[Webinar] How to Prepare for the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

Webinar Overview

This webinar provides an overview of the new Canadian Anti-Spam Law legislation, effective July 1, 2014. Nima Jazbi, the Director of Customer Service, will cover what you need to know about the CASL, and how PerfectMIND has taken precautions to keep you protected.

Video Transcript

Awesome! It seems like everyone can hear me so we'll start the Webinar. In today's Webinar we want to speak about the CASL Legislation in Canada and how you as a business owner would need to prepare for it, and what is CASL Legislation and so on and so forth. By the end of this Webinar you should be very informed on basically how this will affect you and how you need to prepare for it.

The first thing is, 'What is CASL?' CASL is an essentially regulatory framework for permission-based marketing including... So legislation has been put in place to regulate the type of communication that's made to your contacts from your leads, your former students, and your existing active students. And it's any communication under the category of email, mobile and text messages, and social media, or any other digital means of communication. So if any other communication that you can think of that is visually, it will fall under this legislation. The entire thing is all about consent. And, what is consent? Consent is permission from a contact that business may send them certain communication. So you must have approval from the contacts, from your leads, students, or former students that you are able to communicate with them and you are actually able to send them information.

There are two types of consents. This is categorized under this legislation. The first type is an Express Consent. This is the best consent that you can actually have. And I'll tell you why in a few moments. What is an Express consent? It is a clear permission obtaining electronically, orally or in writing, that contact may have asked to receive emails. So just to go over that again, it's a clear permission that your contact is providing you to obtain - and it could be obtained electronically, so it could be through forms or email. It could be orally - so in a verbal conversation over the phone or in person you are able to actually get that agreement. Or in writing - So it could be a form that they can manually fill out and actually provide you that consent. And the consent, and we're going to get into how consent should be gathered, because there are also rules and regulations on what should be included when you are getting the consent.

The second type of consent is Implied Consent. This is consent that is inferred based on actions such as having an existing business relationship. So what the legislation has put together is some set of rules that will allow you to communicate to a contact depending on the type of relationship that you have. And we'll go over that in detail in a few moments. So, how do I get Express Consent? As I said, this is my personally recommended type of consent, and how you get it is, you have to clearly indicate that you're asking permission to send them electronic messages. So, it doesn't matter if it's verbal written or digitally. Whatever means or method that you're using to be able to actually get that consent, you need to specifically mention that you are asking permission to send electronic messages. The second thing, when you are getting the consent, you need to clearly indicate what organization is requesting permission. So this would be your organization name, your logo perhaps. Specifically the business name is a required piece of information here.

So if you have a piece of document that you're asking your students to sign or your members to sign, you just need to make sure that the business name is on top of it. The next thing: on any piece document that is asking consent from people, you need to be able to tell people what type of information they will be receiving from that point onwards. So if it's a marketing piece of information, it needs to mention that, if it's updates about your business, it needs to mention that. It needs to clearly indicate what type of material they will be receiving, is it through/via email, text messaging and so on and so forth. The other piece of information you must have is information on that document explaining that the contact at any time can unsubscribe.


This would record at any time moving forward after providing the consent, you'll be able to unsubscribe either by contacting us or by clicking on the button on the emails. Next thing is, on that document you must include a mailing address and one of the following information: it could be an email address, a website address, or phone number. This is also a requirement that the CASL legislation has put in place. Now why I like Express Consent is because when an Express Consent is provided to a business, that's good forever. There is no expiry date on it. You are able to contact that customer for the rest of their lifetime unless they specifically tell you that they don't want to receive communication from you anymore or they unsubscribe from your email. I personally believe although it's a little bit more work and you'll be able to understand why compared to Implied Consent. But it's actually worth it, because upon getting that consent then you're good forever. You'll be able to communicate with that individual for as long as you want, unless they ask you not to be contacted. So this is all the information in regards to what is an Express Consent.

Now we also have the Implied Consent. And what is the Implied Consent? It's a consent that's based on a set of rules such as having an existing business relationship with someone, meaning that they made a purchase or donation or something like that. There are different types of categories of situations that fall under implied consent. One example could be, in a seminar or conference, if you're exchanging business cards with someone, you're able to contact that person unless there's specifically on their business card a piece of information that has their email address and mentions that you are not able to contact them and send an email. So that is something that is acceptable by the CASL Legislation. The timeline for something like that if you receive someone's email address, it would two years that you can continue communication with them. The other method is if the recipient's email address has been published somewhere, they're on a piece of paper, on their website or any type of documentation. And it doesn't specifically talk about not having permission to send them emails. Another example is a customer that just recently made a purchase or made a donation towards your business. That's also a category that, under CASL Legislation, it allows you to communicate to those types of people. Next thing is anyone that's under any type of agreement with you. So if you guys have a student or member agreement with your members, technically as long as you are actually in the agreement you are able to actually communicate with them. Upon expiry of the agreement, you have also two years opted from that point onwards to still communicate to your 'former customers'.

The only challenge with this is... the Implied Consent is great because that means that you can still communicate to your students without any issues, however the biggest issue is that there is a timeline. There is a clock that will end after the two year mark, so you must renew that relationship one way or another, or get Express Consent from the contact. So the question that everyone asks and most people are actually very nervous about right now is, 'What's going to happen with my existing contacts?' Well simply, it's best for you to get express consent from everyone. Now as I mentioned earlier, if there are still active clients with you or they recently ended their relationship with you, you still have some time to be able to contact them. But it's best for you to start to actually try getting the Express Consent from them now. One thing is right now most customers in Canada are very aware of the situation as most of the businesses are contacting them one way or another to be able to get the consent.


So it's a perfect timing right now to be able to actually go after that. Now, you can get the Express consent through any of the methods that we previously spoke about: digitally, for example using an email or an online form, you can get it through a phone or written document that they can sign. And all of these are methods by which you can contact them - Having said that, again, you have Implied Consent to be able to contact your existing customers who are in contract with you. In addition any customer that has recently left you, you have up to two years to be able to contact them. One thing that is going to potentially help you in improving your rate and getting consent is maybe offering something in return. If you send email to everyone it's not likely that you're going to get a response from every single contact that you have. However, offering some giveaways such as discounts to your Pro-Shop items or to your store, coupons that they can use on certain products or maybe even a download of an eBook if you are able to put that together, these are all great methods to be able to create more incentive for people to consent or provide that consent to you.

One thing that is kind of good for us to know is there is part of the legislation that allows us to have a grace period up until July 1st of 2017. Now what this means… This is very important and you shouldn't rely on this but what the government is saying is 'up to July 1st of 2017 is for your existing customers that you have to date… not the new ones that you're going to gain after July 1st of this year, but the existing customers that are in your database to date'. If for some reason you contacted them incorrectly but you show a history that you are trying your best to be able to follow their rules and regulation, there is a grace period. They won't go after you per se -having said that, you shouldn't rely on this. They put this in place as - I believe the government understands that it is going to take some time for everyone to follow this legislation fully.

And also, up until July 1st of 2017 individuals are not able to sue the business. They're not able to actually file a class action lawsuit against the business for getting these types of communication. As of July 1st 2017, each individual, each customer or lead that you have can actually sue the business. So that's why it becomes very important that after that point everything must be perfect. You are not able to contact anyone that you don't have consent to anymore. Prior to that, the government is the only body and entity that can actually fine a business. So they are providing a grace period. It's not fully documented of who they will consider as someone that could apply for grace period, or could get their fines waived off. The only stuff that I read about it was as long as you are showing that you are doing your best and you are doing the necessary steps to be able to follow this legislation, they'll be okay. They won't push you too hard.

Again, to kind of go over this, what are the different methods for you to get Express Consent? As I mentioned, Express Consent is the best method to actually go around. It's much better than Implied Consent since there is no deadline on it or expiry date on your permission. One way is to do it orally - contacting your contact list and getting that information from people and getting the consent from people. That's going to be very handy and very easy for your existing contacts or students. You'll be able to do that, no problem, depending obviously on the size of your list. The other method is getting a written consent. You can actually create the sign-up sheet maybe in excel sheet with the multiple columns, have all the information that I've previously mentioned such as your business name, ability for them to unsubscribe your address and your phone number or email address. All that information in the sign-up sheet and have your students or members as they walk in sign off on those sheets. Next thing is electronically - the ability to send them an email and ask them to provide consent to you, or through any other methods such as lead-capture forms.


One thing is when you're getting the information digitally there is an issue of how that information has been gathered. How digitally the information is captioned - I.P. addresses also should be recorded so there is a proof of the person actually providing consent. Now when you are using any of the offline methods; meaning orally or written you have to keep track of the location and the process that you follow so it can be presented as proof for the future. So after 2017, if someone comes and wants to see the business you have all the documentation in hand saying that on this date, in this location we followed this process to be able to get your consent and you signed that sheet. If you don't have this it might become problematic for you in the future so be very careful if you are getting offline consent, make sure that you actually track all this information.

As I mentioned, when you are getting offline consent you must actually have certain piece of information. Just the same contact info like the like the address and phone number or email address in addition to basic eligibility for them to subscribe and what they are consenting to. So what type or information will they be receiving moving forward?

So there are a few questions you can ask to know when the CASL legislation applies. I've put together a very simple flow chart. As long as you follow this and as long as you get yes on… answer yes to all these boxes that means you have to follow the CASL legislation. If any of the answers here is no, that means that you don't really fall under this legislation and you can communicate using similar rules and regulation that was applied to you in the past. So the first question to always ask is; 'Is this message electronic? Was this message sent by text, voice broadcast or any type of voice mechanism, video imagery? These are the methods that are considered as "electronic" messages. So as long as your message doesn't fall within these categories you are good. You can communicate under the same rules and regulations as before. If it falls under any of these categories you are right now considered as… you need to follow the CASL legislation.

The next question is; do you or the recipient have a personal or family relationship with you. If you are emailing your brother, your dad, your cousin: no problem. You don't need their consent. If you know them and you have some sort of personal relationship, this could even be a business relationship, you should be good. If you met the person at the convention and shook their hand and got to know them, that's a personal relationship. So it doesn't fall under the CASL legislation.

The next question to ask is; is this message sent from or received by a computer system in Canada? So if you are contacting your customers or you are located in Canada and contacting customers in USA - that will still be subject to the CASL legislation. Or vice-versa, if you are contacting someone in Canada that legislation still applies to you.

The next thing is, is this communication considered as commercial activity? And this also… commercial activity they have a definition for non-profit as well. So non-profit also falls under this commercial activity category. So if you are sending any type of marketing information that is considered as commercial activity.

So as long as the answer to these questions is yes, you must follow the rules and regulations. There is really no ifs and buts about it. The tough question is always 'What happens if I don't comply?' A lot of people that I have asked say this is not going to hurt my business. They are not going to come after, you know, just my shop. My school is much smaller or my studio is much smaller for government to come after it. Honestly, none of us here are other than government entities are able to fully answer this question and tell you whether you are safe or not. This is like filing taxes and getting audited. It could happen to anyone; technically based on the rolls. However this does not mean that you should stop marketing.


These rules and regulation had been put in place to stop marketers but for a regular business just sending marketing information that's fine. You just need to do your best to comply with the rules and regulations. But if for whatever reason you do not follow the rules and regulation and the government decides that they want to go after your business, there are very stiff penalties introduced. For Sole proprietors, there are up to one million dollars in fines. And for corporation: up to ten million dollars in fines. So obviously, these numbers are very big numbers so the fines are very extensive.

After 2017, in addition to these fines which the government can actually fine you, there are also personal lawsuits that each individual can file against your businesses as well. So that will also be added on top of this. So it's very stiff, so do your best to comply with the rules and regulations. I cannot again answer the question if the government will go after small businesses or not but the rules and regulations are there and should be followed to avoid any risks.

There are a couple of dates that you really need to save and you really need to know… these dates are, one, July 1st 2014, so just in a few days and this is when the CASL legislation will fully go into effect. It will start collecting and tracking subscriptions from all your new contacts. So moving forward, if you get a new student or a new lead you must have consent to be able to actually communicate with them. To express consent you need permission from them, or obviously, depending on the type of relationship you might have implied consent for a set period of time. And you need to have a good plan of how you are going to clean up your existing contact list to make sure that you don't communicate with people that you don't have consent and don't plan to get consent from your existing contacts list. And as I mentioned July 1 2017, that's when the grace period for CASL compliance expires. So after that its open water for any parties who actually sue a specific business due to being a recipient of marketing information without having consented.

These are very, very important dates. Make sure you remember them. Especially July 1st 2017. If there is anyone in the webinar right now that understands or knows about CAN-SPAM. This is the spam regulations in United States and kind of wondering what the difference between CASL and CAN-SPAM is. I've actually put together a chart to fully explain the differences. With CASL legislation that applies to all digital communication. So it doesn't matter what type of information you are sending. As long as it's digital information, which again, falls into the category of text messages, voice broadcast or voice overall, email or social. Any type of electronic messages falls under this category. For CAN-SPAM, it applies to only emails that have a primary purpose of commercial. So it's very different actually. CASL is much stricter compared to CAN-SPAM. The other very important difference is that follows an opt-in only process. Meaning that, the individual has to opt in to receive information from you. But CAN-SPAM regulation has an opt-out as an acceptable method. Meaning that you can start emailing people and as soon as they opt-out you shouldn't email them anymore.

So CAN-SPAM is much easier to follow in PerfectMIND and all of our communication currently follows the opt-out in CAN-SPAM legislation. The fines are obviously very different. As you see it's reaching one to ten million dollars in fines for CASL versus sixteen thousand dollars per violation for CAN-SPAM. The CASL fines, again, is per violation. So it could add up to a much more significant number.


The one thing that they have in common is that both methods must have an unsubscribe mechanism. So there must be a method for people to say I don't want to get communication from you anymore. So the biggest question of all. How does PerfectMIND help with this? We are going to be rolling out a different plan and following different things to help you with what is going on with the CASL legislation. The first thing we are going to do is we are going to acquire express consent or we are going to attempt to acquire express consent from your existing contacts. What we will be doing is; we will be sending an email on your behalf on the following dates. We are going to try three different attempts as we know you are not going to get people to provide express consent on the first attempt. Also, as of today, the emails have been going out to all your contacts with your business information and all the information that you require. The email will be a very generic email saying that we do require your permission to communicate with you further and has all the necessary information required for your business, there is a button that I can send. And by them clicking on that button, the system will record that email as being in the safe list and will be able to contact moving forward. We are going to send an email today, 27th and on the 30th.

These are the three attempts that we are going to make on your behalf to be able to get the expressed consent from your existing contact list. The other thing we are going to do is, we are going to create an automated email in everyone's system that's going to automatically send an email out to receive expressed consent from any new contact that you put into the system. So it works like an automated email and will have similar type of material as was provided in my original point; my email that's currently going out. And those emails, you probably see stuff coming out from Championsway and PerfectMIND in the past couple of days. It looks exactly like that, minus the logos obviously. And will have your business information instead.

The next thing that we are going to do: In our email system, we are going to make it in a way that in the background of the email system, if you send an email to all your contacts the system is going to check which ones you have consent from and which ones you don't are not going to receive the emails. So you will receive and… if you review your email reports you might see a lot more or less deliveries because we want to protect you. So if you do send an email to everyone and half of them don't have consent, we are not going to send the emails to that half. So, only 50% of people are going to get the email.

Some other features that will be coming soon are going to be provided in a report in the PerfectMIND system that you are going to be able to see what emails have made the consent, what type of consent you have from them. Is it implied or is it expressed and in a relation to that you'll see the IP address all the information that you legally require just in case that becomes a legal matter. And one thing you can do with that information is; if you see email addresses that are not part of that list that you do record to get consent from, you'll be able to utilize other methods which is contacting them through phone or getting a written consent from those people. And manually add then to the list.

The last method is an email template. We are going to create an email template and have it saved in the template section of the emails and this template can be used by you manually to send out the consent to an individual. So maybe you speak to a student and they say they didn't get that email or maybe deleted it accidentally thinking it was spam, maybe. So what you are able to do is send that email one more time to that student and have them provide the consent right there. One thing I suggest, I think I would be easiest for your existing students and customers. Through their checking app, you are able to actually send an email to all the attendees of a certain event. So if you are instructing a class or an event, during the class or event you can actually explain this CASL legislation and the fact that you do require permission from your students. Send an email to all the attendees right at that moment and tell them that when they get access to their emails if they can provide consent. This way you can significantly improve your consent rate.


This is very tough legislation that has been put in place. There are pros and cons obviously on it. The interesting thing to know is that Canada is not actually on the top ten lists of Spam countries in the world. So we already have very tough regulations behind that and the companies have been respecting people's email addresses and privacy to this point. The positive side of this is when you start to actually get used to it and go through the process of actually getting the consent that means each recipient that has received your email is going to get less junk in their inbox. Meaning that; more attention is going to go towards the emails that you sent out. We all open our email everyday and we have to delete tons of emails. Marketing emails from companies that we don't even know how they got our email accounts. When this get's kicked in, over time we get less and less emails and more important, relevant emails in our inbox, our attention will go towards these emails and reading them and fully understanding them. So your message to the ones that will receive it will become a lot louder.

Perhaps this something that will be adopted by different countries as well, but right now it's only something that stands in Canada. The attempts that I showed here in PerfectMIND again, these are the things that we are going to do to be able to help out with the current situation. However, we recommend that you also utilize your own methods to be able to receive these expressed consents. Try to spend your time to get the expressed consent rather than relying on implied consent. Again it's going to benefit you longer. However, don't only rely on the information you see presented to you about how PerfectMIND is going to try to help. As I mentioned, have signup sheets at the business. Have people sign it up. Update your agreement templates. If you are using a custom document for your agreements or for your leads of brand new students who walk in, make sure there is consent section on that so as you are getting consent from them or having them provide you with…take responsibility for their own health, make sure that they also provide the consent so it doesn't cause you any issues moving forward. And moving forward we are going to introduce technology that's going to help you with this process.

One thing is, PerfectMIND is only the emailing tool. The responsibilities of breaking and not following this legislation, falls on the business itself. Not on the tool that is used. So do make sure again that you follow the policies. This is with any other tool that you see out there as well. The responsibility is on the person who utilizes that tool. It could be your Gmail account, it could be outlook, it could be PerfectMIND, just send out the information. So make sure you actually follow the rules and legislation to the best of your ability.

That's all I have today for you guys. Thank you for attending the webinar. We are just going to go into some questions. I do see a couple have come up.