Spam Compliance from a Tech Perspective

Laura Bungarz

I’m sure you’ve been hearing a lot about the change in Canada’s anti-spam laws that is taking place on July 1st.  It’s been on my mind and I’ve been seeing a lot of meetings and blog posts about it.  I wanted to come at it from a different angle though, the techy side.  What does all this mean for your mailing list in terms of the software you’re using to manage it?  Do you have to change anything?  Do you need to switch providers?

In terms of providers, if you’re using one of the major ones such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi or Infusionsoft (plus many others), the short answer is no, you don’t have to change.  All major providers are already compliant with these new laws.

They will all offer at least the option of the unsubscribe link at the bottom of your email or newsletter.  Now would be a good time to make sure that the option is actually on and working properly.  Send yourself a fake newsletter to test this if you’re worried.

They will all give you the ability to add a checkbox to your web form that basically asks the user to agree to be signed up to said newsletter.  Turn the default checkmark off.  This option should be unchecked when the newsletter goes out.  This might require making changes to your forms, but it certainly won’t require a change in providers.

I have seen some Canadian companies going as far as to send out a newsletter asking existing subscribers to re-subscribe and anybody that is not interested to use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.  Again, this is no harder than sending out a newsletter linking to a form that the user fills in and having that form add the user to a separate list that you would begin using on July 1st.  There is nothing really technical about this process.  All major providers will allow multiple lists.  Simply create a new form and a new list and off you go.

The other piece you need to do is make sure that your business contact information is visible somewhere in the newsletter, for most of us that will either be in the header or in the footer.  You should include your business name, an email address and some other method of contact either via snail mail or phone.  There should be a clear form of contact for your subscribers.  From a technical perspective, this might mean editing your header or footer to display the new information.  It should be easy to modify your newsletter template to include this information if it’s not already there.

Your newsletter provider will automatically be tracking the exact time and date of the sign up to your list.  You will also be able to see the IP address from which they signed up.  It will be important from now on to keep that information and export it with your list information any time you switch providers or make changes.  This information is generally exported in CSV format which is easily opened and edited in Excel.

If you’re adding people to your list from your storefront and they aren’t necessarily signing up electronically, make sure you keep that information as well.  The form they fill in needs to clearly state they are agreeing to receive your newsletter and it will also need to show the date and time the form was filled in.  Either file the form away or scan it and store it electronically and then manually add the person to your list.

From a technical perspective for a small business owner that’s using something like Mailchimp, this shouldn’t be a difficult process.  The tools for compliance are readily available and the changes that are required are fairly minor.  Certainly for a major company with a huge marketing department, this may prove to be a challenge.  But I suspect most of the rest of us can handle this without any major difficulties.
Still need help?  Contact me using the information below.

Laura Bungarz Computer Training
212-207 Fort Street
Winnipeg, MB R3C 1E2
(204) 421-6679

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