Are you promoting your real estate business with email marketing? As of July 1, 2017 there have been some very positive changes with CASL (the Canadian Anti-Spam Law) for commercial realtors. The positive changes concern CASL’s Implied Consent provision and mean great news for any agents doing Business To Business (B2B) email marketing.
Included in the updated CASL Implied Consent provision are new rules concerning Conspicuously Published Emails. Per CASL, you can still legally do unsolicited email marketing to anyone who has publicly published their email address online, provided all of the following 3 conditions are met. Those 3 conditions are:
- Publicly Displayed Email
- No Non-Solicitation Statement
- Role Related Messages
Let’s examine each of these 3 conditions:
- Publicly Displayed Email
Under CASL you can actually still legally send targeted, unsolicited emails to email addresses published on publicly accessible web pages. These pages can be any type of public web page including staff directories on business websites, association directories, blogs, forums, and so on.
The key requirement is people must have willingly consented to having their email address published on a web page for you to email solicit them. That consent isn’t necessarily given with private, paid access business directories. Such directories from business associations often have the emails of all members published internally. Other members can login and see a directory of all members including their email addresses which the public can’t see. Therefore, privately displayed emails are excluded from CASL’s Implied Consent rule and cannot be emailed without Explicit Consent (IE Opt-In).
- No Non-Solicitation Disclaimer Statement
You can’t send any unsolicited emails to a publicly displayed email address if the page you found the email address at has a disclaimer stating the person doesn’t want commercial solicitations.
This disclaimer is commonly found in online classifieds ads. For instance, the vast majority of classified ad pages on Craig’s List have this statement: “do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers”. This statement is by default selected when classified ads get created and very few people deselect it.
In some cases publicly accessible business directories have this disclaimer. When you visit the RECO website, you can do searches for Real Estate Professionals even as a non-member. However, you must first hit RECO’s agree button regarding the following Disclaimer statement:
The registrant search feature on RECO’s website is intended for private, non-commercial use. Any commercial use of the information in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, is specifically forbidden.
Whatever your source, be sure to see if there is any Disclaimer statement on the page before gathering any emails from it. In most cases the Disclaimer statement will be located very near the email address. To be safe, do a keyword search on the page for the words “disclaimer” or “solicit” in case there is a Disclaimer statement buried in legal jargon elsewhere on the page.
- Role Related Messages
For publicly displayed emails you gather, the content of any emails you send them must be directly aligned with that email’s type of business and the person’s role at that business. For instance, if you are a commercial realtor and want to promote any restaurant listing or other restaurant related information (eg. newsletter), under CASL’s Implied Consent provision you can legally email this information to any restaurant owners in Canada.
Implied Consent Lasts 2 Years Minimum
If you meet all of the above 3 conditions then with Implied Consent you have 2 years to email any publicly published email addresses you find. That means if you go and gather an email address from a public web page today, you have 2 years from today to email that address. Thereafter, every time you get proof (eg. a screenshot) that their email address is still conspicuously published online on any public page, the 2 year window of consent resets and you get another 2 years to email them. So the bottom line is if an email address stays on a web page indefinitely then you can continue emailing that person indefinitely.
The key rule is if someone takes their email address off the public web page you found them on and you cannot find another public page with that email, the 2 year limit starts ticking from the date they took their email address offline. Since in most cases you won’t know that date, your limit for emailing them will be 2 years from the date you first got their email. To find out if a person’s email address is published anywhere online, simply type their email address into Google. Google will show you search results of pages containing that email address. The bottom line is this: as long as at least 1 public page has that email address, you can email them.
CASL Applies For Canada-To-Canada Emails Only
The other key thing to understand with CASL is it only affects commercial emails sent to Canadians. Commercial emails sent from Canada to recipients located outside Canada must only comply with the laws governing email in those countries. The CAN-SPAM Act governs commercial e-mail in the United States. With CAN-SPAM no consent of any kind (explicit or implicit) is required for sending commercial emails to any American recipients. You only must honor unsubscribe requests within 10 days. God bless America!
Understand that by far the most important thing you must do for CASL compliance with any email database is process all unsubscribe “remove me” requests immediately. If you use an Email Service Provider (eg. Mail Chimp), this is automatically handled via an unsubscribe link provided. However, some people will reply to your emails asking to be removed, and you must remove these as well.
If you do any email marketing you MUST keep fully upto date with CASL or risk serious fines. In March 2017 the CRTC fined a Toronto man $15,000 for violating CASL. This man had received a mere 58 complaints from his email database who forwarded his email to the CRTC.
Check out this recently recorded webinar about CASL provided by the Canadian Association Of Marketing Professionals. It’ll bring you upto date with the latest on CASL and is required knowledge for any realtors doing any email marketing.