Monday, June 23, 2014

Growing Your E-Mail List Under Anti-Spam Legislation

Manage E-Mail subscribers with Value
Immediate CEM compliance action may be premature as organizations seek to gain express consent  from their certified electronic mail (CEM) subscribers - to ensure they are compliant with the anti-spam, legislation which is about to come into effect in Canada (July 1, 2014). While most companies and organizations want is to abide by the legislation – trying to gain immediate express consent may be short sited. You could severely undermine your organizations ability to reach out to your customers or members before carefully considering a strategy to gain express consent.

Three Steps to Compliance

The new legislation states that there are three general requirements for sending the CEM to an electronic address. You need (1) consent, (2) identification information and (3) an unsubscribe mechanism. Let’s address items two and three, first.  Most CEM tools such as I contact, Constant Contact or even a custom solution already include this functionality within their protocols and even demand them when deploying your e-mail messages. Organizations that create and deploy such tools sets will undergo careful scrutiny long before individual organizations, so they will be sure to bring their tool sets into compliance since this will affect their business model. 

Conduct an Audit

If you conduct an audit of your existing systems and process, most organizations will have this already in place. If you do not, than I certainly recommend you research and upgrade to a modern tool set that allows this as a simple automated function.  The first two issues are fairly straight forward and are tactical in nature and do not require you to communicate with your customer base however the third component of the legislation requires you to have one of two types of consent to communicate with subscribers, either implied or expressed consent.  Like all legislation there is a period of voluntary compliance. The period in the case of CASL is three years – so – you must be fully compliant by July 1, 2017 which suggests that you have a three year window to convert implied relationships into express consent relationships.    

Expess Consent

The express consent relationship is very straight forward. Express consent can be obtained either in writing or orally. In either case, the onus is on the person who is sending the message to prove they have obtained consent to send electronic messages by tracking, whether consent was obtained in writing or orally, when it was obtained, why it was obtained, and the manner in which it was obtained.

Implied Consent

Implied consent is a little broader in its interpretation and has a number or provisions that allow you to continue to communicate with your audience. For example, there is an exception to the consent requirement for commercial electronic messages (CEMs) sent following a referral, if certain conditions are met. The referral must be made by an individual who has an existing business relationship, an existing non-business relationship, a family relationship or a personal relationship with the sender and the recipient of the CEM. Also, the full name of the individual who made the referral and a statement that the CEM is sent as a result of a referral must be in the CEM.

Also, consent may be implied where CEMs are sent to members of an association, club or voluntary organization such as a non-profit organization, organized and operated exclusively for social welfare, civic improvement, pleasure or recreation or for any purpose other than personal profit, and no part of its income is payable for the personal benefit of any member, proprietor or shareholder unless that entity is an organization whose primary purpose is the promotion of amateur athletics in Canada. 

The CEM must still respect the other two requirements – it must contain the identification information and offer an unsubscribe mechanism.

If you are in the process of seeking express permissions, it is important to take the time to develop an incentive based approach to CEMs. Each organization needs to create a value proposition that will engage its existing CEM audience and define the value of the relationship. When you ask that all important question “Do you wish to continue receiving our e-mails?” you will experience a significant “decline rate” so you will want to provide some incentive for your audience to understand and benefit and value in your relationship. 

Creating a Value Proposition

Periodic incentive coupons ( 20 – 50% off) redeemable at physical or electronic locations, (depending on your business model, free delivery , special draws for enhanced service or promotional products, special events, access to unique services (unavailable to regular customers) are just few simple examples of how you can encourage your “Implied Consent”  audience to choose to become your “Express Consent” audience.

We work a number of organizations to design and implement such strategies – contact us if you want to grow your CEM list rather than shrink it.  

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