Internet Marketing

Canadian Email Marketing – Good Practice Beyond the Law

08. 09. 2008

When it comes to email marketing, Canadian laws are not as strict on the practice as  the US.  Nevertheless, the following best practices for email marketing in Canada should be met to ensure compliance with our Canadian laws and ensure good customer relations.

For certain types of information being sent in emails to clients or prospects Canadian law permits sending without prior approval.  You should check PIPEDA's, Canada's privacy act, to confirm if your emails qualify. In accordance with the CAN SPAM Act of 2003 in the US, it's suggested that an email marketing campaign involving newsletters, promotions, or notices include the following:

  1. Where the sender does not have the recipient's consent to send a commercial email, the message must provide a clear notice that "This is an advertisement" or "This is a solicitation".
  2. Indication of who is sending the email - "From" and "To" are required emailing fields that must be accurate and need to identify the person initiating the email.
  3. Information on how the recipient can contact the sender. Commercial emails must include a physical address and a contact telephone number.
  4. A clear subject line that's not deceptive.
  5. An obvious "unsubscribe" feature for removing an email address from the mailing list.

Canada doesn't have any specific regulations on unsubscribing someone from a Canada email marketing list.  The closest would be PIPEDA, which requires removal of an address from an email list upon requested. However, there is no specific time frame in which a business has to process this request. I don't like saying this too loud as it does not promote a good impression for prospective clients or customer relationships. The best model to follow in this case would be the CAN SPAM Act from the US that gives 10 days from the date of request to process an unsubscription. I'm not suggesting that this is a means to ignoring unsubscriptions.  If you don’t want to run into the vivid language of angry email recipients, your unsubscription feature should be automated. The process should not require any additional information on the part of the recipient.  And once the process is completed, the recipient should be presented with a confirmation.  The proper process of unsubscribing must be simple and immediate. Many email marketing applications provide the means to deploy statistics and automate an email removal feature.  Remember, an angry email recipient can easily damage your reputation across the web or complain to their Internet Service Provider (ISP) and block your IP address from their network.  It's not worth the risk. To comply with the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) it's suggested that a sender's domain be registered with and have both and set up. In accordance with MAAWG, a link to your privacy policy page should be included in all marketing messages. A recently proposed Canadian Anti-spam Act (ASA) aims to establish new form and content requirements for commercial electronic messages and prohibitions on spamming techniques, as reported in "Senator’s anti-spam bill is welcome news". The most notable parts of the proposed act prohibit the sending of emails unless the recipient has consented prior to receipt, with the exception of certain types of organizations.  It also prohibits the use of address collection software. Another good source for email best practices is AOL's Sender Best Practices.

Note that depending on where or who you are using to deploy your emails, different server locations and country specific laws may come into play.  Therefore, it's much better to comply with all best practices regardless if they are law or not.  Work with a Canadian email marketing company to ensure compliance and suggestions for direct email marketing in Canada. We at 9th sphere provide expert email marketing services in Canada and are ready to implement your email marketing campaign. Contact us for a Quote

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