What is CASL?
Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) was created to protect Canadians from spam. It is the legislation which regulates commercial email, designed to keep unwanted and unrequested electronic messages out of user's accounts. CASL directly affects how businesses market to consumers.
The CASL Challenge
The message from CASL to business owners is to stop sending emails, text messages and other types of electronic communication materials without prior agreement from the recipient.
Before July 1 2015, businesses were given the opportunity to ask customers to opt-in for receipt of promotional materials. They could send emails or other electronic messages to existing customers, asking their permission to continue sending them electronic promotional materials. Unfortunately, the majority of businesses missed their chance to take advantage of this opportunity. Now, they must start from scratch and use a different method to collect leads.
Many marketers are cringing at the new CASL standards. They feel limited in their marketing channels and burdened with the increased effort of collecting and reaching leads. While it's true CASL presents some new challenges, a closer examination of the law reveals some new opportunities as well. A look at the pros and cons of CASL reveals effective ways marketers can use this new spam law to their advantage.
Increase in Email Appreciation & Excitement: When a customer's inbox is full of spam, they are unlikely to treat is as a reliable source of information. On the other hand, if the only emails that land in their inbox do so because the user gave permission, they will view their email as a great source of relevant updates from companies they know and love. Only receiving emails and text messages about the products and services which interest them makes getting these notices an exciting and positive experience.
Maximum Relevance: The statistics are simple. Relevant email has higher open rates and clicks. A previous campaign to 100 email addresses may have resulted in a 20% open rate. That's 80 disinterested customers whom marketers spent time and energy registering for the campaign. While future campaigns may be sent to fewer customers (only those who have given permission), the open rate will be much higher because 100% of recipients will be interested customers. The overall result is a reduction in wasted effort and an increase in email views. That's a definite win.
B2B Exemption: The law allows marketers to send relevant promotional materials to contacts with whom they have a business relationship. Companies have the freedom to email customers for two years after the last transaction, as long as they have not unsubscribed.
CASL allows further B2B marketing via public emails. Companies may send an electronic message containing a commercial offer to an email address that has been openly published. The only stipulation is that the recipient's sphere of specialization must match the content of the message.
More Resources: With the new law in place, marketers must reconsider their strategies. If they missed their chance to send opt-in messages to existing customers, marketers will now need more resources to gather leads from scratch.
To better understand the impact, consider the following scenarios:
- Marketers can no longer give away an e-book and by default generate a lead from every download. They must now ask permission to include the customer in an email list after the download. While free e-books can still be an effective marketing tool, gathering leads using this method is more challenging with CASL in place.
- Messages sent to customers should include a line informing subscribers that they can unsubscribe any time they want. Giving customers this easy out could result in reduced leads. Because they can opt out at any time, receiving permission from a customer does not guarantee long-term exposure to marketing campaigns.
Better Recordkeeping: Under the restrictions of CASL, the burden is on marketers to prove a particular customer gave his or her permission to be contacted with promotional materials. In the case of a complaint, the company must have a record of the customer's agreement to avoid repercussions. This means marketers must keep very accurate records of all permissions. Businesses must spend more time and money to develop reliable and flexible recordkeeping software
More Stress: Companies face fines if mistakes are made. Inaccuracies can be costly. A recent poll conducted by itracMarketer shows that 54% of Canadians would consider legal action under CASL laws. This high percentage strikes fear into Canadian marketers and incentivizes them to be as accurate as possible with recordkeeping and future campaigns.
Recordkeeping a Top Priority
With the burden of proof falling on the shoulders of the business, it is essential for a company to easily track and record customer permissions. Appropriate recordkeeping must ensure the company can prove that a customer gave prior agreement for inclusion on a promotional list.
To achieve the best business practices, companies must go beyond basic recordkeeping. The system must be flexible enough to be integrated with lead generation platforms and keep an accurate record of every single registered customer. Information tracking should include:
- Date customer opted in
- Communication history
This will likely require buying or developing software and appropriately integrating it with the company's existing CRM software.
This blog post originally appeared on TTAG Systems' SMS Marketing Blog.
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