We know that email marketing can have a high return on investment if done properly; One investment you shouldn’t be making is purchasing a list of email addresses. This was a main topic at the Litmus conference last month, a concern in our industry now, and one we should all examine.

When it comes to email marketing, getting your audience permission to send is not only a key to success–it’s mandatory. This means you shouldn’t purchase a list, but rather work to create an organic list of opt-in subscribers.

Why, wouldn’t it just be easier to buy a list?

Not at all. In fact, purchasing an email address list means your emails may be received by someone who doesn’t want them, and that’s not a a great way to build a reputation for integrity.

And when it comes to compliance, the laws in Canada are even more strict than in the United States, so if you send an email to someone who did not subscribe, there are much stricter penalties. This means an email list that initially cost you $1,000 might end up costing you tens of thousands in the long run. The law will apply even if your subscribers are US residents but happen to open the email during a trip to Canada. Technically, it applies to all.

We recommend you read through the resources below and talk to your legal team.

Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation (CASL) took effect July 1, 2014 and basically you cannot send email to anyone that did not explicitly opt-in to receive emails from you. There is a grace period of three years (ending 2017) to obtain explicit opt-in.  The only exception is transactional emails sent to customers who have made a purchase within a two year period. Not only do you need clear opt-in (and record of it), but permission can expire and must be renewed. Your emails must also include clear, easy, ‘one click’ unsubscribe options and emails cannot contain pre-checked boxes for opt-in. 


CANADA Justice Law

Salesforce Marketing Cloud (ExactTarget) Blog:

PART 1 – Answering Questions about Consent and CASL

PART 2 – You’re CASL Questions Answered


Six Alternatives to Spending Thousands on an Email List

9 Tips to Optimize Your Subscriber Journey