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All about Canada's CASL: text messaging laws & regulations

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Navigating Canadian Mobile Messaging Regulations

Text messaging is a direct communication channel that allows you to engage with your clients within seconds. Your clients prefer you to connect with them over mobile messaging platforms. Following Facebook Messenger, SMS is the second most popular mobile messaging service in Canada, capturing 68% of the population. However, if your company or organization conducts any business-related communications to or from Canada over text message, it must comply with Canada's text messaging legislation. All organizations, including financial services, educational institutions, and nonprofits, are affected by Canada's rules and regulations.

This article sheds light on Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and the effects it has on SMS and WhatsApp™. Namely, CASL prohibits commercial electronic messages (CEMs) without proper opt-in consent from the recipient. We'll address what constitutes a CEM, and how Mogli text messaging in Salesforce can help you send compliant messages that add value to your brand. Although we know the ins and outs of CASL, Mogli recommends that your legal counsel informs your digital communications strategy and implementation.   

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Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) 

Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is one of the most rigorous laws governing digital communications to Canadian Citizens, on par in some respects to GDPR and US legislation, and can be particularly tricky to implement. Canada introduced CASL July 2014 to protect Canadian citizens from harmful spam while ensuring companies remain competitive in the global market.

The legislation's key feature requires organizations to have valid written consent from an individual before sending them a commercial electronic message (CEM). This rule applies to all organizations within Canada and to foreign organizations that text message Canadian citizens. The Competition Burrow and The Office of the Privacy Commissioner (CRTC) reserve the right to contact countries with similar laws about spam and report them, meaning multiple countries could reprimand your business if you don't meet anti-spam regulations. 

Texting in the US or EU?

Read: 

Defining a commercial electronic message or CEM

According to the CASL act, a commercial electronic message is any electronic message (like a text message or email) that encourages participation in a "commercial activity." 

Two primary examples of a CEM are:

  • A text that encourages donations
  • An email telling a client about a promotional sale 
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However, if you're sending SMS messages to add value to and engage with your stakeholders, you're most likely in the clear. Digital communications that only provide general company information for branding campaigns, hyperlinks to a company website, or a video focused on brand engagement are not CEMs. Mogli, nonetheless, recommends that if you obtain opt-in consent for stakeholders with whom you text. 

Adding value to stakeholders with your text messages

Text messaging is an efficient, relatively low-cost way to create lasting professional relationships by staying top of mind, delivering exceptional services, and gathering feedback by engaging recipients.  

How do we do that? The answer is two-parts: one part technical and one part branding.

2. Technical text message functionality to support to relationship-building:

    • Segmented and personalized bulk SMS messages to let recipients know about the good your company is doing in the world or on what kinds of projects or projects your organization is working by sending an MMS or linking to a blog post or video. 
    • Surveys to gather feedback and respond to your audience.
    • One-to-one conversations to check in with a client who has been quiet or wish them good luck on their move to a new house.
    • Automate reminders and updates for appointments and events.
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2. Authentic branding to foster affinity, loyalty, and engagement:
    • Share your values. What do you stand for?
    • Develop a voice and convey your brand's personality over your text messages!
    • Have integrity (part A). Walk the walk. Share how you practice what you preach.
    • Have integrity (part B). If you misstep, own it! Household brands like Nike and Coca-Cola have recovered from international blunders by being transparent about making real changes in their organizational ethics.
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For example, Goodlife Fitness grew into Canada's largest fitness chain by emphasizing through their communication campaigns their belief that there is more to fitness than vanity. On the Goodlife Fitness Youtube channel, the brand highlights its involvement in mental health and body positivity, in addition to sharing fitness tips and healthy recipe ideas. 

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Complying with CASL

To avoid fines when your company sends text messages that include information about a business, investment, or donation opportunity, make sure it's compliant with the CASL opt-in criteria.  To begin, identify your organization and anyone else on whose behalf you're sending the text message in the CEM copy.  Here are the other three main requirements and solutions for navigating CASL.

 

Consent (Opt-in)

Implied consent:

Implied consent is valid when a client has made a purchase from you in the past two years or made an inquiry within six months before the CEM. Additionally, if a contact voluntarily disclosed information online without an indication that they would not like to receive and CEMs, your company may text them promotional material. 

However, once your relationship with your client has exceeded the aforementioned specified timeline, consent is no longer valid, and you need to gain expressed consent to proceed with CEM communications. 

Solution:

Configure Mogli automation in Salesforce to send annual consent reminders directly to your recipients to opt-in or opt-out with a quick text message reply. 

 

Expressed consent:

Ask your clients via text message (for the best campaign performance) for written permission to send CEMs through an opt-in method. If you don't gain consent over text, include an opt-in checkbox on online forms that read, "Check to opt-in to text messages from us," linking to your privacy policy. Conspicuously list a phone number, email, or website to access an agent with more information. Link to your privacy policy from your text messages, as well.

Opt-in is only valid if the contact took affirmative action to indicate consent instead of silence (no response). Please do not use a pre-checked box as it demonstrates that you aren't requesting it. 

Solutions:

"Mogli has an opt-out backup using standard Salesforce automation. This automation checks a box on Contact, Lead, or any other Object Record called the Mogli Opt-Out Checkbox, effectively blocking any text messages in Salesforce from being sent to that Contact, Lead, or other Object. For a more in-depth explanation and step-by-step instructions of the Mogli Opt-out automation, see our User Guide," (From The ins and outs of text messaging opt-in and opt-out laws in the United States).

 Utilize Mogli's chatbot functionality to route text message recipients to find answers to your security questions. When this business intelligence chatbot doesn't suffice, automatically escalate a ticket or alert the contact owner to open a  one-on-one conversation. Additionally, send bulk SMS messages to instant alert clients about privacy settings updates. 

 

Unsubscribe (Opt-Out)

All CEMs must include a straightforward way to opt-out of messages. The most common form of opting-out is when someone replies "STOP" to a text message. 

Solution:

With Mogli, this reply automatically unsubscribes the sender's mobile phone number. Related words such as, "CANCEL" or "NO" may also indicate that a client would like to opt-out, so account for these variants when creating your form functionality for automation. Mogli's automation will help you recognize all related options resulting in an opt-out. For more information about Mogli's opt-out process, please see our User Guide

 

Maintain Records

 Once your organization obtains consent, keep a record of the following information:

  • When consent was obtained
  • How consent was obtained 
  • Why consent was obtained 
  • Manner of obtainment 

Failure to present this information may result in a fine. 

A cautionary tale:

Porter Airlines received a $150,000 fine because of their inability to provide a definitive consent history. Mogli's survey feature configures all responses linked to your associated Salesforce Objects for easy reporting directly on your Salesforce dashboard. 

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WhatsApp™ in the CASL?

Outside of the US, WhatsApp™ is one of SMS's most popular alternatives, particularly in Europe. Messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Skype™ have been exempt from CASL at the time of this writing (July 2020). Please review Canada's revised regulations before sending out any CEMs.

Shedding some light on the CASL

Puns aside, we're intrigued by the ingenuity of CASL because it allows companies and organizations to communicate in ways that add value to the recipients, yet protect recipients from solicitations and spam. CASL provides a fantastic opportunity to get creative and build relationships, which, in turn, has a significant impact on loyalty and a higher ROI.

We love that exciting results come from sending a text message, a is a simple task on the surface, but there's so much functionality within text messaging on Salesforce.

Want to see Mogli in action?

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