Marketing in Canada sure changed on Canada Day (July 1, 2014) this year. That’s when the new Canada Anti-Spam Law (CASL) went into effect.
CASL provides one of the strictest anti-spam regulations in the world and it’s clearly designed to drive spammers out of Canada. And, if you think you’re exempt just because your company is headquartered in the States, think again. Canadian regulatory agencies are working closely with US regulators like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce both CASL and its US version, ironically called the CAN-SPAM Act.
Dealing with CASL
For many years, our mobile marketing agency has been providing text message marketing solutions in Canada through our www.84444.ca website. And, in checking the CASL rules, SMS marketing is subject to the same stringent restrictions as email marketing is.
Not only that, but we sell a lot of our SMS services to advertising agencies and we do a lot of B2B marketing via email to those advertising and promotion agencies. Over the years, we’ve created a valuable database indeed of advertising agency employee emails that we market our text message short code services to.
Email and CASL
So, when CASL came into play, we had a lot of work on our hands. That work stemmed from the fact that many large advertising agencies have offices in both the United States and Canada and as we compiled our email databases in years past, we never bothered to keep track of whether that employee was in the USA or Canada. So, despite our best efforts, how could we determine which of those email addresses were in which country?
Of course, if the email ended in .ca, we knew that was an email address that we need to obtain a new and updated opt-in from. But, it’s not always that easy. Many Canadian companies, especially multi-national advertising agencies, use .com email addresses.
In an attempt to follow the CASL regulations, we hired foreign labor to painstakingly go through the lists and determine which of those were Canadian emails and subject to the new CASL legislation. Did we get all of them among the thousands in our database? I hope so, but I can’t say for sure that we identified 100% of the Canadian emails. Perhaps, there was an employee in New York who got a promotion and moved to Toronto. How would we really know that if the source of our database information didn’t update that information?
SMS Marketing and CASL
We also put our money where our mouths are when it comes to promoting our text message marketing services on a B to B basis. Over the years, interested businesses and advertising agency personnel were able to use a keyword and short code like Text RESULTS to 84444. (We have the same number short code in both Canada and the USA; try it.) So, we also had a database of B to B opt-ins that want to receive the promotional messages from our text message marketing brand.
When it came time to obtain new opt-ins from our historical SMS database, however, it was quite easy and guaranteed to be 100% accurate. Simply track which text messages came from Canadian area codes and we could soon be completely in compliance with CASL.
Email Marketing vs. Text Message Marketing
We aren’t going to stop marketing via email. Why would we? It can be a very effective marketing tool. But, consider the facts:
- Text messaging has a 97% open rate vs. just 22% for email.
- Click-through rates are 28.5% on SMS vs. just 4.3% for email.
- (Source – Texting Tuesday)
And, in Canada, we know our opt-in database list is clean post-CASL.
Bob Bentz is president of atsMobile which provides a do-it-yourself text message marketing brand on 84444.com and 84444.ca. Bentz sends and receives more text messages per month than the average teenager.