Much of the discussion around the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) relates to efforts to clean up/reconfirm existing lists. This post summarizes key email consent conditions and the three key steps going forward to expand your email lists.

CASL’s intent is to protect Canadians from the most damaging and deceptive forms of spam, which represents more than 75 percent of all email traffic.

To begin, the anti-spam legislation defines a commercial electronic message (CEM) as a digital message sent to any electronic address – email address, social media account, text message – that is tied to commercial activity, examples being advertising a product, service or investment.

To be able to send a CEM to a recipient, prior consent must be in place. There are two types of consent – implied and express:

Implied consent means there were past dealings and sharing of contact information:

  • Existing business relationship – recipient has interacted with your business through making an inquiry or a purchase,
  • Existing non-business relationship – You are a registered charity, political party or candidate, and the recipient has interacted with you by making a donation or has done volunteer work,
  • Recipient made their contact information available to you – the recipient disclosed their email address to you without any restrictions.

If the email address was obtained under implied consent, there is a further stipulation that, within three years,  consent must be reconfirmed more rigorously, which leads us to –

Express consent, meaning the recipient has opted into your contact list by filling out a form and validating their subscription through a confirmation email.

It’s the “Express Consent” version that will form the basis of most future email address acquisition. Acquisition falls into three steps:

  1. Capture – you bring traffic to one of your on-line properties and direct them to your blog or website. For example, you highlight an information offering by posting to one or more social media platforms such as Twitter, Linked in and Google+ with a link to your website’s blog.  Or you use paid advertising such as Adwords to offer an insider’s guide or white paper on an optimized landing page that has a sign-up form.
  2. Convince – you offer interesting and useful information to the reader that made their visit to your blog or landing page worthwhile.
  3. Convert – with the proper Call-To-Action (CTA) you invite the visitor to take advantage of signing up for future quality information.

At this point your properly configured email software will send the confirmation email to your new contact for verification so that you meet the conditions of express consent.