Why Email Marketing is Different in Canada

Email Marketing Done Differently

North of the 49th parallel email marketing must be done differently. If you use electronic and digital ways to promote or market your organization, products or services, Canada’s anti-spam law affects your business and how you conduct it. Several amendments into its inception and there is a clear result, rule breakers will be penalized and spammy emails have decreased.

We are now, at the time of this writing, a full three months into the post grace period for companies to become Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL as we will use from now on) compliant. In 2014, CASL was passed as legislation to protect Canadians from malicious spam online, and a year later it was amended to include provisions protecting Canadians from destructive malware and vicious computer viruses. In June of this year the sections dealing with the private right of action which was meant to come into force in July was suspended until further notice.

Between 2014 and July of 2017 companies were given a grace period to get the required consent to continue contacting their contacts and clients. The restrictions with regards to what you can or can’t do as a company are a bit larger since the law was adopted in 2014 and although the fines are being doled out, for the most part companies engaging in email marketing initiatives with Canadians have adapted their strategies to comply with the law.

A Cloudmark Global Security Threat study, found significant declines in spam with 29% less spammy emails in Canadians’ in-boxes, and as well a 37% reduction in spammy emails originating from Canada since CASL was put into place. This is a positive outcome of the law. So far significant fines some in the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars have been imposed against companies such as Porter Airlines, telecommunications giant Rogers, lifestyle brad Kellogg’s and the well-known dating website PlentyofFish.

Also known by its official name of C-28, the foundation of CASL is that it is a digital restriction against sending any “commercial electronic message” without the prior express or implied consent of the recipient. A commercial electronic message (CEM) is largely understood to be any kind of electronic message that encourages involvement in a profitable activity. This applies to just about every single one of your contacts and client communications with regards to your Canadian email addresses.

Doing Different Email Marketing in Canada

Doing email marketing without choosing the right platform is a lot like parking your car where there’s a gigantic fluorescent red No Parking sign and being totally oblivious to the consequences of parking there. Email marketing in Canada post July of 2017 and being CASL ignorant is the equivalent of still parking there in that spot and then complaining about the ticket you got to the cop who wrote it.

You saw the sign, you knew the restrictions of the spot. But you said to yourself “I’m only running in for a few minutes, I’ll be fine.” Which translates to its just one harmless email, I forgot. Only to come back to find a long piece of paper between your wiper, and windshield and a hefty fine…. You make yourself heard with indignation, and try to make the police officer (in this case the government) believe that “you had no idea you weren’t allowed to park there”. The officer responds “It’s your responsibility to make sure you understand what traffic symbols mean. Ignorance isn’t an excuse for breaking the law”. If you are a business owner, and you use email marketing to communicate with your clients you could wind up being that person contesting the infraction.

The problem in this scenario is that the infraction will cost you a lot more than a simple parking ticket. As a Canadian business owner, it’s your responsibility to know if you are operating within the parameters of the law, the same can be said of the international corporation who sends regular communications to Canadian clients. If you are using an American based email marketing platform, you probably think you’re safe, but you could also be at risk of not being compliant with the law.

The most common permission that is granted is for the two-year period after a customer purchases a product or service from your business. Your business must then keep track of the categories of (implied or express) consent into which your recipients fall into. This is to ensure they are removed from your email distribution lists should one of the conditions of eligibility expire or become unavailable for one reason or another. Canadian and American anti-spam laws have different governing rules. The best solution to overcome those rules is to use a Canadian based company which will ensure that you are always sending emails within the Canadian anti-spam legislation (CASL) guidelines.
 Key differences between the Canadian and U.S. Spam laws

 The main difference between these two sets of rules are that the American Anti-Spam law has adopted an opt-out model, while Canada has adopted an opt-in model. Under an opt-out model, businesses can continue to send promotional emails to recipients unless the recipient states otherwise, or essentially “opts out” of receiving emails and communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the footer of the email.
 Under an opt-in model, which is what we currently have in Canada, the recipient must affirmatively give the business permission to send them communications regarding promotions, newsletters etc. The opt-in model makes it a little more challenging to build a mailing list, but it’s not impossible task to accomplish. With the right tools, and the right information you will still be able to build a nice quality mailing list and it will be compliant and consensual.
 Before beginning to build your mailing list, the first thing one needs to understand first are the differences between the two types of consent:
 Express consent
 Express consent is when someone gives you their consent to send them promotional emails verbally, or in writing. If they agree verbally it’s always recommended to follow-up with an email confirming the consent. That way you have proof. If they register online it is recommended to use the double opt-in. You’re probably thinking “Double opt-in? That sounds complicated.” Don’t panic, we’ll explain.

The double opt-in means that once they register, they will receive a confirmation email asking them to confirm their consent. This narrows down your key audience and prevents people from using another person’s email address. The beauty of the express consent is that it doesn’t expire, unless the recipient withdraws his or her consent.
 Implied Consent
 Implied consent can come in many different shapes and sizes. The key thing to remember here is that implied consents have an expiration date. They could span from:

· Existing business relationships or personal relationships

· The recipient has made a purchase or entered into a contract with you (24 months after the purchase or end of contract)

· They’ve inquired about your product or asked for a quote (6 months only)

· You received or found their business card at a networking event;

· Or their email address is publicly posted within your network or industry (their website for example). If people conspicuously publish their address or give it to you, you are allowed to contact them if your message is pertinent for the business, and relates to the recipient’s functions or activities within that particular business.

Your ultimate goal is to have all implied consents move over to the express consent column as quickly as possible. A good Canadian email marketing platform will allow you to do just that. It will also allow you to document each and every consent, and offer the very important double opt-in.

How to grow your mailing list within the law
 Now that you’ve received an overview of the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, here are some tips to help you grow your mailing list while following the rules.

Add sign-up forms everywhere

· On your website and try to not make it look too conspicuous

· You can even use social media. Facebook now allows you to add a sign-up button to your business page

· To the invoices you send to clients

· Your email signature

Offer exclusive content and promotions

· Make it clear that only your subscribers have access to top secret information and promotions.

Ask for their consent

· You talk to your clients on a daily basis, why not just personally ask for their consent? (Again, don’t forget to send an email confirmation)

Run in-store and social media contests

· In your store or on your social media platforms, run a contest that they only have access to if they subscribe to your mailing list.


· When you attend events, conventions and trade shows, try to collect as many email consents as possible.

· You can also ask people from your industry, who are not a direct competitor to promote you, and your mailing list on their next newsletter. People are always looking for content, use it to your advantage.

Don’t under any circumstance buy a mailing list!

Premade lists are worse for your business’ health than TV dinners are for your health. Cyberimpact gets that they might bring a (false) sense of security, they are not at always about quality. They are about quantity and a quick fix. Furthermore, you have absolutely no way of knowing if they are in compliance with the law. You don’t know if the people on the list have given their consent, which means that you can’t document anything.

More importantly if you use a premade list you are also liable by law and are subject to any penalties you incur. Don’t waste your time, energy, and money on premade lists. Unless you want to face legal troubles. Instead follow the steps we mentioned above, and you will successfully build your very own quality mailing list.

Any readers seeking to get a global overview of what the global spamming portrait is ight now rcan find that information on The ROKSO list (the Register of Known Spamming Organizations which is maintained by an organization known as Spamhaus) can do so here. The list identifies the top 100 global spamming organizations, who are responsible for 80% of all global spam emails.

Cyberimpact is the easiest to use email marketing platform designed for Canadian small businesses. It was built with CASL in mind to ensure compliance at all times. Let it allow you to grow your mailing list with a clear conscience, for FREE! Try it today!