New Email Marketing Laws That You Must Know as a Vacation Rental Marketer
I’m going to take a brief moment to explain the new laws affecting email marketing to your Canadian clients. I'm going to cover whether this will affect you as a vacation rental manager, highlight some essential points to follow and provide you an action plan for compliance.
What this is about:
The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, better known as “CASL”, has been put into place recently by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regarding any and ALL emails sent to your clients in Canada.
Does this apply to you?
Have you ever received an inquiry or booking from someone in Canada? Then yes, this applies to you.
Do you think you may receive an inquiry or booking from someone in Canada? Yes, this applies to you.
*Keep in mind that all of the below, while they are good practice, only apply to your Canadian clients and their email addresses. No need to change what you’re doing for your U.S. or other clients' emails.
3 Essential Rules to Follow:
- Consent: You must receive “consent” from the person you are sending an email to. This could be implied or expressed consent.
- Implied consent could mean a business relationship such as a booking or inquiry of a property online.
- Expressed consent is like someone subscribing to your list or asking to be on your list. This could be oral, written or electronic but it must be clear who and what they are subscribing to.
- Identification: At the point in which you are acquiring an email and consent, you must identify the name of the business, contact info (address, phone, email, web address), and be sure to make this “clear and prominent”.
- Unsubscribe: You must always be sure to allow someone to unsubscribe at any time, allow this function at no cost and perform the unsubscribe action in 10 days or less. Pretty easy here-- you should be doing this anyways.
While this is tiered, penalties of up to $10 million per violation may be applied and are enforced by the CRTC. If I interpreted this correctly, these penalties will not be enforced until July 1, 2017.
- If someone books a property, this is a business relationship and gives you implied consent. However, this only gives you the ability to email this person for up to 24 months.
- If a person inquires about a property, this is again implied consent, but you are only authorized to email this person for six months.
- If you include in your terms the act of entering their email address is giving you consent to include them in your email marketing, and it must be “clear and prominent,” then this implied consent gives you the ability to send email to them for 24 months.
- You often see or use check boxes to auto opt-in subscribers with it already checked. Now, they need to check that box to opt in rather than them un-checking the box to opt-out.
It is the burden of the sender to provide proof of consent: This means that you should start tracking the submit date and expiration date of consent. Other key information to track would be the source or webpage consent was given, booking number, IP address, and a “last update” field. If someone inquires or books again, this resets the expiration of consent to email.
Refer a Friend Campaign: If you’ve ever encouraged users to refer a friend, things are changed up a little here as well for our Canadian friends. The person referring their friend must have either a personal or business relationship with both parties. And most importantly, this allows you as the business receiving the referral to contact this person one time unless you receive explicit consent to contact them further.
Your Action Plan:
What to Do With Your Current Email List: Identify who are your Canadian email clients. You can do this a few different ways. Depending on what service you use to send emails, you should be able to identify all emails opened in Canada – segment these. Also, segment any emails that end in a .ca. Once you’ve identified your Canadian email addresses, re-opt in these clients. Make this short and simple and maybe offer an incentive.
Acquisition of New Email Addresses: Think about your future strategy for acquisition of email addresses. How will you identify new subscribers, future guests who inquire about a property and bookings as Canadians? You can track IP addresses, ask “country” in your forms, or think of other creative ways to identify these email addresses as Canadian clients so that you can manage your list.
Managing Your Ongoing Email List: How do you manage your list going forward? If someone inquiries about a property, this implied consent only allows you to email them for six months versus someone who books you can email for up to two years. And if someone who is on your list inquires/books again, this extends your consent to email out a little longer. Figuring out your strategy for managing this “expiration date” of Canadian email addresses is important to remain compliant and avoid costly fees.
I’m doing my best to describe the changes in laymen’s terms. I am by no means an attorney so please consult professional advice. This blog is in no way a complete representation of all changes, I’m simply trying to cover to the best of my ability the changes that would likely apply to you as a vacation rental manager.
About the author: David Hutnik is the Social Media Director at InterCoastal Net Designs where they specialize in web design, search engine optimization, email marketing, social media and more. For more information about vacation rental internet marketing, check out their free downloads.