“Sweepstakes Winner!” “Need Your Bank Information.” “Official Notice.” Those are just a few red flags that make most of us automatically think, “email spam.”
You probably wonder, “Does anyone actually get fooled by those things?” Apparently, they do — because one look in your spam folder will show that they’re still at it.
“Spam” has a broader definition, though, and many national governments agree, passing laws preventing any kind of unwanted solicitation via email — whether it’s from one of those Nigerian princes or just a local business. And to combat this, Canada passed the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) on July 1, 2014.
So if you operate in Canada or contact Canadian customers or prospects via email, it’s important to know the new rules.
Let’s take a look at them, and how the principles apply to you no matter where your prospects are.
The law covers any kind of commercial communication
It’s very broad — so even if you’re following e-mail marketing best practices and not coming on strong with a sales pitch, any kind of promotional messaging is subject to CSAL.
Exemptions apply only when a customer or prospect has directly contacted you — for instance, for a quote— or when you have the “express or implied” consent to contact them.
Be clear in your communication.
Under CSAL, you need to state explicitly who you are and what organization you’re with.
You also need to make sure that recipients can easily unsubscribe from your list. While you’re working on clarity in those areas, it’s a good time to remember that the most successful emails are up front and direct in all regards — tell the reader exactly why you’re contacting them and why they should be interested in what you’re saying.
Maintain your email lists.
Essentially, anyone you contact in Canada needs to “opt in” to receive messaging from you.
Has it been a while since you’ve done a thorough cleaning of your email list? Now you’ve got the perfect excuse.
Take a look at who you’re reaching out to, and make sure they’re the right people— the ones who do want to hear from you.
Focus on good content.
Whether or not CSAL applies to you, you can use it as a kind of test of your willpower to see how “unsalesy” you can be.
Are you able to put together a strictly informational newsletter or message, without sneaking in a mention of yourself, your business, or your products?
Keeping in touch with your prospects and clients at all the stages of their buying cycle is a great way to build a longstanding partnership.
A well-maintained email list can be one of your most valuable sales and marketing assets. CSAL (and other laws like the U.S.’s CAN-SPAM) are around to make sure that they’re not abused. If you’re doing it right, they’re not rules to fear or work around — they’ll just remind you how to craft your messaging to benefit both you and your readers.
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