Are You CASL Compliant?

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As of July 1st, 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will come into effect. All “commercial electronic messages” sent to Canadians must be CASL compliant or risk incurring millions of dollars in fines for the sender.

And although it’s a Canadian legislation, the CASL affects anyone marketing to Canadians; whether they are located in Canada or not. Any unsolicited email sent to a Canadian email address could result in a maximum fine of $1M for an individual and up to $10M for organizations.

That even includes current list members: all potential Canadian message recipients must have opted-in according to CASL standards. Purchased lists and contacts whose opt-in was in some way automatic are no longer “safe” to contact. Even “accidental” non-compliance can result in heavy penalization and legal plights.

Should You Go It Alone into CASL Compliance?

Unfortunately, the legal jargon and level of detail make it hard to read the formal CASL legislation, let alone understand what you should be doing differently. Don’t get overwhelmed! To avoid gambling millions of dollars on a preventable mistake, there are a few changes you can make to ensure your marketing processes are CASL compliant.

It’s often best to start with an assessment of current marketing processes to get a sense of what’s compliant, what might need to change and how to go about changing it, but the complexity of the CASL makes it difficult, and even risky, to do this alone. A CASL consultant, however, will develop a strategy that will ensure compliance going forward.

One big challenge with CASL compliance is that the legislation applies to a variety of processes, beyond the electronic messages themselves. Contact databases will obviously need to be screened, but so will any other asset involved in finding and managing those contacts: sign-up forms and webpages; subscription management; even links that require a contact to input their data in exchange for some reward.

The other challenge is that the assessment and the strategy are only the first step in CASL compliance: it is one thing to know what needs to change and another thing entirely to actually make those changes. If some of your opt-in forms were not CASL compliant, you have to overhaul them, obviously, and this is a task in and of itself. But that also means you have to re-confirm the subscription of every contact “captured” by those assets, a process that the CASL ends up making even more challenging.

As long as those steps are in the right direction, it only takes a few steps to guarantee that you meet the CASL guidelines. Working towards compliance can be a challenge and a risk if you do it alone; to avoid a million dollar gamble, work with a CASL consultant.

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To view our our guide A Marketer’s Guide to Becoming CASL Compliant, visit

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