Has CASL Restricted the Growth of Email Marketing in Canada?

As the July 1st enforcement date for Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) came creeping closer and closer back in 2014, doomsayers and pessimists alike from Halifax to Vancouver decried this event as the end of email marketing in Canada. In some digital circles, this sentiment still holds strong to this day.

But has CASL really restricted or hindered the growth of brands like your own in the inbox? To answer this question once and for all, let’s spend a few minutes digging into this conversation, as well as the facts and figures that truly tell the story of Canada’s current email marketing landscape.

Understanding the Logic of This Claim

In a lot of ways, the concept of CASL as a “death sentence” for email marketing in Canada makes plenty of sense. After all, the laws that comprise this code are strict and unyielding, so it stands to reason that this legislation doesn’t do brands like your own any favors as it tries to make the most of its inbox operations.

Going a step farther, by removing or invalidating certain email marketing practices that fall outside of the newly defined realm of acceptable methods, it’s safe to say that CASL also cut down on the outreach “toolboxes” of some brands. Right or wrong, there’s no denying that this development was – and still is – quite concerning for plenty of members of the Canadian email marketing community.

Breaking down Email Marketing’s Rapid Growth

However, the truth of the matter is that the negative assumptions regarding CASL’s impact on email marketing don’t actually have any basis in reality. To prove this point, you have to look no farther than a recent report compiled by a team of research experts from eMarketer.

As this report explains, email marketing’s growth hasn’t actually been stymied in any discernible way by the implementation of CASL’s rules and regulations. In fact, there’s a strong case to be made for the exact opposite outcome in terms of CASL’s impact on email marketing.

Specifically, since the implementation of this legislation, Canadian email ad spend has jumped by an astonishing 14.8 percent, reaching $21.8 million CAD.  While this number is definitely impressive on its own, the fact that projections for the end of 2016 push this number up to $24 million CAD are even more remarkable.

How CASL Actually Helped Bolster Canada’s Email Marketing Scene

So why exactly would the installation of stringent punishments for inbox offenders spur email marketing to grow and prosper? Jess Nelson of Media Post’s Email Marketing Daily blog points to two key developments as the primary causes for this unexpected upward trend.

The first development on Nelson’s radar is the advent of cleaner and more accurate email contact lists. CASL compliance promotes the removal of inactive or dormant contact list members, as well as transparent opt-out policies, so it makes sense for the average campaign to have access to only the most engaged and active viewership.

Outside of the increased quality of the average inbox following, Nelson also notes that email marketing performance as a whole has improved dramatically during this time period. Yes, CASL has been an impediment for the brands that aren’t willing to elevate their content offerings to the enhanced threshold set forth by these guidelines, but it has also significantly bolstered the quality of content from the organizations that are willing to take up this challenge.

Is There a Cap to the Growth Potential of Email Marketing?

As with any trend or growth pattern, there’s no surefire way to predict where it’s heading in the future with 100 percent certainty. Even so, jumping back to the research from the team over at eMarketer shows us that there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to forecasting email marketing’s future in Canada.

In total, these experts report that email marketing ad spend should continue increasing steadily all the way through 2019 – even if it does taper off a bit toward the end of the decade. As far as exact numbers go, 2017 currently projects a growth rate of eight percent, while 2018 and 2019 clock in at seven percent and six percent, respectively.

Once you get down to the facts, there’s no denying that CASL has had a surprisingly positive impact on the email marketing landscape overall. Moving forward, chances are that this legislative force will continue to reshape the industry in its image as the laws and regulations that comprise CASL continue to advance and evolve.

About Victor Green

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