How to be king of the CASL

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Jon MacCall

“Can I add you to my email list?” Are these words part of your client cultivation vocabulary yet? They should be.

Now that the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is law, sales reps, as users of electronic marketing tools, need to be aware of some Dos and Don’ts.

As an earlier REM article pointed out, the intent of CASL (effective July 1, 2014), is to stop hackers and spammers from preying on customers using commercial electronic messages (CEM). The difference between spammers and legitimate marketers is that the latter has received consent from individuals. In a nutshell, the CASL rules are straightforward:

* No more mass emails to strangers.

* Get consent from potential clients, either expressed or implied.

* Provide opportunity for contacts to opt-out or unsubscribe.

* Respect your contacts’ decision to opt-in or out of marketing messages.

So, if your marketing includes sending emails, faxes or private messages on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or LinkedIn, the new law requires that you only send to those who have consented.

More specifically, here’s what CASL means to sales reps:

* You cannot send electronic messages to lists (including lists you have bought!) unless you get consent from each person on that list who will receive an email (and be prepared to prove that consent was obtained if challenged).

* You can continue to use your website to generate leads and you can respond to consumer inquiries from your personal, company or franchise website.

* You cannot automatically put all website leads on an email campaign without express consent.

* You can harvest emails from other people’s personal or company websites but only if they do not have a “do not send me commercial offers” disclaimer on that site. (Be sure to document where and when you got the email, ideally saving a screen shot to prove there was no disclaimer.)

Express Consent vs. Implied Consent: When getting permission to add people to your email list, CASL makes a clear distinction between express consent and implied consent. Express consent is when a contact explicitly agrees to receive electronic marketing messages from you. “Would you like to receive messages from me?” You have express consent when they say yes. This is your best-case scenario because express consent never needs to be reconfirmed (it’s good forever). It’s a lot less complicated to manage on a go-forward basis.

It’s also on-side to send CEMs to individuals where you have implied consent. Under CASL you can claim Implied Consent from a contact if you’ve had a business dealing with them – someone who voluntarily dropped a business card at your open house, someone with whom you have transacted business, or have signed a buyer agency or listing agreement.

The key with implied consent is to keep track of the last business dealing with that contact as well as the date because this type of consent expires after two years. This means you have two years to convert your implied to express consent or to have another business dealing with that person to reset the two-year clock.

As you can see, keeping track of implied consent expiry dates can soon get tricky if you have a good-sized book to manage. Pen and paper may no longer be a viable technology for managing your book.

You can still send an email to answer a consumer inquiry, for example in response to a website lead request for information on a specific listing. What you can’t do anymore is to automatically put all website leads on an email “drip campaign” unless they provide express consent. CASL requires that your response be limited to answering the original inquiry. A long back-and-forth exchange is okay, as long as the consumer is in control of the conversation.

The bottom line: get consent and keep track. Whatever technology you decide to use for tracking leads and contacts – whether that technology is pen and paper or state-of-the-art CRM – make sure it works for your business. For every contact you have, you should also be able to prove consent to contact.

Canada‘s anti-spam legislation (CASL) is in place to protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace.

If you use electronic channels to promote or market your organization, products or services, Canada’s new anti-spam law may affect you.

It is your duty to understand and comply with the law.

Compliance Basics


  • Do you use email, SMS, social media or instant messaging to send commercial or promotional information about your organization to customers, prospects and other important audiences?


  • Do you install software programs on people’s computers or mobile devices?


  • Do you carry out these activities in or from Canada?

Copyright © REM 2014

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