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King of the CASL

New legislation enacted by the Canadian government this year has been causing a shakeup in the freelance artist community. The Canadian Anti Spam Legislation (dubbed “CASL”) takes effect July 1st of this year. Among other provisions, the new law now requires that the sender of an electronic message (email, SMS, or other digital delivery method) gain the consent of the recipient prior to sending the message. Although designed to deter the mindless spammers selling tooth whitening solutions and those “magic” pills, the new law has unintended consequences for artists looking to promote their work.

Any good marketing plan should contain some elements of email promotion. While the efficacy of direct mail promos, social media, and phone marketing has been on the rise, email is still one of the best and most cost-effective ways to get your work in front of buyers. That said, CASL presents a bit of a curveball to those choosing to market to Canadian prospects. The potential fines for violating the law are significant, so if you are continuing to send email promotions to Canadian prospects, it’s critical that you have a strong understanding of the legislation before you do so.

Here are a few links to important information regarding the law:

What are the forms of consent?

As with any broad legislation, there are exceptions to the rule. Below are a few tips for continuing to promote your work in Canada, but again it’s vital that you understand the law yourself before clicking that ‘send’ button.

Implied consent – If you have a pre-existing relationship with a client (i.e. you’ve done work for them before), then it is okay to continue to market yourself to them. Here’s the rub – if you had a professional relationship with the contact prior to July 1st of this year, you have their implied consent to market to them for three more years. If your professional relationship began after July 1st of this year, the implied consent expires after two years.

Express Consent – A buyer can grant “express consent” to receive promos from you if they fill out a form specifically indicating so. This can be a contact form on your website, or a form you send them to fill out prior to July 1. Once the form is filled, you can promote to the buyer for six months. This six month marketing period is renewed each time they fill out one of your forms. It should also be mentioned that forms which clearly have an opt-in checkbox and the proper opt-in language (see below) grant permanent consent until the buyer chooses to unsubscribe from your promos.

How do I gain express consent?

It would be in your best interest to use these next few weeks before the law takes effect to build up your network of “opted-in” Canadian contacts. You can use free tools such as Google Forms or Wufoo to have the contact fill out a form (either directly from your website or linked from an email promo). This way, you have a record of the exact date and time that consent was given. If you’re using the Agency Access Emailer software, we are adding in “opt in date” and “opt in expiry” fields for your personal contacts so that the information is readily at hand.

When requesting consent from a Canadian prospect, you need to use very clear, specific language. Here is a template we came up with that you can use to request consent, feel free to tweak it to make it relevant to your own company:

[Name of company] is [description of company]. I am seeking your express consent to receive electronic communications from [name of company] in order to provide you with access to our content. Click here [hyperlink] to confirm your information and your permission to receive these messages. You can adjust your preferences and opt out at any time.

[Company], [Address], [E-mail], [Website address]

Although we are providing this template for informational purposes, we must stress that it is still best to consult with an attorney about the best way to proceed with your marketing in Canada. An attorney versed in the details of the new legislation will ensure that your opt-in language and your marketing methods follow the letter of the law and indemnify you against any possible legal action.

Looking Towards the Future

In our experience, most buyers are still very receptive to receiving electronic promos from artists, and many even rely on them to do their jobs effectively. There is no need to abandon Canadian prospects, as there are a large number who still want to see your work. Having a full understanding of the tenets of CASL gives you an incredible advantage over your competitors who may choose not to investigate the details of the law and rather stop their Canadian marketing altogether.

Knowledge is your best ally in the continual battle that is marketing, so best of luck to you, warrior!

Links of Interest:

Nick Moy

Born and raised on Long Island, New York, Nick is a 2009 graduate of Tufts University. He is currently a Marketing Coordinator for Agency Access. When he's not in the office, Nick enjoys cooking and playing in his band Three Chord Me.

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