Are you intimated by the Anti-Spam Legislation? Are you uncertain about whether or not you can send out marketing campaigns to your customer database? Here are some answers for you.
This July the anti- spam legislation in Canada finished its final phase in the multi- year rollout.
We have found that some dealerships are still unsure about how this regulation will affect them and their marketing efforts. That’s why we have put together a high- level overview of some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the anti-spam law.
WHAT IS CASL?
CASL is the anti-spam law that will apply to businesses that carry out commercial activities and send out electronic commercial messages (such as emails/ texts) to its customers.
WHAT IS A COMMERCIAL ELECTRONIC MESSAGE?
A commercial electronic message (CEM’s) refers to any message you send to your customers in an attempt to convince them to develop a commercial activity with your business. It includes offers, sales information, promotion of a business or encourages use of a product or service.
HOW IS CONSENT DEFINED?
There are 2 types of consent: express and implied.
This means that an individual has agreed verbally or in writing to receive email communications from you. Express consent does not expire after a certain period of time has passed, and is valid until the individual withdraws their consent by “unsubscribing”. When you engage with prospects, or customers for that matter, it is always a smart idea to ask for their opt-in to receive email communications from your dealership. You can get that opt-in from your website interactions, direct marketing, when you are speaking to a consumer on the phone and of course, when you are face-to-face at your dealership. Expressed consent is long lasting!
If express consent was not obtained from an individual, they can still imply consent by specific activities. For example, if someone purchased a product/ service from your dealership or inquired about your dealerships services. This is considered implied consent under CASL legislation and allows marketers to send CEM’s to these individuals.
WHO CAN I CONTACT?
You can contact all current customers who have opted-in to receive email communications from your dealership.
You can contact a past customer who has purchased a product or service from you within the last 24 months.
You can contact individuals who have made inquiries within the last 6 months.
WHAT ARE THE CASL EXEMPTIONS?
Any CEM’s that are sent to someone that you have a personal relationship with like friends and family. As well as with organizations who you already have an existing relationship with.
Any CEM’s that are in response to any complaints, requests or legal obligations.
WHAT CHANGES WERE MADE IN JULY 2017?
Implied consents have the potential to expire
Now that the transition period has ended, marketers can only email customers that have given their express consent or implied consent that is currently valid under CASL. That is 24 months after a purchase of a product/ service or 6 months after an inquiry. If an individual does not “renew” their consent within that time frame, it will expire. For example if they did not purchase from you again within the 2 year period or give their express consent.
Private Right of Action in effect
The CASL sections that deal with the Private Right of Action was due to come into effect July 1st 2017. Currently these provisions are suspended, the government will ask a parliamentary committee to review the legislation. If they do come into effect it will mean that if you do not comply with CASL the recipient can sue the sender for both actual and punitive damages. According to fightspam.gc.ca, “penalties for the most serious violations of the Act can go as high as $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses”.
If an individual who represents your company sends out CEM’s that were not approved or allowed by the company and does not comply with CASL they can be held personally liable. Ensure that all your staff understand CASL legislation and not just those within the marketing department.
8 THINGS THAT YOUR DEALERSHIP SHOULD BE DOING:
1. Restricting your dealership’s mass email campaigns to focus on a list of all customers who have been in for service, or purchased anything from your dealership, within the past 24 months. This will ensure that everyone you contact via email is at a minimum compliant under the “implied consent” category of CASL regulations.
2. Only sending CEM’s to individuals who have consented to receive email communications from you (express or implied).
3. Keeping and maintaining all records of consent (express or implied).
4. Removing an email address from your database as soon as their consent expires and they did not renew.
5. Clearly identifying your business by providing your business name, address, telephone number and email address in your promotional messages and email signatures.
6. All emails that are being sent out include a working unsubscribe link, unsubscribe requests cannot take more than 10 business days.
7. Documenting your dealership’s CASL/ Unsubscribe process.
8. Reach out to all your implied consent clients to get their express consent. Ask anyone who connects with the dealership through calls, emails, purchases for their express consent to send them important information, email offers, updates, recalls etc.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU DIDN’T CLEAN UP YOUR DATABASE BEFORE JULY 1ST 2017
When CASL was first rolled out in 2014, it gave everyone a 3-year grace period to get your ducks in a row. This allowed you to email your customers and ask them to opt-in to receive email communications from you.
If this was not done at your dealership we would recommend going into your records and keeping all the sales/ service records from the last 24 months and inquiries from the last 6 months and removing email addresses from all the other records that do not meet these required timeframes.
Remember that you can still market to those older customers within your database by doing a direct mail campaign or even by giving them a call!
Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help you drive marketing results and sales leads while complying with the CASL legislation.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CASL HERE: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-1.6/index.html
Disclaimer: This post is providing a high-level overview of CASL. This should not be taken as legal advice. Please contact your attorney for advice on email marketing regulations.