How to Optimize B2B Lead Generation with Nurture Campaigns under CASL

Optimizing for lead generation is essential to the growth of your business online.
But, more than that, you then need to be nurturing those leads through an automated email marketing campaign because not all those leads are ready to buy–right now.
According to Demand Gen Report, companies which excel at lead nurturing not only generate 50% more sales leads but those leads cost 33% less to acquire.
The report goes on to mention that 67% of B2B marketers see at least a 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more.
These are powerful statistics, but they’re only useful if you’re applying them. And by that, we mean using nurture campaigns.
However, that’s easier said than done.
The problem? CASL makes it more difficult to optimize for both lead generation and lead nurturing.

The Facts of Lead Generation with CASL

There are three facts which are integral to understanding why CASL makes lead generation and nurturing seem like an uphill battle:

  1. To collect express consent to send emails, any new contacts in your database must have clearly indicated they wish to receive email usually by checking an unchecked opt-in box.
  2. Any contact you’ve acquired without a clear indication they wish to receive email from you is considered “implied consent”; and it’s illegal to send them emails after six months from the date of their last inquiry (or after two years if they’ve made a purchase)
  3. This is virtually impossible to track without email marketing software specially designed for CASL compliance.

Let’s break down each point to understand exactly how lead generation and nurturing is more difficult under CASL.

The Unchecked CASL Opt-In Box

First, by using an unchecked opt-in box on opt-in forms (specifically, your most valuable lead generation offers such as events, webinars, downloads, demos, and free trials), the number of contacts you collect with express-consent will be considerably less than the total, because only a percentage of those contacts will check the box.
And here’s where CASL gets awkward: anyone who didn’t check the box has neither confirmed nor revoked their consent. Anyone who didn’t check the box is considered implied consent.
It’s important to note, however, regardless of whether they’re considered implied consent under CASL guidelines does not mean that they actually want to receive emails from you.
In fact, if you filled out a form and intentionally left a box asking if you’d like to receive email unchecked, then it implies the opposite: you did not want to receive email.
This creates a dangerous situation. If you send emails to contacts who didn’t check the box, intentionally or otherwise, you may not be breaking the law but you could be damaging the trust-building process which is an essential ingredient when nurturing leads.

The Six-Month Expiry

Second, long-term nurture campaigns are affected by the fact that, under CASL, it is illegal to send email to contacts with only implied consent after six months.
By the end of the sixth month, you either gain express consent or stop emailing that contact altogether. This has a clearly negative impact on the practice of nurturing leads and the value of list building.

The Tracking And Documentation Requirements

And lastly, to top it all off, most email marketing software just isn’t designed for CASL compliance and therefore adds to the headache.
Without this in place, it’s nearly impossible to track important factors such as whether a contact is implied vs. express consent, their expiration dates, or where and how they provided consent.
So, what are businesses supposed to do? At first glance, it seems as though you have two options:

  1. Risk non-compliance with CASL for the sake of optimizing your leads and risk eating a hefty fine, not to mention a big hit to your credibility too.
  2. Stay compliant with CASL but lose out on quality leads that may (and likely will) convert into sales.

However, the reality is, you can optimize for lead generation and use nurture campaigns under CASL—staying competitive and maintaining a collaborative relationship in the process—you just have to be smart about it.

How to Optimize Lead Generation and Nurturing Under CASL

Here’s how to maximize your lead generating and nurturing efforts under CASL:

1. Create relevant, engaging nurture campaigns

This first step is straightforward–if you want to maximize your lead generation efforts, you need to implement nurture campaigns. It’s that simple.
OK, it’s not quite that simple. Your nurture campaigns have to be good. No–great.
They have to be highly relevant and deliver real value to your subscribers. At the same time, they have to seamlessly build trust and likeability in your brand to move that contact closer to the sale. If your nurture campaigns aren’t doing all of those things, they’re not doing their job and you’re losing out.
Keep in mind that we have two main goals here:

  1. Generate qualified leads who ask to be contacted
  2. Get recipients to sign up for your subscriptions and provide express consent

There is always room for improvement, but if your nurture campaigns are doing these two things, you’re in good shape.

2. Avoid the CASL request for consent checkbox

This is a critical step and one which you need to get right. By removing the CASL consent checkbox you avoid the problem of generating contacts who’ve implied they don’t want to receive emails from you.
This is perfectly OK for B2B marketing under CASL because the act states, in Section 10 (9) (c), consent is implied for the purpose of sending email if a person discloses their email to you without indicating a wish not to receive commercial email, and the messages you send are relevant to their role, function or duties.
It’s obviously important you track what the person signed up for and make sure your follow ups are both relevant to the original request and your emails are otherwise compliant.
However, with this approach, you won’t be endangering the trust-building process when you follow up on with these contact’s because they won’t have asked you not to.
But wait, doesn’t this mean everyone will be implied? Yes, but as we’ll discuss later, the 6-month window isn’t as bad as it at first seems, if you play your cards right.
In fact, this can even help to tighten up your nurturing sequence and serve as a valuable timeline for “calling it”. That is, when a subscriber has stopped engaging and should be considered inactive.
I know, I know, “but when will you get express consent? Are you just going to let these subscribers fall off hoping you make them a customer before then?” No–and that’s where the beauty of this method comes in.

3. Use a subscription confirmation step to gather express consent

This is another critical step that you need to get right.
We’re not using this as a method of double opt-in. Single opt-in (SOI) is better in most lead generation scenarios, (Don’t believe us? Litmus has done some research on how (SOI) provides higher list engagement) so we’re combining the need for express consent with the typical double opt-in sequence model (without actually requiring a double opt-in).
However, instead of asking for that new subscriber to confirm their subscription, when they receive that first follow-up email, you’re asking for them to choose their subscription options and give express consent. Note: if your software allows, you should dynamically include a subscription confirmation step in every subsequent email for as long as express consent doesn’t exist.

Example 1: A subscription confirmation box in a transactional email
for a contact with implied consent.

This works as a perfect opportunity for gaining express consent because you’re able to remove the checkbox asking for consent on the subscription form–maximizing the value of your nurture campaign–while simultaneously still gaining express consent during the sign-up process.

Example 2: A subscription preferences page that gathers express consent with an unchecked box when a contact confirms their subscriptions.

4. Send a goodbye email to contacts with implied consent who are nearing their six-month expiry

Now that we have the basic structure of the nurture campaigns “on-boarding” process done, optimizing both for subscriptions and express consent at the same time, and you’re letting your campaign nurture new contacts, there’s just one last important step to round out the process.
Once a contact with implied consent is nearing their six-month expiry, it’s important to send one last goodbye email to try and acquire express consent.
Once this window has passed, it will be illegal to email them under CASL guidelines, so it’s important that you have something like this in place within your email marketing software.
This final goodbye email should be short and simple, asking that soon-to-be expired subscriber to confirm their interest in receiving email from you or else you aren’t going to send them additional emails (because you don’t want to bother them) .
Not an email marketing wiz? Check out how to perfectly balance your email marketing for an effective final “goodbye” strategy

Why This Works

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to put the CASL consent checkbox on your forms. You just have to follow CASL when sending emails. If you avoid the checkbox, everyone that fills out one of your forms will be implied consent and you have six months to follow up with them.
While at first this might seem disadvantageous, it’s not. Engagement rates are much higher when someone first subscribes to your content. After six months, a large percentage of subscribers either drop off and never open another email again or unsubscribe.
On top of this, within the six month period, you can create many opportunities within your nurture campaign for collecting express consent from your active contacts. With these two points combined, suddenly the six-month window doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
The reality is, if a contact isn’t even active enough to open an email and give express consent before the six-month window is up, the chance of them becoming a customer is very low.
And what about a longer sales cycle? This is, again, where the power of a nurture campaign comes in.
The reality is, nurtured leads experience a 23% shorter sales cycle. That means even if a subscriber with implied consent were to eventually become a lead down the line, your nurture campaign will essentially “speed up” the process considerably and even further negate the disadvantage of CASL’s six-month expiration.
To review, this method allows you to:

  • Stay competitive by not including the CASL consent checkbox on your forms
  • While, at the same time, remaining highly effective at receiving express consent both at the initial sign up phase and later on down the line as subscribers receive your nurture campaign
  • Therefore, staying compliant under CASL and remaining collaborative in the process

Get Smart with CASL

Trying to staying competitive under CASL may at first seem impossible, but when the facts are laid out, it’s not what it appears to be.
You can be competitive under CASL if you’re smart about your lead generation and email marketing efforts.

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