRM) system equipped to handle CASL. – Deloitte report: “Managing the Message – Canada’s new anti-spam law sets a high bar”
As you may be aware, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law came into effect on July 1, 2014. Commonly referred to by its abbreviated name, “CASL”, pronounced “castle”, this legislation was designed to protect Canadians against unwanted “commercial electronic messages (CEMs)” (email spam), and threatens massive fines to companies that are reported and fail to comply.
The Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Competition Bureau all play a role in enforcing CASL.
To date, a number of companies have been fined for violating the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, including Compu.finder ($1.1 million), Rogers ($200K), Porter Airlines ($150K), Kellogg Canada Inc. ($60K) and PlentyOfFish ($48K).
Based on what has been reported about the violations that led to these CASL fines, it appears that they could have been easily avoided. These companies had fairly obvious omissions in their emails in terms of unsubscribe links either not functioning, or not being present at all – either intentionally or due to an oversight.
Aside from obvious omissions like these, it’s not easy for businesses to become and remain compliant with the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, without a CRM system to control the rolling dates and tracking of opt-in requests and resulting opt-ins and opt-outs. The law outlines very specific criteria for the consent that your company requires from your prospects, and different criteria again for your existing customers. CASL compliance requires careful management of this criteria as it applies to prospect and customer email lists used to send newsletters, promotions and other email marketing campaigns.
Even one-to-one emails, such as those sent by sales reps to follow up directly with a prospect interested in your products or services, must meet strict CASL regulations, making it against the law to follow up with them if specific requirements of timing and consent are not met.
Ten5 CRM’s solution to CASL compliance
With the threat of fines that could be catastrophic to most businesses, many companies have either stopped sending email campaigns altogether, or are ignoring the rules and are taking their chances. Email communication is not going away any time soon, so obviously neither of these is a viable option long-term. Our team at Ten5 CRM has come up with a solution that leverages the inherent strengths of a CRM system, integrated with an email campaign application, in order to manage the required steps, timing and proof required to maintain CASL compliance throughout your organization.
When a prospective customer contacts your business through your website, by phone or email, visits your booth at a trade show, or gives you their business card at a networking event, these interactions create the start of a business relationship that gives your company “implied consent” to send them CEMs.
Unfortunately, implied consent only applies for six months from the time your business relationship begins, so you must get the prospect’s “express consent” within that time to continue to communicate with them by email of any form beyond six months. If express consent is not acquired by the end of the six month period, but the prospect purchases a product or service from your company and becomes a customer, you now have two years to get their express consent. After two years, if they have not purchased from you again, you can no longer send them CEMs without their express consent.
In order to stay compliant with the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, the goal is to get express consent from your prospects and customers from the beginning, or as soon as possible, to ensure your company does not risk a fine if the recipient of your emails complains to the CRTC that you’ve sent them email(s) after the respective six-month or two-year period of implied consent has expired.
Express consent is permanent, meaning it gives your company permission to email your prospects and customers forever, unless they opt-out. Express consent must be in writing or via online opt-in that shows the prospect or customer’s email address and the date and time they opted in are valid. It is not adequate to simply mark them in your CRM system as opted-in because they’ve never complained and it seems fine to continue to email them. One complaint could shut down your business.
Canadian Anti-Spam Law summary
The information above is our best interpretation of the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, based on what has been published on the CRTC website, phone conversations with CRTC representatives, Deloitte’s CASL report titled, “Managing the message – Canada’s new anti-spam law sets a high bar”, and numerous articles we’ve researched to gain clarity on the requirements of this law.
We’ll consult with you and set your CRM system to suit the way you do business, and allows your company to market to your prospects and customers safely, within the rules of the new Canadian Anti-Spam Law.
Contact us to learn more about CASL compliance.