Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation – Avoid the Heartburn and Re-Engage Your Audience

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation - Avoid the Heartburn and Re-Engage Your AudienceAs most of you have heard, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is taking effect on July 1, 2014, affecting all email marketers with an audience in Canada. The law was implemented in order to “help protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace.”

Yes, the laws are getting stricter for sending marketing emails in Canada. Yes, you need to ensure your recipients are opting into your subscriptions for promotional emails and texts. And generally no, you cannot send misleading emails, collect personal information electronically without permission, or automatically install computer programs without the express consent of the owner.

And while most articles will give you all the details about the new law, no one is focusing on the solution.

The Opt-In, Re-Engagement Solution

First, make sure your email subscriptions are opt-in, requiring a user to sign-up for your emails (Tweet This). For even higher quality registrants, require a double opt-in, meaning after they sign up to receive your emails, you send them a confirmation email asking them to confirm the subscription. The double opt-in process is not mandatory in the United States, Canada, and some European Countries; however, it does provide an extra layer of protection against potential litigation in the future. Double opt-ins usually lead to higher open rates and lower bounce and unsubscribe rates, as compared to single opt-ins.

Next, run a re-engagement campaign. Create a segment with all Canadian emails and exclude them from all current email programs and subscriptions. Send those contacts a targeted campaign asking for them to opt back in to your emails (Tweet).

Related: The Email Marketer’s Project Brief Template

Running a CASL Compliant Re-Engagement Campaign

The following steps will help you create a re-engagement campaign to comply with the new CASL.

  1. Isolate and suppress all Canadian subscribers using their email address ( and address fields (city, state, postal code). Put these individuals in a special list or segment  and suppress them from normal email campaigns and subscriptions.
  2. Create a re-engagement email asking customers to opt back in to receive your emails. Make sure this email is easy to use, and worded clearly. If the recipient takes no action in the email, they will be removed from your lists; if they wish to continue receiving your emails, “click the button,” or some other obvious CTA.
    1. Opted back in – if subscribers opt back in, make sure you have a process for removing them from your Canadian suppression list.
    2. No action – if subscribers do not take an action, they remain on the Canadian suppression list
    3. Opt out – don’t hide the unsubscribe link. Allow these people to easily unsubscribe if they want to.
  3. Resend the email at 2-3 more times to people who did not take an action (b above). When you resend, make sure you send on different days of the week and different times of day in order to reach the greatest number of people.

Inevitably, you will get questions from your fellow marketers, “Can we send to the people who didn’t opt back in?” and “Technically, they didn’t actually unsubscribe, so we can still use that list, right?” And technically the answer is yes, but practically, NO. Stand your ground. Explain that you could be at risk of breaking the law and that you are managing an email program following best practices. You can also add that, if these people didn’t open any of your 3-4 re-engagement emails, chances are good that they aren’t highly engaged subscribers anyway, so they are not a great use of your time and resources.

Related: 6 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

Now that you have the tools to re-engage your Canadian audience, hopefully the Anti-Spam Legislation doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.

More details about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation can be found here:

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation Website

CakeMail’s Blog

Fulcrum Tech’s Blog

Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice and should not be used in place of legal advice. It is written to help marketers understand the requirements for compliance to CASL, the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation going into effect July 1, 2014.

Rachel Youngberg

Rachel Youngberg

Author's Social Links: Author Google Plus Profile Link Author Facebook Profile Link Author Twitter Profile Link Author LinkedIn Profile Link

Rachel Youngberg is a Content Marketer at who believes all marketing, including B2B, is actually just P2P (person to person). She is a writer turned marketer specializing in strategy and execution of email, web, and social efforts. The only thing she loves more than the Internet is tea.

Rachel has a B.A. in Journalism and Honors Comparative Religion from Carthage College, though the religion is admittedly less useful in her current role.

In her free time, Rachel enjoys Bollywood dancing, knitting, traveling, and trying new foods.

View Comments

2 Responses to Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation – Avoid the Heartburn and Re-Engage Your Audience

  1. shawn says:

    Thx Rachel, do companies with existing opt in and double opt in recipients still require further consent before July 1st? What about membership (on a site) where you needed to register an account to use/participate on the site… or even for example, my email needed to post this comment?

    • Rachel Youngberg says:

      Hi Shawn, sorry for the delay. Double opt-in practices are the safest way to go, and companies already doing that should be all set. If you have not always been running a double opt-in, you may want to run a re-engagement campaign for legacy contacts. For membership sites and when a user registers an account, transactional emails would be fine, but I would recommend having some sort of opt-in for any promotional or marketing emails. If it stated in the terms and conditions that registering also signs the user up to receive promotional emails, you wouldn’t have to, but it’s just best practice to either allow the user to opt-out during the sign-up process or ask them to opt in after registration is completed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>