I have met a lot of new business people over the past year and sometimes I am surprised when I start receiving their newsletter updates.
This might seem smart. Why don’t we add all of the business card emails we receive to our newsletter update list?! Well there’s one BIG reason called CAN Spam!
What is CAN Spam?
As of July 1st, 2014 Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL aka CAN Spam) came in to effect. This legislation set the following parameters:
- You must have expressed or implied consent.
- You must clearly identify yourself and/or the organization sending the message.
- You must allow all message recipients to unsubscribe in your message through a text or button link.
Let’s go through each of these.
You must have expressed or implied consent.
If a person gives you a business card AND gives you permission to add them to your newsletter list then go for it. But if they just give you a business card that is not consent for newsletter emailings. They may not even know you have a newsletter. It never hurts to ask so do that before adding them and if you forget to ask then send them a personal one time email asking them if adding them to your newsletter list would be ok with them.
This is also why when you sign up for a newsletter you get a confirmation request. This way the email marketing client (Mad Mimi, aweber, constant contact, etc…) can confirm that you in fact added your own email address.
You must clearly identify yourself and/or the organization sending the message.
To do so you can add a signature in the bottom bar of your email but this needs to include more than just your name or business name. You must also include a physical address. If you work at home you may choose to rent an address or give a general address like I do. I simply leave out my apartment number. Some also include phone numbers but this isn’t mandatory.
You must allow all message recipients to unsubscribe in your message through a text or button link.
Using an email marketing client is a smart move for keeping track of these unsubscribes and ensuring the option is in there. All of the email marketing clients include an unsubscribe option so you won’t have to worry about making sure it’s in there.
Conclusion and Penalties
These rules are actually quite simple but you’d be surprised by how many Canadians don’t know these rules.
You can set up an email newsletter for free with Mad Mimi so there’s no reason to hold off and make mistakes. However, if you add people randomly they may still mark you as spam to their email provider which can get you cut off my your email marketing client and listed as spam to email providers like gmail and msn (hotmail). Another reason this could happen is if you don’t email your list and they forget who you are but that’s a topic for another time.
The penalties can be simple at first. You would have your account shut down and banned but if it goes higher than that according to the FightSpam.gc.ca website: “Penalties for the most serious violations of the Act can go as high as $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses.”
Not really worth the risk so I suggest using an email service and checking out the government website to answer any questions and ensure you’re complying.