If you followed the link on our Facebook page to the BDC article on Anti-spam legislation coming into effect in two weeks, you may be wondering what that means for your business and whether you have to change anything to be compliant with the legislation. (Well it turns out the changes have been suspended but good email etiquette still applies!)

The good news is – most small business owners have nothing to worry about because they are not sending unsolicited mail to customers who have not been in touch in over two years. That’s what spam really is, unsolicited commercial mail. The difference between spam mail and business email is simply consent and the ability of the consumer to stop the communications.

I can say that with confidence because I wrote my first article on spam compliance back in 2005! The article was inspired by a popular online marketer who was shut down for emails his affiliates sent (not even ones he sent himself but ones that other people sent promoting his product!) that were not spam compliant with the US legislation of 2004. For those who check out the archived link, you’ll not that the Canadian legislation is called CASL and the US legislation is called CAN-SPAM.

So if a prospect sends you an email asking about a product, it’s perfectly legal to continue the conversation about that product – it is not legal or acceptable to add them to a bulk mailing list without further permission being granted.The proposed (now suspended) changes are simply a new limit on the implied consent that comes through purchases and inquiries.

The number one thing you need to do is set up your email signature in your business email with your full contact information, if you have not already done so.  That way anyone who doesn’t want you emailing anymore simply has to contact you to stop the emails. This works for those who conduct all their email transactions through an email account with no automation. This provides the opt-out that has been part of the anti-spam initiatives in Canada for the 20 years I’ve been dabbling online.

For those who have an email list (and those who follow modern marketing best practices really, really should!) you’ll want to make sure it is double-opt in and that you’re very clear in any opt-in invitations that they will be added to your commercial contact list. This is easy to do with most mailing list service providers, including the two I recommend most (Mailchimp and ConvertKit). 

Don’t let the new legislation keep you from jumping in to start building a list for your small business. It really is one of the most amazing, powerful and inexpensive tools you can use to promote your business and share your passion. And anti-spam legislations is just common sense that had to be legislated because spammers are scammers and rules make it easier to identify the creeps. Just be respectful of your readers time and interests and you won’t go wrong with your email marketing.

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