American marketers may think they have it tough with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.
But maybe they should look to their northern neighbors.
On July 1, Canada's own anti-spam act became law. Canada's anti-spam legislation (CASL) puts marketing credibility to the test with a focus on opt-in for those receiving electronic marketing messages -- versus the "unsubscribe," opt-out nature of its American counterpart.
Sending out a commercial electronic message to a Canadian audience or from a Canadian entity? Then you must comply with three requirements: obtain consent, provide identification information and provide an unsubscribe mechanism.
It's like America's law on steroids.
Opt-In vs. Opt-Out
"The most important takeaway is that CASL is an opt-in law, requiring proof of opt-in," said Robert Consoli, director of deliverability & provisioning at email marketing provider Silverpop. "In contrast, CAN-SPAM is opt-out focused, mainly requiring the ability to opt-out anyone who chooses to no longer receive your emails."
Is opt-in becoming more common anyway? Consoli says so.
"While the law requires proof of opt-in only for recipients residing in Canada, most of the world has begun moving to an opt-in versus opt-out law," he told CMSWire. "Silverpop’s recommendation would be to adhere to the most restrictive law to avoid any chance of non-compliance."
Courtesy of Silverpop.
Ian Michiels, principal and managing director for Gleanster Research, doesn't see spam laws in general as a problem for marketers who keep things clean.
"As spam laws continue to evolve and become more restrictive," Michiels told CMSWire, "they are really only a problem for the companies that abuse email marketing practices. When we look at our survey data about 89 percent of brands still send email communications to non opt-in recipients. Top performers, however, use segmentation and targeting practices to maximize the relevance of those communications. It's spam, and it's intrusive if the communication isn't relevant for the recipient."
That said, Michiels acknowledged Canada's law regarding spam is "very different" from America's because of the Canadian opt-in provision. Canada is giving those needing to comply a three-year transition period.
"I think ultimately this will lead to very engaged and loyal Canadian customers," Michiels said. "It may also lead to a shift in opt-in practices to encourage or even reward customers for opting-in."
Lessons from Down Under
Guess who also has tough anti-spam legislation? Australia.