While anti-spam laws aren’t anything new in the world of email marketing, Canada’s upcoming legislation is definitely popping up on plenty of radars in the industry. With some heavy-hitting regulations and some of the strictest wording marketers have ever seen, it’s definitely in your best interests to be up to speed with these changes. To help you keep your great messages reaching interested customers, let’s break down Canada’s new anti-spam legislation, as well as what your brand needs to do so that you have everything in order when these rules go live in July.
The Particulars of the Bill
At the heart of the bill, lawmakers here in Canada want to keep the world of marketed messages completely separate from the decidedly less savory emails that spawn from shady sources across the net. This means introducing legislation that cracks down on spam, hacking, illicit data harvesting, spyware, fraud, and pretty much any other breech of privacy that can happen via your audiences’ inboxes. For brands and marketers who end up on the wrong side of this law, the penalties levied by the government are nothing short of harsh.
In fact, senders that aren’t in compliance run the risk of facing fines that can reach a maximum of $10 million per each specific violation. Naturally, that’s a worst case scenario of the most extreme variety, but it’s a great way to explain just how serious the Canadian government’s penalty system is when it comes to cracking down on individuals and brands alike who misuse and abuse marketed or mass emails.
Why Is This Happening?
The reason for all of this is that more people than ever – over 3.9 billion last year to be exact – are using email to stay in touch, creating ample opportunity for both good and bad practices to occur in the inbox. While this is great for your business in terms of reaching out to customers who are interested in your products and services, it also means that hackers and spammers can also prey on these same people with clever deceptions and outright fraudulent activity. With that in mind, it’s hard to blame our government, and plenty of others around the world, for cracking down on those who employ shady tactics when trying to pull a quick one via marketed emails.
Making Sure You’re In Compliance
Considering that there’s no grace period for this new act, having everything in gear when July rolls around is crucial to the continued success and viability of your email marketing campaign. At the heart of the legislation is a shift from implied to express consent. Before, some brands simply took a customer’s interest in its products or services as enough consent to warrant email contact. However, that’s no longer going to be good enough. Instead, when this change goes live, express consent, in the form of an opt-in agreement, will be the new required minimum to start connecting with your audience.
It’s important to note that sending off emails after July 1 requesting this consent will actually be in violation of the new rules, so if you want to keep the government off your back, you’ll need to get to work on verifying opt-ins with your readers. A great way to do this is to go through your email list and see which entries have express consent and which ones might be closer to the implied side of the scale. Not only will this help you clean up your contact list and do a little housekeeping, but it can also help you roll out opt-in confirmations before the hammer drops on these types of messages.
Understanding the Ramifications of This Change
At first glance, all of this is a lot to digest in one sitting, but it speaks to a bigger change in the email marketing industry as a whole that’s well worth noting. Canada definitely isn’t the first country to crack down on the shadier side of this business sector, and it won’t be the last, so placing an emphasis on quality, and not quantity, is the only way to survive this transition. If your brand has simply slapped together messages and called it good enough up until now, that simply won’t fly anymore.
The best way to prosper, both now and after the new legislation goes live, is to attract readers with high quality content that adds value to the marketing experience. By going this route, you not only stay on the right side of the law, but you also give your audience a reason to stick with your email campaign. For brands that are truly looking to maximize returns on marketed messages, this part of the formula hasn’t changed, even if the rules surrounding it are going through some serious upheaval.