Email Marketing: What You Need to Comply With Canada’s PIPEDA and CASL

You’re about to embark on an inbound marketing program. You have a shiny new website, with engaging content, optimized for conversions and leads, in the works and almost ready to launch. It’s an exciting time!

Hold on though. Does your website comply with Canada’s privacy act (PIPEDA) and anti-spam laws (CASL)? If not, then you could be viewed as a spammer and be subject to hefty fines in the thousands of dollars!


PIPEDA “applies to the collection, use or disclosure of personal information in the course of a commercial activity.” What this means is that you need to inform your customers about how you will collect, use and disclose their personal information. If you don’t you could be fined very large sums.

You Need a Privacy Policy on Your Website

A PIPEDA self assessment guide advises the following:

  • If your organization has a Web site, post your privacy policy on it. Make sure the policy covers all collections, uses, and disclosures of personal information made via the Web site itself; and
  • Take appropriate measures to notify web site users of all your organization’s online information practices, notably the use of “cookies” or other non-visible tracking tools, and explain such practices

Where Do I Get a Privacy Policy?

First, check out the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s website. The Privacy Commissioner also offers a Privacy Tool Kit for businesses. There are many online privacy generators, however, it is best to seek legal counsel to ensure that your Privacy Policy meets the requirements of PIPEDA.

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

Now that you have your Privacy Policy, you need to make sure that any information you collect through your inbound program, meets CASL standards.

Some background: Between July 1 2014 and July 1, 2017, organizations were allowed to send Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) to anyone with whom they had an Existing Business Relationships (EBR) or Non-Business Relationship (Non-EBR) prior to July 1 2014. Companies were also allowed to message contacts that had “conspicuously published” their email address (i.e. showcase their email publicly on a blog).

After July 1, 2017, Implied Consent contacts may only be messaged for 2 years or 6 months, depending on the type of relationship you have with them. For example, you may email existing customers for 2 years from their purchase date, but you may only email someone that inquires about your service for 6 months from their date of inquiry

Contacts that provide Express Consent can be messaged indefinitely until they unsubscribe.

When you request email opt-in from a contact, the following is required:

  1. When requesting consent, the purpose for obtaining consent is clearly and simply stated, i.e. “subscribe to our newsletter to receive quarterly emails related to inbound marketing.”
  2. The sender or the person on whose behalf consent is requested is identified by their name, mailing address, and either a telephone number, email address or web address
  3. The recipient is informed that they can unsubscribe at any time
  4. Consent must be opt-in, not opt-out
  5. The evidence of express consent is retained. For example, file their IP address, date and time of opt-in.
  6. Consent cannot be bundled with consent for Terms and Conditions

How Marketing Automation Can Keep You Sane

Reviewing and updating your email marketing database can be a gruelling task, especially if you have a large number of contacts. Marketing automation is a practical solution for email marketing, subscriber list management, and to help companies build, manage and update contact lists. Plus, with a marketing automation application, you can easily allow contacts to unsubscribe at any time.

There are several solutions available. Some that I have used are:

Mail Chimp – you can start with a free plan which includes up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month

Constant Contact – offers a free trial for 60 days

Pardot (Owned by Salesforce) – on the higher end

Hubspot – on the higher end, they offer some free tools.

Other marketing automation applications you may want to investigate are Eloqua and Marketo.

With your Privacy Policy in place and your forms setup for opt-in, you are now ready to go live with your website. Congratulations!


Office of the Privacy Commissioner Canada


CRTC: Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin, Canadian Government

*Disclaimer: This blog post is my interpretation of the legislations, and based off of my research and experience. I do not intend to provide legal counsel, and if you are uncertain of any rules related to the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation or Privacy Act, you should reach out to your lawyer.

Be Found Online – Top 10 Tips


seo-biz upIn my day job, I am frequently asked to evaluate websites and recommend strategies and tactics to attract visitors. I also work on our corporate website to continuously improve its ability to attract customers. The efforts have been successful with a 50% increase in organic search! As you may know, organic search can significantly reduce the need for you to spend money on Search Engine Marketing, such as Google Adwords.

In this  post I want to share my top 10 tips to be found online through organic search.

What is SEO?

First, you need an understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It simply means optimizing your website in a way that will make a search engine’s spiders able to efficiently “crawl” and index your website. The content you create, the keywords you target and the way you optimize each page relate to SEO.

As you go about creating, or revising, your website and its content, keep the following tips in mind.

Top 10 Tips

1. Know Your Customers, or ‘Personas’.

Develop customer profiles, or Personas, to help you create valuable and relevant content.

‘Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.’ Hubspot

google-yahoo-bing2. Research Keywords

  • Researching keywords that people use to find your website is one of the most valuable actions you can take to increase your Search Engine (SE) ranking.
  • The simplest way to research keywords is to search for terms that you think your customers will use to find you. Or you can use free or paid tools.
  • Make sure you use your keywords in title tags, H1 headlines, alt tags and your content (if working with a web developer they should be able to help you with this).

 Bonus Tip: Long tail keywords like ‘Cost of widgets in Toronto’ are better than individual keywords, like ‘widgets’, which is too broad a search term and would have a tendency to return unrelated search terms .

3. Continuously Create Content with New Web Pages & Blog Posts

  • Remember that content is king
  • When creating content think about the value to your customers that you want each page to provide first, and then which keywords match that value.
  • A website with accurate well-placed keywords but with very poor content will not rank well.
  • Blogging regularly is a great way to increase SEO rankings.
  • When shared on social networks a blog can increase total traffic to your website.
  • Blogs help businesses to satisfy both customers and SEs by providing:
  • Relevant information
  • Backlinks from other blogs and high quality sites.

4. Make Your Content Unique

  • Make sure you’re not duplicating content – Google will penalize you and send your rankings to the bottom of the list.

5. Name Your Web Pages with Descriptive URLS

  • Choose descriptive URLs that accurately describe the content you’d expect to find on the page.
  • The cleaner and more descriptive a URL is (not longer) the easier it will be for a SE to identify the relevance of the content on a page.

6. Backlinks

  • Backlinks are links that lead to your website.
  • To SEs the number of backlinks is a strong indicator of the quality and popularity of your website.
Social Media

Engage in Social Media

7. Engage Frequently on Social Media to Increase Your Business’ Social Signal

  • Social signals are the new link building tool.
  • Google measures your website’s ‘pulse rate’ on social media channels.
  • Allows you to create many backlinks when you post web pages or blog posts to, for example, Facebook, which link back to your website.
  • Creates an opportunity for others to share your content, which will help increase your social signal and SE rank.

8. Include Photos and Videos

  • Get extra search ranking points by including photos, images like InfoGraphics, videos and audio files where possible.
  • For images, make sure you use alt tags and for videos, include short descriptions.

9. Think Local

  • Incorporate your location(s) into your website content wherever it makes sense and be sure to have a page of content setup for each location that you serve.
  • Get listed/claim your pages in location based services and directories like Google+, Google Places, Yahoo listings and Bing Business Pages.

10. Keep It Fresh!

  • Search engines are content and link hungry. Add new content on a regular basis.
  • Update not just the content but also the look of your website, if it’s not been done in the past 2 years, so that your company maintains an up-to-date image with your visitors. If you don’t yet have a website, you need to get one.

To get the most out of your online visitors, you also need to think about how to convert them to leads … but I’ll leave that for another day!