Our emails may have an international readership, so we have to stay abreast of current laws around the world about sending commercial electronic messages.
You may have already gotten wind of the new Canada Anti-Spam Law (CASL) that went into effect July 1 and be panicking over what it means for you and how to comply. STOP. Take a deep breath. It’s not that bad and unless you’re a spammer anyway (in which case you don’t care and aren’t stressing) you’re probably already in compliance. If not, there’s a bit of a grace period.
The most basic thing to remember is that you need to have and maintain a verifiable record of someone’s consent, their permission, to start or continue emailing them. (Being in your CRM or address book does not count, either ethically or legally.) Otherwise, just don’t. You’ll have to find another way to ask and to build that list. Which you should be doing anyway, but that’s a post for another day.
Another aspect of permission that’s worth a quick mention is that it expires pretty quickly. CASL says 24 months. My favorite email marketing provider, MailChimp, says 12 months. But in the real world, in actual practice, 6 months is about the maximum shelf life. Remember, regardless of laws and policies, spam is also in the eye of the beholder. If the recipient reports it as spam, then it effectively is.
Back to those laws and policies…
The terms of service of most email marketing providers are stricter than the anti-spam laws themselves. These companies must quickly and reliably deliver millions and billions of emails on behalf of their customers. If they allow spammy practices, email through them can get blacklisted, which impacts customers over all, who will then leave. The only way they can deliver and maintain a good reputation is to require ethical practices by their own customers.
Here’s information from MailChimp about its own policies and explaining the CASL:
Guidelines for List Compliance: http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/can-i-use-my-list-in-mailchimp
Examples of Compliant and Non-compliant Lists: http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/is-my-list-okay-to-use-in-mailchimp
About the Canada Anti-Spam Law (CASL): http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/about-the-canada-anti-spam-law-casl/ (Goes into Implied vs Express Consent and highlights how MailChimp’s policies are stricter.)
Stay Compliant with CASL: http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/stay-compliant-with-casl/ (Provides concrete steps to take.)
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