[Study] Marketing Professionals’ knowledge of CASL – Spoiler: It’s not good…

Today, the AMR (Quebec’s Association of Relationship Marketing) unveiled its first study asking Quebec marketing professional how well they know (or think they know) CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Law) and its compliance requirements. While the Canadian ministry, responsible for CASL, will soon respond to recommendations made by Parliament in the law’s first review and amendments, it was important to measure the understanding and application by Quebec professionals that are most impacted by it.

This study was conducted in collaboration with LJT, a law firm renowned for its expertise in marketing law, and Certimail, the Canadian leader in CASL compliance for SMBs.

Companies are not familiar with CASL

While 96% of respondents send commercial electronic messages (emails specifically), less than 6% correctly answered 7 simple questions about CASL and its application. Of the respondents (71%) who said they were familiar with CASL, 85% failed this basic test.

One in two believes that the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation only regulates promotional items (i.e. newsletters), however, governs ALL commercial electronic communications (individual, group, batch, sales, transactional, regardless of whether there is promotional content or not).

10% of respondents are unaware that CASL applies to their organization and business practices.

It’s been three years since CASL has come into full enforcement, and yet professionals still don’t know its constraints and scope,” says Marc Roussin, president of the AMR. “Our association is, therefore, launching a series of activities to demystify the requirements of this law, that governs all commercial electronic messages.

A big misunderstanding of compliance

60% of respondents said their businesses are fully compliant with CASL. Yet, less than 10% have incorporated a withdrawal mechanism into employee email signatures, a CASL obligation. Barely 11% completed an audit, as recommended by the CRTC. Only 40% have a written compliance policy and 75% of companies have not yet trained their employees with regards to this law.

If one doesn’t know the real dangers to which they are exposed, a company can’t properly execute good risk management and governance,” says Sophie Deschênes-Hébert, a lawyer specializing in advertising and technology at LJT. “The results of the study show that in digital marketing, many make strategic decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information and expose themselves to costly and easily avoidable consequences.

A misunderstanding of CASL directly affects one’s marketing effectiveness

Since the launch of CASL, approximately 9% of respondents stopped using email marketing altogether, while 11% reduced their use of this marketing channel.

This sort of practice is flawed because CASL and all its regulations equally applies to emails sent by employees. Several fines issued by the CRTC (ex.: William Rapanos and POF Media cases) show that sometimes only a few complaints are required for a company to be investigated.

Eliminating or reducing email marketing is also a bad business decision because, with a return on investment of 44 to 1, email still remains the most profitable digital marketing tool for companies and organizations.

Too many companies are afraid of this legislation, and it’s too bad because it’s an excellent opportunity to improve one’s marketing,” says Philippe Le Roux, president of Certimail. “Implementing a CASL compliance program not only protects you against fines but it improves marketing and operational effectiveness.

Since the introduction of CASL, email marketing indicators have improved significantly in Canada, according to a recent IBM global study.

AMR launches an outreach program

In light of the results of the study, AMR will be launching a program of activities to help marketers learn about CASL’s regulatory requirements and provide guidance to help them achieve business compliance. This program will launch on May 3rd, 2018 during a conference dedicated to email and compliance. During the event, the CRTC will present its CASL enforcement methods. Several experts will also share their knowledge and experiences regarding compliant and effective email marketing. Additionally, a series of webinars will allow professionals to deepen their knowledge and to benefit from tried and true advice.

Consult the complete study (in French only).

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