Reader Question - Does an Email Signup Sweepstakes Need a Checkbox for CASL?

Posted by Danny Wood & Chris Formosa

In Canada, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) rules over email marketing with an iron fist. Our reader Ben reached out recently with a question related to CASL and a sweepstakes intended to entice email subscribers:

Some of my contacts work with a brand that did exactly that for a contest: “Sign-up to our newsletter and get a chance to win… » They also include under the email bow and submit button, a mention saying “By submitting your email address and clicking on the “" button above, you accept to receive promotional emails from . Of course they will send a confirmation email after that.

So I was wondering if that is considered express consent? I feel like it is since they mention what entering the address implies and since users have to take an action (writing their email, and clicking on submit) just as they would have to on a website popup. What do you think?

Danny’s Response

From my interpretation of the Law, (of course, not being a lawyer,) your contacts would be fine to do an opt-in in the way you’ve described; using a form submission button and clearly indicating in a message below that a user is signing-up for a newsletter by clicking on the button. It also helps that the form is titled that they are signing-up for a newsletter first, and receiving a chance to win second.

One thing they should be conscious of, though, is that CASL also requires that email subscribers be explicitly told that they are able to unsubscribe at any time, (and, of-course, given that ability within the contents of emails.) I would advise your contacts to add to their message that subscribers are able to unsubscribe from these emails at any time.

Also, I advise testing your unsubscribe links in email newsletters from time-to-time; you don’t want to find out the hard way that those links are broken!

A little extra from Chris

Given the name of your promotion and ensuring that you are sending an initial confirmation, it sounds like everything is compliant. But, with that being said and as a marketer myself, maintaining a high quality mailing list and striving for optimal open/click rates are huge priorities for me. So, I do have a recommendation for taking a different approach to building your mailing list.

With an understanding that many customers may sign up to win a prize without much interest in the newsletter, I would recommend including an optional opt-in checkbox giving users the choice to sign up for your newsletter while entering your sweepstakes. This will reduce barriers to entry (thus increasing viral sharing activity around the promo) while ensuring your newsletter sign ups are of the highest quality. Outlining what your subscribers can expect to receive along with the benefits of your content is also key to ensuring a high quality and substantial sign-up rate. As marketers we want highly-qualified users signing up to receive content that truly matters to them and as customers we want to know what we’re signing up for and why we should.

If you choose this route, it is important to note that by default the checkbox must be left unchecked. New sign ups from opt-in boxes that were pre-checked by default do not fall within CASL compliance.

Thanks for your question, Ben! Readers, if you have questions of your own about Social Promotions, CASL, or other similar topics, please don’t hesitate to email us!