How CASL Affects Your Email Marketing

by | Jun 20, 2024 | Alstra Products Blog, Canada Digital Marketing News

In this article, we explain what CASL is, how you can ensure compliance, and how it differs from U.S. laws. Similar to the American CAN-SPAM laws, CASL stands for Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation and applies to commercial messages sent to any Canadian citizen’s email address. Enacted on July 1, 2014, CASL remains in effect to this day.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is designed to protect consumers and businesses from the misuse of digital technology, including spam and other electronic threats. It also aims to help businesses stay competitive in a global digital marketplace. Learn about the legislation, how to protect yourself from spam, and how to report it when necessary.

Mailcan.App Canada Email Marketing Software

Mailcan.App Canada Email Marketing Software

About Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

1. What is CASL?

CASL is an anti-spam law that applies to all electronic messages (i.e., email, texts) sent in connection with a “commercial activity.” Its key feature requires Canadian and global organizations that send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) within, from, or to Canada to receive consent from recipients before sending messages. CASL does not apply to CEMs that are simply routed through Canada.

2. What is a “Commercial Electronic Message” (CEM)?

A CEM is any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity, such as an email containing a coupon or informing customers about a promotion or sale. However, a message that includes hyperlinks to a website or contains business-related information does not necessarily make it a CEM.

CEMs must be sent to an electronic address to be governed by CASL. Confirmations of successful unsubscribes, courtesy SMS sent to roaming customers, and the publication of blog posts on micro-blogging and social media sites are out of scope.

How CASL Differs from CAN-SPAM

In the United States, CAN-SPAM laws dictate that your commercial message must include a physical address and provide an opportunity to opt-out of receiving emails, but it does not require explicit or implied consent to send an email. In contrast, CASL typically requires explicit, documented consent before sending emails.

What Constitutes Consent?

To send a CEM, organizations need express consent from recipients, which can be given either orally or in writing. Written consent can be electronic.

Explicit consent exists when a person is clearly given an option to opt-in to receive email messages and actively provides that consent. CASL also allows for implied consent in some situations. For example, if a contact continues purchasing from your company, using your services, or subscribing to your magazine, consent to send messages can be implied. This implied consent is valid for two years after the subscription ends or services have been rendered or purchased. If explicit consent isn’t given within those two years, you must discontinue email messaging.

There are situations where neither explicit nor implied consent is required. For instance, when it’s pertinent to the contact’s business or reasonable for them to expect communication from you—such as a dentist who publishes their email on their website and expects to receive emails from dental equipment suppliers. In these cases, you may email them for up to two years. If explicit or implied consent is not obtained in that period, you must cease email communication.

Ensuring CASL Compliance

Our Anti-Spam Policy keeps Alstra Solutions Email Marketing Platform compliant with CAN-SPAM laws, but additional measures may be needed for CASL compliance. We often accept “implied consent,” such as when someone provides their email address without explicit “opt-in” language. We assume that providing their email implies consent to receive messages.

CASL often requires more stringent consent. Ultimately, your list collection practices determine CASL compliance. Alstra Solutions equips you with features like signup forms, segments, campaign templates for a welcome series, and an opt-in confirmation contact field to help you achieve and maintain compliance. It is crucial to build your list in a compliant manner from the start. Since we do not collect IP addresses, if your contact doesn’t click the opt-in confirmation link, we cannot guarantee that explicit consent will be recognized.

Segmenting Canadian Contacts in Your Audience

If you are unsure whether you have Canadian contacts in your audience, create a segment in your account to find all email addresses ending in .ca or by locating Canadian physical addresses if that information is collected. Once identified, send a subscriber re-engagement campaign to give them the option to confirm their opt-in, ensuring CASL compliance. Remember, if someone disputes the opt-in, the government may ask for the timestamp confirming the subscription.

The Bottom Line of Permission-Based Marketing

When requesting email addresses, ensure that people understand the types of emails they will receive, the frequency, and the sender’s identity. If your email collection process clearly defines these aspects and members explicitly consent to receive your emails, you should be CASL compliant. If not, CASL allows for substantial per-recipient penalties from both the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and private actions by recipients.

Mailcan.App Canada Email Marketing Software

Mailcan.App Canada Email Marketing Software


Ready to Get Started?

We help company owners in Ontario and across Canada build their businesses every day. How can we assist you in doing the same?

You can also book a 15 minutes free consultation and receive a free project starter package.

Let our expert help you and guide you through your vision.