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$10 million is the new hefty price tag for unsolicited email blasts!!

Under Bill C-28, anti-spamming legislation which will likely come into effect in second quarter 2012, an organization can be fined up to $10 million for transgressions to the act – which translates to 10 million reasons to ensure your organization is in compliance.  For member-based associations, this legislation will impact who is appropriate to be included on your email distribution lists (which will involve database housekeeping and likely additional development) as well as ensuring that specific parameters around email communiques are met. 


The latter is simple enough to adhere to.  Email correspondence (and text messages – this legislation also applies to this form of electronic communication) will be required to identify the sender as well as who the message is being sent out on behalf of.  Subject lines must accurately reflect the message content and full sender contact information (including postal address) must be included in all emails.

The former, however, will require a bit more planning to ensure compliance – particularly for those organizations who reach out to former members or event registrants as part of their standard sales marketing efforts (whether it may be for potential membership sales or promotion of upcoming events).  There are two types of consent to consider under this legislation: express and implied.  In order to obtain express consent (which is the level of consent all organizations should be striving to obtain from their stakeholders) a documented positive confirmation (an ‘opt-in’) is required.  Procurement of this express consent will give your organization free reign to email the individual on your full range of products and services.  Implied consent is a limited consent recognized for two years as derived from an existing business relationship.  For example, Joe Brown purchases a publication or an event registration from your organization – this implied consent will now be in effect for two years from the date of purchase, thereby giving your organization two years to be legally allowed to email Joe Brown in regards to other products and services relating to your organization (assuming that during that period he has not requested an unsubscribe – in which case emails to Joe Brown must cease within 10 business days of his request).  Data management systems will need to be enhanced to recognize these new date allowances.

Although there will definitely be some work involved for organizations to ensure they are in compliance with C-28, this is also an excellent opportunity to reach out to these individuals as you strive to obtain the coveted express consent.  Tell them why they want to be on your list for email blasts.  Tell them about why they should continue to receive your email communiques.  Tell them about the advantages your organization provides and how they will benefit from being kept in the loop.  Furthermore, if your organization is not currently engaging in social media, now is the time!  Posting information on your LinkedIn or Facebook page is not considered spamming, and as more organizations start to move away from the traditional email marketing model I predict we will see an increase of activity in the social media world (I also predict we may see a slight increase in direct mail marketing for anyone taking bets).

There are much better ways for your organization to spend $10 million, so ensure that you are in the know.  Further details on C-28 can be found at http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ecic-ceac.nsf/eng/h_gv00567.html.

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