canada-anti-spam-lawOver the last few weeks Robin and I have been hard at work on our new upcoming webinar training “List Building Machine” and during this time we’ve received several questions about the new Canada Ant-Spam law set to take effect on July 1st.

Considering that we believe list building to be one of the most important things for your online business we wanted to give you guys the low down on this new law and how it will affect your business.

Before we go into the deets here let me just share up front that, “NO this law does NOT mean that list building in Canada or for Canadian businesses is a thing of the past” …

Actually, the heart of the law is simply to enforce good email marketing practices and permission based marketing (which we firmly believe in and teach). I just recently wrote about the “Top 3 List Building No-Nos” and these really stand at the heart of what NOT to do.

So you’re probably wondering, “What does this mean for me and my business?” I’m going to break down exactly what you need to know to stay in compliance and continue building a thriving community of happy subscribers.

Must Obtain Permission – No Sneaky ‘Hidden’ Notifications

The first and most important element of the Canada Anti-Spam Law (or CASL for short) is that the business or website absolutely MUST obtain permission to communicate or send “CEMs” (commercial electronic messages)*. This permission must be obtained knowingly by the subscriber such as with a check box or manually entering their email address. 

(And no, you can’t have the check box automatically checked, defaulting it to checked, hoping they don’t pay attention to it, either.  This is called ‘opt-out’ and the action the person has to take is to say NO… but the person must take the action to say YES.) 

Along with this, a website can no longer simply state on their policies and terms that they are gathering info or that by simply interacting with said website grants the business permission to send “CEMs”.  There will be no more ‘hidden’ notifications around your website ‘assuming’ that people knew what they were getting into.

So at the heart of it, this element simply means that you must be up front and honest.  There’s a novel idea, right?  I’m all on board with this.  Get expressed permission from the visitor to send emails or “CEMs”… be honest, PROVIDE VALUE… and let people CHOOSE to opt-in because you’re THAT dang good 😉

Unsubscribing Should Be Easy

The next element of the new law that you need to know about is that once you’ve received permission from the person, every email or SMS message sent must contain an unsubscribe link or button*.  And yes, this must actually work 🙂 I get tons of emails that have the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom that either doesn’t work or it makes me jump through hoops to actually unsubscribe (or even worse, redirects me to some nasty site, or tricks me into unknowingly signing up for some other lists as I think I’m unsubscribing).

So again, I’m right on board with this, I’m loving every bit of it.  If you’re providing value, and serving your email community, there’s absolutely ZERO reason to ‘trick’ people or make it hard for them to leave if they want to. 

If you want to comply, you’ve got to give folks an easy out. Don’t make it hard to unsubscribe. Because really, you only want people on your list that actually want to be there and want to hear from you anyways, right?

The Biggest Difference Between CASL and the U.S. CAN-Spam Act (express consent)

This one’s interesting.  This means there can no longer be what’s been referred to as ‘implied consent’.  Implied consent in the U.S. law means that you can send emails to folks who are past clients, folks you have a previous business relationship with, etc. These folks are A-okay to plop onto your email list… they bought something from you… so you should be able to email them regularly, right? 

Well, not so in Canada anymore.  People have to have explicitly opted in to your mailing list.  This means that even if you meet some new people at a networking event (business relationship)… you CANNOT email them to ‘follow up’ and ask them to download your freebie and opt-in. 

In my opinion, this makes having a solid List Building Strategy even more important…

This means you can no longer rely on people in your existing circles to start building a list.  You can no longer rely on networking events.  You need to know exactly how to find the people out there who really need what you have to offer (and yes, craploads of them exist).  So you need to know where to find them, and how to get them WANTING to opt-in to your list.  All of this is stuff we’re teaching on our upcoming webinar “List Building Machine” – click here to register free

What if you’re not in Canada? Does this apply to you?

Yes, it does. This law stretches to any person or business in or outside of Canada sending to or from Canada. So if you’re in the US but have clients or prospects in Canada then this definitely applies to you.


The last thing to note here is that you don’t have to worry about your existing base of subscribers and customers that opted-in or gave permission before July 1, 2014 you can still communicate with them and they will NOT have to re-opt in as long as permission was given prior to July 1, 2014 (keep in mind that you need to be able to provide ‘real proof’ of the express consent though).

So there you have it. See it wasn’t that bad after all was it? I’ve been hearing a lot of ‘freaking out’ going around and people concerned that list building in Canada was coming to a screeching halt and as you can see if you’re doing it right, respecting people’s decisions and giving them a clear choice then you’re in the clear.

Remember it’s not the quantity of your list but it’s the quality that matters. So if you’re wondering how to grow your list (the right way), build a thriving community of raving fans and reach more people with your message (who actually WANT to hear it) then you’ll definitely want to check out our upcoming webinar training “List Building Machine”. << Click here to reserve your spot FREE >>

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