Canada’s anti-spam legislation will have a significant impact on the way you communicate with your clients, prospects and other professional contacts. But rather than regard this new law as a problem, says Javed Khan, president of EMpression in Aurora, Ont., think of it as an opportunity to improve the way you market yourself.
“If you look at successful digital marketers,” Khan says, “they are always asking for permission to market to people.”
Sending commercial electronic messages (CEMs) — such as emails, newsletters and economic updates — to individuals who are actually interested in receiving them is simply efficient use of your marketing efforts.
While understanding the principal requirements of CASL is important, so is knowing how to apply those regulations to your day-to-day business activities. Consider the following common business communication situations and how you would handle them in accordance with CASL:
CASL recognizes that express consent can be obtained by word of mouth. So, if you meet a prospect in person, oral consent must meet specific requirements, says Wendy Mee, an associate with Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto.
In order for your new contacts’ consent to be recognized, they must be informed of certain details before receiving your CEMs. For example, they must know exactly what will be sent to them, your mailing address and another method of getting in touch with you. They must also receive a statement saying that consent can be withdrawn at any time.
Another consideration is that you need to be able to prove that this exchange took place.
You should, therefore, incorporate a confirmation email into your communications strategy, says Robert Burko, president of Elite Email in Toronto.
If a new networking contact tells you he or she would like to receive commercial content from you, make a note on that person’s business card and send a follow-up email the following day. In the email, briefly recount your conversation and ask the recipient to confirm that he or she would like to receive the content you discussed. The confirmation email should also include all the information that is required for consent to be valid.
This email exchange will provide you with a record of the consent, including time, date and IP address.
CASL allows you to send one CEM based on a referral. Note that even a message simply introducing yourself to a referred person counts as a CEM.
A CEM based on a referral must meet certain conditions.
For one, you must be clear that the person who provided the referral has an existing business relationship or personal relationship both with you and with the person being referred. Also, the parties involved must be “natural persons,” not corporations, Mee says. (Referral agreements between firms will be harder to enact under CASL.)
As in any proper CEM, you must fully identify yourself, provide your mailing address and include an option to unsubscribe as well as a permission reminder.
“If [you] don’t actually draw out the whole story of how that referral came to be,” Burko says, “that message is non-compliant.”
So, be sure to explain how you received that recipient’s contact information and the full name of the person who provided those details.
Next: CASL and social media.