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Bill C-28 – Are you an Inadvertent Spammer?

September 7th, 2011

InadvertantSpammerAre you a spammer?

Most companies will answer ‘of course not!‘.  But are you aware of Bill C-28 and the implications it may have for your business – particularly your sales and marketing processes?  There are a lot of good articles online aboutmarketing compliance for email marketing and newsletters, but it’s important not to forget that your sales processes may be affected as well – certainly if you do cold calling to potential prospects.  Here is the skinny to help you avoid being an inadvertent spammer.

Who

Bill C-58 is specific to ‘commercial messages’ – according to some, this does not apply to other types of email messages that are purely transactional or provide information requested by the recipient or in follow-up to a transaction that has occured.  I would love to know if downloading a white paper or other document from a website is considered a transaction for these purposes – if so, the value of content downloads would be reinforced as part of a marketing program.

Basically any company that sends commercial messages needs to be aware of the regulations and evaluate the impact on their processes and how they will ensure compliance

Why

For example, When you are developing sales processes, do you have a cold-calling process where you then follow up by email?  If so, you want to be very aware of the new regulations coming in, and of the contents of Bill C-28.  The penalties are stiff.  Individuals can face fines of up to $1 million, while businesses face penalties of up to $10 million per violation.

What

If you use emails for prospecting, make sure that you either have consent (this can include such things as the prospect having given you their business card or email address, or having published their email address without a statement saying that they do not wish to received unsolicited commercial electronic messages) or that you have an existing business relationship with the customer.

You also need to ensure that your emails include contact information of the sender (including company name, contact name, address and phone number) and a clear and easy way to unsubscribe.

When

One of the key questions about Bill C-28 is when it will come into effect.  The deadline for comments on the draft legislation is September 7th, 2011.  The implementation will likely follow relatively quickly afterwards (i.e. late 2011 or early 2012).

How

Industry Canada has a Q & A page about Bill C-28 that outlines some common questions and answers, but it doesn’t have a lot of detail about how this affects your business.  Check it out for a basic grounding in what the bill covers.

You can find the Industry Canada draft regulations online to read all the details for yourself.

At Open Box, we have always done our best to follow best practices for all newsletters we send out, but after a review of these regulations, we are updating our signatures to include more detailed information (i.e. our address – we used to just have a link to our website), as well as ensuring that all emails to any type of prospect or new connection we have met include an ‘unsubscribe’ link that will flow through to our customer relationship systems.

Katryn Best Practices, Communication, Marketing

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