Some major changes are coming our way for email and text message marketing in Canada. On July 1st, 2014, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will come into effect, and it’s one of the most aggressive anti-spam laws in the world.
In a nutshell, you can no longer email or text anyone in Canada until you have their express consent to do so. Otherwise, the fines can be quite expensive, ranging anywhere from up to $1 million for individuals and up to $10 million for companies.
So what can you do to make sure that you are not breaking any of the rules?
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, offers the following tips to help protect yourself and your restaurant or foodservice operation from CASL:
- Get express consent
Make sure that everyone on your mailing list has given you direct permission for you to get in touch with them via email or text. The two most common ways to get express consent is by using a mailing list sign-up form on your website or a confirmation link in an email.
If you are sending an initial email to someone via a referral, be sure to include the name of the person who made the referral on the email, and if you are sending on behalf on another organization, make sure you identify the organization.
Make sure you save all this information including tracking items like the date, time, IP address, form used, link clicked, etc. This way, you have some physical proof that the person did indeed give you express consent for you to email them. Never agree to anything verbally. Always have something on paper.
- Tell them they can unsubscribe at any time
Another main requirement of CASL is that you must include a statement that the person can withdraw their consent at any time. Be sure to write that somewhere in your sign-up form; otherwise, your sign-up form could be considered null and void.
- Make sure you offer an opt-out
Every message you send out must include an “Unsubscribe” option. If someone wishes to unsubscribe, you must do it within 10 days. You cannot reconfirm with someone who has requested to unsubscribe from your list, so you cannot send them an email asking if they are sure they wish to unsubscribe! Once anyone has asked to unsubscribe from your list, remove them immediately.
- Don’t be misleading
In all your email or text messages, do not send out anything that will mislead your customers. Make sure that any promotion or deal you are offering is valid, and always honour the deal. Always include an expiration date for all your promotions. Make sure that you state your intentions clearly.
- Include a physical address
All your emails or text messages must include the physical address and/or telephone number to your restaurant/foodservice operation, or your message will not meet the CASL regulations.
For more information on CASL, visit fightspam.gc.ca.