Bill C-27 is in part the Canadian government’s attempt to regulate eMail marketing and reduce spam abuse. The bill is winding its way through the commons right now and the Conservatives want to have it passed into law by the end of the year. If you currently use eMail or plan to use it for marketing, you’d better get dialled in now and make sure all your digital ducks are in a row.
We here at the eMail Guide, in our never ending quest to be your one stop shop for eMail marketing information, have compiled what we think are the top five issues you need to be aware of regarding C-27:
1 – Who you can eMail
Under C-27 you must have expressed or implied consent to eMail someone. Expressed consent is clear enough but, implied consent is where things might get subjective. Implied consent is when there is an existing business or non-business relationship. A business relationship exists when someone has purchased from you or entered into some kind of contract with your company in the past. A non-business relationship applies when someone volunteers, donates or joins an organization.
2 – Grandfather clause
This applies to issue number 1. At this time it appears the law will allow you to eMail any client who has had an active business relationship with you but, has not given you explicit consent to eMail them (implied consent), as long as you eMail them within the grace period which starts immediately from that last business interaction. This grace period has been increased to two years. Use this grace period to get people to give you that explicit consent.
Do you have a point of contact such as a Privacy Officer deal with anyone who might have issues because they believe your eMail is unsolicited? Implicit relationship or not, you will run into this and 2 minutes to personally respond to an eMail or a 5 minute phone call to address a client or prospect’s concerns will save you a lot of grief and lost opportunities.
3 – 10 days allowed to remove someone from a list
As the bill stands, you’ll be allowed 10 business days to remove someone who has requested to be taken off a list. This is a critical consideration especially during the grandfather period because your definition of an active business relationship and someone else’s might differ quite a bit. A client may not remember to send you a thank you card just for taking them off your list but, they will remember to raise hell if you don’t.
4 – What needs to be in every eMail
The eMail must include the name of the person sending the eMail or the name of the person on whose behalf the eMail is being sent. You are also required to include your company’s name and your contact information. It’s always a good idea to have a point of contact eMail which is monitored daily and provides a fast response to questions or concerns.
Most importantly the eMail must have links and a valid mechanism for people to opt-out (unsubscribe) from the list. The best strategy here is to employ both a link to an unsubscribe eMail address and a web page. The latter is the more robust approach because it can ensure the person is unsubscribing the correct address and perhaps even ask them why they are unsubscribing, giving you some feedback for improving your campaigns.
5 – What a violation can cost you
The maximum penalty for an individual is $1 million and up to $10 million for a company. An individual or the federal government can bring a case against a violator. However, the PR damage might amount to a lot more if for some unfortunate reason you or your company were to be among the first singled out as being in violation of the law.
If you have comments or questions about C-27 please post them! The eMail Guide community and staff will do their best to find the answers for you.