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CASL: Six Name Recapture Strategies

by Randall Craig on July 4, 2014

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing

Tagged as: ,

The new Canadian Anti-Spam law (CASL) has recently gone into effect.  Canadians are (supposedly) no longer receiving non-consensual emails.  Yet spam continues to pour in from overseas – as do “legitimate” marketing emails from organizations outside of the country.  The only losers are the businesses that actually comply.  If your list has shrunken to a fraction of its former size, what can you do about it?

Of course ignoring CASL is still an option, but given the penalties, few might be willing to take that risk.  Waiting is also an option: perhaps the initial court cases will open additional exceptions.  Unfortunately, following a no-email strategy leads to a no-sales strategy, which quickly leads to a no-solvency strategy. 

The key to recapturing names is to recognize that there are four different groups of people on your list: 

  • Those who have given consent.  No action is necessary: they are already on board.
  • Those who ignored your request for express consent.  This group may have ignored your request for many reasons: they were flooded with requests, or their spam filter deleted your request, or they simply missed your email. Or, they may actually not want to receive your emails, and ignoring your request seemed easier than clicking on the “withdraw” link.
  • Those who have chosen to withdraw their consent.  They may have decided to withdraw consent only because they were inundated with consent requests, and may not have realized the impact of their withdrawal.  Or, they really don’t want to hear from you.  Recapturing someone who has explicitly said “no” is a 50-50, as it is impossible to know which  group they fall into. 
  • Those for whom CASL doesn’t apply.  If a particular person is not in Canada, then you may not require express consent.  (You may, however, need to follow their country’s anti-spam laws when sending to them.)

Here are six name recapture strategies:

1) Pick up the phone and call them, and get their consent verbally.  This is most effective for your “A” list of prospects.  If you do this, follow-up with a double-opt-in email for documentation.

2) Send them something – or many somethings – in the mail.  The cost of a few stamps is nothing compared to their revenue potential.

3) Meet them in person.  For the highest value prospects, an in-person meeting is the best way to strengthen your relationship – and get their consent.

4) Fish where the fish are.  This may mean seeing them at trade shows, industry events, professional association dinners, etc.  Get their express consent in writing, either on their business cards, or if it is your own event, on a sign-up form.

5) Look for opportunities to send them “exempt” communications.  If they make a purchase you are able to send them their invoice – this communication is exempt from CASL.  Within this transactional email, provide an additional incentive (a white paper or ebook) for them to provide their express consent.

6) Rely on implied consent.  For those who have not withdrawn their consent, AND who are clients or former clients, take advantage of the three year transitional period to continue to send them emails.  This ends on July 1st, 2017.

This week’s action item:  The effectiveness of these strategies degrades with each week that your contacts don’t hear from you.  This week, put together your own recapture strategy, and begin executing it.

Bonus marketing insight:  It is critically important to think of your list not as a dumping ground , but as a collection of individual people who have a specific relationship with you.  To recapture individuals means thinking of them as such – and making sure that your technology allows you to do this.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


With seven-digit penalties, many marketers are looking carefully at how they are addressing the new Canada Anti-Spam Law (CASL). Unfortunately, many are making a critical error that may later haunt them – and cost.  They are assuming that an email “double-opt-in” constitutes Express Consent. Sometimes it does – and sometimes it doesn’t.

First, some definitions.  Express Consent is when a person explicitly has given permission for you to send Commercial Electronic Messages to them.  Double opt-in.  After a user enters their name and email address on a website form, the email system sends a validation email back to that user.  When they click a specially encoded link within that email, they will have validated their email address, and “double-opted-in” to the list.

1) Express Consent doesn’t require double opt-in.

There are many ways to get Express Consent that have nothing to do with double opt-in.  Consider these examples:

  • A person clicks an “Express Consent” link within an email, and you capture the action in your database.
  • A form is filled out on your website asking for Express Consent, and this is captured in your database.
  • A verbal “yes, I consent” either during a meeting, or over the phone.
  • An event feedback form that has a check-box for express consent.
  • A guest register or attendance record, where there is a check box for Express Consent.
  • An email reply from a reader, where they manually write in that they are giving Express Consent.
  • A lead form from a tradeshow where they have given Express Consent.

All of these examples are valid, but there are potential pitfalls: Can you prove that they themselves actually gave you Express Consent?  And are you capturing what they have give Express Consent for?  Since the burden of proof is on you, maintaining appropriate records is critical.  This means saving event feedback forms, emails, lead forms, etc.  And it means confirming verbal conversations in writing.  Using double opt-in has it’s advantages, but it isn’t the only game in town.

2) Double opt-in does not automatically mean that you have Express Consent.

Many organizations already have part of their email address lists that are double opted-in, but does this mean that those people have provided Express Consent?  Not necessarily – consider these examples:

  • A subscriber had double opted-in, but you later changed your email system. You transferred all of the “old” email addresses into the new system, but the proof of double opt-in stayed in the old system – which is no longer available.
  • A subscriber had double opted-in a number of years ago where they had agreed to receive X.  Yet today, you are sending them Y – and in the future, you may wish to send them Z.  You do not have Express Consent for Y or Z – even though your system shows them as having double opted-in.
  • A subscriber had double opted-in a number of years ago, but since the web form has changed many times over the years, you don’t have proof of what they had actually agreed to when they originally signed.  You may indeed have Express Consent, but you can’t prove it.  (If this is the case, here is how to sleuth your way to uncovering “old” versions of your site, and proof.)

While double opt-in does not automatically mean that you have Express Consent, at least having something (eg the double opt-in) is better than nothing.

This week’s action plan:  CASL is all about compliance, but it is also about using email marketing in a strategic fashion.  It’s far better to have 100 influential names on your list, than 10,000 people who don’t care – or don’t like your interruption. This week, do two things: focus on all of the ways that you can capture Express Consent, beyond email.  And then for your existing double-opt-ins, build your record of proof.

This week’s even more important action plan:  Beware the July 1st CASL deadline.  After this date, your ability to reach out to your contacts and ask for Express Consent will be severely restricted, or completely cut off.  You MUST reach out before this date.  More details here.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Action Bulletin: Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

by Randall Craig May 14, 2014

There is no doubt that SPAM – unwanted commercial electronic messages – is a major problem.  It consumes internet bandwidth, clogs our inboxes, and saps productivity.  The solution – spam filters – often makes the problem worse by wrongly filtering legitimate communications into the junk mail folder. Another solution, legislation, has existed on the books […]

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