Anti-Spam Legislation: The Business Opportunity

With the CASL back in the news cycle (this time for malware updates), we figured this would be a great opportunity to review CASL and discuss opportunities to capitalize on this legislation.

On July 1st of 2014 a surprisingly large number companies who conduct business online scrambled to become compliant with the brand new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). CASL has added a much needed layer of protection to our Canadian email inboxes while also forcing us, as marketers, to take the ethical ‘high road’.

Of course with any law and legal experts a plenty, there are always ways to get around legislation like CASL without technically breaking the law. One such example brought to light by the consulting firm Deloitte is to spam from somewhere outside of Canada. This however requires the setup and/or management of a foreign legal entity, and begs the question that if sidestepping CASL is a choice that will yield results superior to complying and investing in your online presence accordingly. As owners of a digital marketing agency we may be a bit biased, but our approach is and always has been to build opted in lists for our clients, and serve each member of these lists with relevant content aimed to drive short and long term revenue.

The rules set in place by this legislation should have, in our opinion, always been the standard. By avoiding spamming the world, we as marketers not only improve the data we can collect from our campaigns but we also avoid potentially crushing web penalties. Perhaps most importantly, we can also establish our businesses as true digital leaders representing a brand that can be trusted.

What are the CASL rules?

Canadian Anti-Spam LawThe fundamental idea of CASL is simple. Your email list subscribers must opt-in to receive emails from your business. That is, they had to make the conscious decision to express interest in receiving communication from your company, presumably because what you have to share is relevant to them.

There are varying levels of consent, which we will not get into – however if you are concerned that you may be operating in a grey area, we advise you contact legal counsel to mitigate your risk.

When sending out commercial emails, you and anyone operating on your businesses behalf are required to list the following:

  • Company name
  • Physical address
  • Telephone number
  • Corporate email address or website URL

A very important component that is also needed is an unsubscribe button, which if clicked by a user, must be processed within 10 business days.

Risks to spamming:

Legal implications such as the fact that any individual who believes you are spamming them can take you to court aside, there have been safe guards on the Internet for years. By participating in spam, or what may be considered grey area when it comes to spam, your emails are likely to be caught in the dark world that is the junk folder. Ending up here, will inevitably have you residing alongside the likes of less than credible online pharmaceutical, diet companies and need I say more.

Any spam marked by an end user can very quickly lead to your domain or IP address being blacklisted by one of the 100+ blacklist registries that exist to keep our inboxes free of scams, malware and all around junk. When your domain is blacklisted your email delivery rates tank, and the success of your campaign along with them.

By participating in spam, the risk of having your domain blacklisted is very real and could bring your companies online communications to a complete halt.

Inevitably, when your reputation is on the line – standard business school litmus tests need apply (read, would I be embarrassed if a loved one read about this in the newspaper).

As digital marketers, the trends in our technical tool sets have empowered us to better optimize all that we do in the name of ROI. This legislation couldn’t have come at a better time as the Internet has taken the centre stage for how businesses are run today.


The path we should all be on:

Certainly you have read or heard that in the digital era content is king. While this is true, if you are sharing your content with an opted in and thus relevant audience, your results are already setup to yield maximum benefit.

By following the guidelines set out by CASL, such as the simple act of including an unsubscribe button, you reduce the likelihood of your emails being marked as spam by a recipient. No hard feelings, just a simple declaration of disinterest can be used to better understand the true value of your list.

By implementing a marketing automation platform, of which there are many, you can start with a broad list built on basic information. With time and a solid strategy, you can craft this list into an actionable database, segmented by how engaged each subscriber is with your brand, content and/or sales process.

You can then further leverage and capitalize on this engagement by setting up conversion funnels that start with your emails, and flow through to landing pages that are tailored to what most interests each segment of your audience. Here lies the potential nurturing gold. You can now further your conversion funnel(s) by serving a series of timely, customized emails based on the specific actions each visitor takes to engage with your content.

Sign up for a webinar, go down path A. Add an item to your shopping cart, go down path B. Complete a web form to book an appointment with a sales person, go down path C.

These paths can and should continually evolve as the members of your list make more and more decisions on how they feel about what you are communicating.

By truly communicating with your potential sales leads, customers, partners or blog readers, you set the stage for a continuous data driven feedback cycle. With proper analysis this data can lead to truly profitable relationships.



Dan Goldstein

Dan Goldstein

Director, Client Marketing

Dan lives and breaths all things marketing and all things tech. He has spent the last 10 years helping B2B focused organizations startup, expand and scale. Dan and his team at Neumarkets help B2B companies ramp up customer acquisition and customer lifetime value in order to achieve their next level of growth and set the roadmap for continued success. After hours you will normally find Dan experimenting in the kitchen or out exercising with his wife and pup.