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Posted by Eno Qiu on July 28, 2017

Since the moment Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) hit the floor in Parliament, there has been a captivated audience of marketers and communications professionals wondering how this new regulation will impact their current digital marketing strategies. Some believe the legislation won't move the dial when it comes to preventing spam, while others argue that people won't "consent" even if they were enjoying the emails.

Although this regulation does, in fact, have marketers paying more attention to their approach online, it also gives the everyday consumer ownership over their inbox - no more unsolicited messages, from Canada at least.

As a result of this regulation, consumers have seen a wide reaction from brands, from frequent "opt-in" emails, to "reconfirming subscriptions", all with an easy to find "unsubscribe" hyperlink at the bottom of the message. In addition to reactions from brands, there are also plenty of articles weighing in on the effects this change will have, whether it is good or bad and if the law will actually be enforced.

There is no shortage of analysis on what this means for brands, but for marketers, CASL poses a challenge that can be applied to any media - being relevant in the eyes of your target audience. So while the first step in navigating the CASL regulation is to ensure your email marketing list is up to date and doing so consistently, the second step should be a strategy on how to stay relevant and keep your current subscribers engaged so they don't hit that unsubscribe button. 

How can brands be compliant AND competitive?  

1. Get Explicit Consent

Implied consent is no longer enough and there is an expiration date on it. For example, when people buy your product, the implied consent is valid for 2 years, and for an inquiry about your product or service, the consent is only valid for only 6 months. If the customers haven't expressed consent or renewed the current implicit consent during that time frame, you no longer are allowed to send them promotional material.

Aritzia's sign-up window

(Image source: screenshot from Aritzia official website)

Under this new legislation, digital marketers need to update landing pages and subscription forms to be CASL compliant - eliminating any unclear or imposed opt-in functions. Things like:

- Remove pre-checked subscription boxes

- Use double opt-in procedures to confirm subscription

- Provide one-click unsubscribe function in all communications

Meanwhile, company information also needs to be transparent so recipients can easily and clearly identify your brand.

2. Adjust Reputation Management Tactics

Not just email marketing, CASL covers a wide range of electronic messages, including social media messaging. It is important for digital marketers to engage followers and protect themselves in this space too.

There will be instances when people are sending messages (direct messages or mentions) like complaints to your brand via social media.  If you offering them unsolicited discounts, coupons or gift cards, then your response would be a violation of CASL. As important as it is to promptly respond to social media followers, not every issue can be resolved online. Try to gently hand over the issue to your offline team and get in touch with that customer directly. 

(Image resource:

3. Focus On Top Leads

Considering every name on your email list is a great opportunity to identify those that do not engage with your brand. If you risk losing a sizeable portion of your list by removing unengaged names, a new acquisition strategy would be of benefit.

 “20% of your customers bring you 80% of your revenue”, we believe that the old 80/20 rule still applies. Look at: 

- How much engagement or activity you are getting? Total clicks? Open rate? New website sessions? New social media followers?

- How many people unsubscribed or subscribed? What is the trigger? Can you take advantage of that? 

- Who are the top clicks? What are the top domains? Top links?

While some of the elements of CASL are debatable, one thing is for sure - this legislation is a baby step in returning the power of our contact information to the individuals that own it, and as a result, motivating marketers to do better.

Wondering how this legislation could impact your brand? Let's talk.

Read more:

CASL 1 Year Later: How it has impacted marketers

CASL Q&A - You've got questions, we've got answers

3 Simple Ways to Save $150,000

What Every Marketer Should Know About Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation