Reply Email Mining Is Critical for CASL Compliance

August 29, 2017 11:12:50 AM | By Matt Benati

If your organization employs email marketing strategies, you should be familiar with the American CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) of 2003, and – hopefully – the much stricter laws of our northern neighbors under the CASL (Canadian Anti Spam Legislation). While Canadian lawmakers announced that CASL was coming back in 2014, the legislation wasn’t fully put into effect until July 1, 2017. Having given businesses three years to get their act together, penalties for violations are now set to be swift and severe.

Let’s take a look at what CASL means for you and your reply email mining strategy.

The CASL View From 40,000 Feet

Under the American CAN-SPAM Act, organizations sending emails are mostly concerned with providing their recipients with an effective means of opting OUT of receiving Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs). In Canada, this is a given, and the new law takes it a step further by requiring organizations to get recipients to explicitly opt IN to receive CEMs.

Jeff Coveney at RevEngine Marketing poured over the 47 page PDF of the new law so that he and his team could help clients navigate the changes to appropriately update their databases and new processes to ensure compliance. He says that amid all the details and requirements, the law basically boils down to this one simple concept:

“Canadian recipients need to explicitly say they want to receive your emails and you have to prove it if asked.”

If you’re sending emails to people in Canada, they have to:

Agree to receive communication from you, and
You have to be able to prove it
It’s really that cut and dry, folks. If you’ve previously teetered along the gray edge of permission marketing, it’s time to put on the white hat and play by the rules. Because fines for violations of CASL could run you into the millions.

But, There Are Still Gray Areas, Right?

Fortunately, CASL addresses one such gray area in implied consent. The people that gave you their business card at a tradeshow last year, the guy that filled out your website’s contact form looking for information, and the lady that purchased a product from your website. There’s a business relationship there and it’s generally mutually implied that these people agree to receiving emails from you. CASL says, “That’s cool, BUT…” You’ve got 2 years from that initial interaction to get express consent. And you have to be able to prove you got it.

As you can imagine, tracking this timeline could be a challenge. Your best bet is to reach out and ask for express consent from the get-go.

Other gray areas:

  • List of trade show registrants that the trade show vendor provided.
  • List of people who downloaded your content from third party sites where you sponsored the content.

Our friends at RevEngine Marketing suggest not even engaging in email marketing with these lists as the risk is simply too great.

NOT gray areas:

Let’s just agree to not to send to these lists at all:

  • Purchased lists
  • Sales generated leads (Downloaded from, Zoom Info, etc)
  • A list from a Sales rep

What Does This Mean For Your Reply Email Mining Strategy?

Once you’ve cleaned up your database and put processes in place for acquiring express consent (don’t hesitate to get help with this, because it can be a pretty meaty project if you’re not sure where to start), you can continue sending email marketing campaigns with confidence.

From there, the email replies start rolling in. Out Of Office, Left The Company, Unsubscribes — you know, the usual suspects. Under CASL, there are a couple new benefits, and to-dos, to apply to your reply email mining strategy:

Unsubscribe Email Replies

Under CASL, you absolutely do not want to risk sending someone another email once they’ve unsubscribed from your list! You know that despite your best intentions and the easiest one-click unsubscribe mechanisms, there will always be a people that prefer to click “reply” and manually ask to be removed from your list.

Do NOT ignore these replies in your inbox. For the love of all things automated, use LeadGnome to find and flag these messages so that they can be immediately removed from your mailing lists. Heck, take it a step further and set up a workflow in your marketing automation platform to automatically, immediately, remove the lead from your list and notify the lead-owner after it’s done.

“Not everyone unsubscribes via the unsubscribe link. When you mine email replies with replies such as ‘please remove,’ you catch unsubscribes that you may miss otherwise. This helps decrease your risk around CASL compliance,” said Coveney.

Learn More About Mining Campaign Reply Emails & CASL

For a more in-depth look at CASL and its impact, Jeff does a fantastic job of breaking it down in his post here, and gives you even more tips for reducing your risk here.

Please note that this article provides an overview about international email laws, but is not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice. Please contact your attorney for advice on email marketing regulations or any specific legal problems.

If you’d like to see examples of the most popular reply emails and the exact information that can be mined from each of them, download our free Transformative B2B Demand Generation eBook:

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