This is the first story in a series of articles, which will look at different software solutions to help marketers comply with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). While CASL came into force on July 1, marketers still have a three-year transition period, giving them the chance to convince their customers to give their express consent to receive commercial electronic messages.

Based in Toronto, Envoke.com provides automated list making and automated prompts to manage email permissions. It takes advantage of the three-year transition period into CASL to help marketers get their clients move from implied consent to express consent.

Implied consent means two parties already have an existing business relationship – for example, if a customer purchased goods and services, or asked for a quote, that’s considered implied consent. This form of consent lasts two years from the day a purchase has been made or from when a contract has expired, or six months after a customer requests a quote.

On the other hand, there’s express consent – and this kind of consent doesn’t have a time limit on it. It can be in either verbal or written form, but it needs demonstrate the consumer understands what the consent is for. The consumer can unsubscribe or withdraw consent at any time, and marketers also need to document the consumer has given this form of consent.

“The overall approach is to detect people that you don’t have consent for, present them with options, and make it automatic,” says Martin Millican, president of Envoke.com, adding the company started working on the solution about six months ago.

With these principles in mind, Envoke has created a system that tries to encourage consumers to move from implied consent to giving express consent, without requiring marketers to do too much manual work themselves. It offers:

- A banner that automatically appears in all emails to consumers who have only given implied consent:
This banner in all emails asks for “re-consenting,” and it asks people to provide express consent to continue to receive commercial electronic messages. It will continue to appear in all email messages until a user has given express consent.

Envoke's CASL re-consenting banner. (Image: Envoke).
Envoke’s CASL re-consenting banner. (Image: Envoke).

- The option to change settings and preferences:
Once consumers do agree to give express consent, theye can set their own preferences on another settings page. That means they can choose to subscribe to some newsletters and not others. By doing this, they are giving their consent, but they also have some power over what they choose to consent to and what they choose to avoid.

Options for consent and subscriptions to newsletters, etc. (Image: Envoke).
Options for consent and subscriptions to newsletters, etc. (Image: Envoke).

- Documentation of receiving consent:
Envoke’s solution collects the date, time, IP address, and so on once a user has given consent.

- Data stored in Canada:

The company also prides itself on housing its servers and data centres in Canada, which gives peace of mind to universities and government departments that don’t want their data to be kept off-shore.

The point of Envoke’s solution is to avoid asking people to subscribe forever, or to opt-out forever, because that will dramatically cut down on the number of subscribers and consents that a business will receive. Essentially, you’d be slashing and burning your list, Millican says.

“We tried so hard to get our customers to not send an email that says we can’t send you anything after July 1,” he says, adding his company did a quick survey of 15 of its customers. Among the ones that sent an opt-out email, the average consent rate hovered around just eight per cent.

However, the approach isn’t completely wrong. Businesses just need to avoid adding wording that says customers who do not opt in will no longer get emails past July 1, Millican says. Plus, Envoke does have a template to help marketers send an email asking consumers to click a link to give consent – it’s just preferable to try to gradually move customers from implied to express consent, without hammering them with an opt-out email.

While the system sounds like it’s a relatively simple one, the approach is a little different from simply sending out an email that asks customers to click to give consent. It’s easy enough to create a template to do that and to give it businesses and ask them to take care of CASL compliance themselves, but here, Envoke has done more work to encourage customers to take advantage of CASL’s transition period.

In terms of pricing, there is no extra charge for existing Envoke customers, but new customers pay for Envoke by purchasing email credits. The credits represent the number of emails customers can send, starting from 250 emails for $10.

Head on over here for more details on the solution, as well as here for more details on pricing.

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