CASL: "It's Too Hard"

 Nov 25, 2017 11:00 AM
by Derek Lackey

We are hearing a lot of whining and complaining about CASL from a few characters claiming to represent Canadian businesses. They are attempting to build a case for returning to an opt-out system, or at the very least a hybrid system, so it is easier to spam people. We are scratching our head regarding most of their arguments. In fact, it brings to mind a 7 year old throwing a fit because they don't want to do what they're told. So let's try to explain why CASL is needed. 

Why do I have to have consent? 

  1. Because your prospects and customers deserve respect. Their inbox belongs to them and you should ask if they are interested in the kinds of messages you would like to send them. HINT: if they say NO or do not respond, they are likely either not interested OR they do not like the messages or the frequency of messages. NOT providing consent when you ask is a message in itself.
  2. Because there are far too many unwanted email messages already. You're either part of the problem or part of the solution.
  3. Because if we don't stop inundating them with email, people will find a better way to communicate and email will find it's way to the trash bin. Some individuals have already decided email is a waste of time. Primary reason: we have peppered them with irrelevant messages. Yes I know they are relevant to you - the sender - just not to your entire audience. My proof is the exceptionally poor open rates we seem to find acceptable.
  4. Because it's the law.

But I have never had to have consent before. Why now?

  1. Because we blew it. As businesses and marketers we BLASTED at will - relevance be damned. Is anyone else in marketing embarrassed that the Government had to step in and insist that we treat our prospects and customers with respect? Canada was the last G8 country to pass an anti spam law. By the time we arrived at the table we could see how much of a mess it was.

Fact is we almost destroyed email marketing as a valuable tool in our marketing kit. It is an exceptional way to communicate and interact with customers and near-customers - a very important group of people for most companies. But we insisted on using it to create awareness which it is very weak at. 

Email is not a mass marketing tool and we should stop treating it like one just because it is so cheap to execute.

Lets be honest. It has been the "best bang for the buck" and without regulations we have been able to do whatever WE want. Whatever is best for us. Yet good marketers think "Customer First" (or used to) and these tactics fly in the face of customer-centric marketing. How did we let it get this far? Have you given your email address to any retailer lately? Yikes! Thank the Government for mandating a working unsubscribe in every email. I know getting off some lists is like trying to get dog poo off your hiking boots, but having it be part of our anti spam law helps.

So what are the elements of CASL anyway?

  • First, you must prove your consent to email an individual - 1-to-1 or using bulk email blasts. There are 5 types of consent under CASL.
  • Next you must be transparent in every communication and include the full company name, postal address, a contact name and 2 ways to reach them.
  • You also must have a working unsubscribe in every email. "Working" is defined as being able to unsubscribe within 2 clicks and being removed from the list with 10 business days (2 weeks). 2 clicks; 2 weeks.

Pretty simple. If you are just starting to build your email list, CASL compliance is the right way to manage email marketing. And it is easy to design a series of processes to enable you to show proof if required.

The difficulty in being CASL compliant is changing the poor email habits and processes that we already have in place. That's what is causing all the whining and complaining about how tough CASL is: people HATE change. Especially when they do not undertsand WHY.

Campaign Monitor reports there are 180 billion spam messages sent every day. (A colleague suggested SpamHaus has state a number far North of that).
One message to one inbox is no problem. 180 Billion every day...
We all have the experience of our inbox being taken over by messages that we have no need for, commitment to or interest in. 

CASL is designed to return the control of our inbox back to the individual. And it's working.

Should we make some changes to CASL based on what we have learned in the first 3 years of enforcement? Yes. The lawyers have pointed out several issues and they should certainly be rectified. But for the most part, it is working and we should just all adjust. At the end of the day, as Kim Arsenault of Inbox Marketer says " It is what our clients have been doing all along. CASL did not change much in our world as we knew it was simply best practices for email marketing, when you put your customer first." 

As it relates to email marketing, are you putting your customer first?