This article is part of a special educational series published by tbk Creative that helps home renovation companies grow their revenue. This article is to be taken as educational material and not legal advice.

On March 5, 2015, the CRTC publicly announced its first fine under the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL), totalling $1.1M dollars.

Are you, like many home renovation companies, still unclear about how to have your website fully meet this legislation?

Fear no more. In this article, I will share the exact steps to take to ensure your website is CASL compliant.

Background

CASL largely pertains to ensuring you have consent from a recipient before sending them a commercial electronic message (short for CEM).

A CEM is any electronic message sent for commercial purposes. This could include emails with product offers, special promotions confirming a home estimate meeting date, and more. A CEM under CASL further doesn’t just pertain to mass emails but also 1-to-1 emails.

How CASL largely pertains to your website is wherever you have a form that a prospect or customer fills out, you have an opportunity to acquire ‘express consent’. This is a big opportunity for your business because if you gain express consent from a visitor, you may send them CEMs indefinitely unless they unsubscribe.

Example 1 of 3

The most popular section of your website that you may need to review to ensure CASL compliance is your contact us form or get a quote form.

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Here is what you must ensure is on the subpages with these forms so that you properly acquire consent:

  1. List your company name somewhere on the page.
  2. List your mailing address somewhere on the page.
  3. List either phone number, email, or web URL somewhere on the page.
  4. Have a check box that a user can check if they wish to subscribe to your commercial electronic messages (ie. an e-newsletter).
  5. Have a consent message that contains in its writing:
    1. What you’re going to do with their information,
    2. That they may unsubscribe at any time.

By having all of the above, you will properly gain consent and comply with the requirements under the Canadian Anti-Spam Law.

You can see in the screen shot below, custom kitchen and bath maker, William Standen Co. (Sarnia, Ontario), has all of these items on their website:

Image02

Here is a sample consent message you may use for your page that complies with the requirements under CASL:

By checking this box, you’re providing us consent to email you educational and product/service offers and promotions. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Example 2 of 3

The second common place on your website where you will be collecting emails will be subscription forms.

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Here are the items required on these pages to ensure you gain express consent when visitors are submitting their information to you.

  1. List your company name somewhere on the page.
  2. List your mailing address somewhere on the page.
  3. List either phone number, email, or web URL somewhere on the page.
  4. Have a consent message that contains in its writing:
    1. What you’re going to do with their information,
    2. That they may unsubscribe at any time.

In the example below, you can see that all these components are installed.

Image04

The major difference between this form and Example #1 is that when someone is subscribing to your e-newsletter, you don’t have to provide a check box to gain express consent. What regulators have said (paraphrasing), is it’s not that a check box is a requirement to gain express consent, it’s that they want to ensure visitors take an affirmative action to subscribe to a commercial e-newsletter list.

In the case of Example #1, the affirmative action is the check box because the intent of the form is to inquire about services. In the case of #2, the affirmative action is the person inserting their email addresses because the purpose of the form is to allow someone to subscribe.

Example 3 of 3

Many home renovation dealers have had success offering educational e-guides on their websites. As people download this content, it generates more consumer leads for the business.

In our last example, we’ll cover the requirements you need when setting up these landing pages so that you properly acquire express consent.

Here is what you require:

  1. List your company name somewhere on the page.
  2. List your mailing address somewhere on the page.
  3. List either phone number, email, or web URL somewhere on the page.
  4. *Have a check box that a user can check if they wish to subscribe to your commercial electronic messages (ie. an e-newsletter).
  5. Have a consent message that contains in its writing:
    1. What you’re going to do with their information,
    2. That they may unsubscribe at any time.

Image04

I put an asterisks (*) on number 4 above as there is a grey area many lawyers and marketers are unclear about when it comes to these non-product/service specific form capture pages. Many believe it’s reasonable to not require a visitor to check a box but instead subscribe everyone who fills out these forms (provided you provide a clear consent message), providing you properly communicate what you’re going to do with their information (ie. through the consent message).

As this is currently a grey area, if you choose to forgo the check box (at your own risk), here is a sample consent message you can use:

By providing your information above, you’re providing us consent to email you educational and product/service offers and promotions. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Conclusion

Now you have specific instructions for setting up your website to maximize the amount of visitors providing your company express consent under the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL).

The next areas to think about in your CASL practices are ensuring you remove people who provided implied consent at the right time and also ensuring your CEMs comply with CASL. I’m going to cover both of these topics for you in future Mike Digital™ articles.