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CASL has hurt my association’s email marketing efforts, now what?

The new Canada anti-spam law, or CASL, has left many associations feeling the pinch of its effects as revenue-generating activities sent out by email are no longer permitted by law. Considering that CASL outlines restrictions and penalties related to sending unsolicited emails of up to $10 million per organization per violation, this is not an issue that should be taken lightly by associations.

How CASL is hurting associations’ email marketing efforts

What makes the CASL so tough on associations is that, for many of them, email marketing was their main method of communication. According to the 2014 Pulse Report produced by Greenfield Services, email marketing and direct mail accounted for 81.8% of the channels use for membership renewal messages from Canadian associations.

CASL: Implied vs express consent

Unfortunately once the CASL came into effect in July 2014, some associations were left with less than 10% of their original email lists. And given that all businesses and associations must have the express consent of everyone they email by July 1, 2017, regardless of business relationship, associations may want consider stepping up their efforts in this respect. This means that if you have implied consent due to membership, you still need to get members’ express consent (where they must tick a box that contains a message like “I agree to receive email from ‘Association’”).

Even for associations that were compliant, and took all the necessary measures by sending a dedicated email to their Canadian contacts asking them to confirm their opt-in status by clicking a link within an email template ended up with a much lower response than they had anticipated. And because so many associations waited until close to the deadline to distribute the communication, they are left with a small list of people whereas they once had thousands.

It’s not all bad news, though. Under CASL, implied consent is valid for as long as each person remains a member of your association. If a current member decides to leave your association but still wants to continue to receive updates, you will have two years from the date they leave to get their express consent.

So how can you get your member base email numbers back to where they were originally?

At the TECNA Summer Conference in Montreal, Amanda Shook Hendley mentioned the idea of a phonathon, which I thought was a great idea. It will be time consuming, no doubt, but calling up the members who didn’t respond to your email to ask for express consent is a great opportunity for your association to touch base with its members.

For more ways on how to reach your members, read The Canada anti-spam law and marketing: now how do I reach my audience?

If you need any help with member outreach, contact me or Rachel for a free one-on-one assessment at sensov/ event marketing.

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