Newsletters: Playing It Safe
Newsletters: Playing It Safe avatar

sketch of a rolled up newspaperA frequently requested service at Black Cap Design is website integration with a newsletter campaign, often through MailChimp or MailerLite.  In simple terms, this involves adding a newsletter sign-up form to a website.  The form automates the process of subscribing an interested visitor to the website owner’s newsletter mailing list. It’s a great way for business owners to keep in touch with their client base by sharing information or offering deals or promotions.

What many people don’t realize is that there are rules in place that restrict how mailing lists are created and used.  It used to be common practice for people to add the names and email addresses of people from a shared or purchased list or database.  We have worked with clients under the mistaken understanding that it’s ok to use the mailing list from their local club or association on the grounds that they are paying members of that club or association.

So what rules are we talking about?  In 2010, due to mounting concern regarding unsolicited junk mail (spam), the Canadian Federal Government passed “Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation” or CASL.  CASL came into force in stages between 2014 and 2017.

In short, CASL enforces a number of rules regarding commercial email.  Here’s a list of the highlights: 

  • Email marketers are required to obtain consent from ‘subscribers’ before sending newsletters or commercial email messages.
  • Businesses are also required to show proof of consent – which means keeping records of subscriber permission, including how and when it was granted.
  • All promotional email must contain a working unsubscribe link.
  • Express (formal) consent doesn’t have an expiry date; it’s valid until a subscriber requests to be unsubscribed.
  • Implied consent (whereby someone buys a product from you) DOES have an expiry date; currently 2 years from the date of purchase. If someone has merely made a product inquiry without making a purchase, the expiry window is only 6 months. If in doubt regarding the finer points of implied consent, refer to the CASL page on the CRTC website:, or seek legal advice.

Fortunately, there are some clear steps you can take to ensure you’re in compliance with anti-spam laws:

  1. Use a CASL-compliant newsletter platform like MailChimp or MailerLite.
  2. When connecting your website to your newsletter platform, make sure ‘double opt-in’ is selected. Double opt-in requires that a new subscriber confirms their interest in receiving electronic messages from you – and confirmation details (date and time) are tracked and recorded for you.
  3. If you’re adding subscribers to your list manually, make sure you get written permission before adding them; email is a good way to do this since it provides an easy way for you to keep a record of manual additions to your mailing list.

If you’re looking to create a website with CASL-compliant newsletter integration and you’re not sure how to go about it, contact us for more information.