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SMS Marketing Compliance: A Guide for the Canadian Market

SMS Marketing Compliance in Canada: A Practical Guide

SMS marketing is a powerful tool for businesses aiming to reach their customers directly and effectively. However, using this marketing channel properly depends heavily on compliance with legal standards. In Canada, navigating the landscape of SMS marketing compliance requires a thorough understanding of the rules set forth by regulatory bodies. 

This guide is designed to share insight into being compliant with legalities, focusing on opt-in requirements and the legal nuances of various messaging flows, such as abandoned cart notifications. It is important to note that legalities change, and it is important to do your own research as this information may be out of date and is not legal advice. 

The Foundation of SMS Marketing Compliance in Canada

Central to Canadian SMS marketing compliance is the concept of consent. Businesses must obtain explicit permission from individuals before sending them marketing messages. This requirement ensures that communication is welcomed and anticipated by the recipient, aligning with both legal obligations and best practices when it comes to marketing activities through direct channels such as SMS or email. .

Securing Opt-In: The First Step to Compliance

  • Explicit Consent: Consent must be clear and unambiguous. This can be gathered through digital forms, direct communication, the checkout process, or written agreements, where the individual actively agrees to receive messages.
  • Confirmation Mechanism: Implementing a double opt-in process, where the subscriber confirms their subscription through a follow-up message, reinforces the validity of their consent.
  • Transparency at Opt-In: An option for an added layer prior to the opt-in process is clearly communicating the nature of the messages (e.g., promotional content, updates, offers) and the frequency at the time of opt-in to set the right expectations. This is not required, but can be an option to consider. 

Regulatory Overview: CASL and Its Implications

The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is the primary regulatory framework governing SMS marketing in Canada. CASL emphasizes the necessity of consent and outlines specific requirements for message content, including clear identification of the sender and an easy opt-out mechanism in every message.

Special Considerations: Abandoned Cart Messages

Abandoned cart messages, which target customers who have left items in their online shopping cart, occupy a gray area between transactional and promotional messaging. To comply with CASL, it's essential that customers have specifically opted in to receive such notifications, with platforms like Attentive ensuring compliance through clear, upfront consent mechanisms.

Best Practices for SMS Marketing Compliance

  • Document Consent: Keep a detailed record of how and when consent was obtained, ensuring you can verify compliance if questioned. This should be done through your SMS provider. 
  • Simplify Opt-Out: Make it easy for subscribers to withdraw their consent, typically through a straightforward "Reply STOP to unsubscribe" command.
  • Stay Informed: Regularly review your SMS marketing practices against the latest regulatory updates to ensure ongoing compliance. As mentioned these legalities can change, and at the time of reading this blog there may be changes not accounted for. 
  • Choose Compliant Platforms: Opt for platforms knowledgeable about Canadian SMS marketing laws, like Attentive, to help navigate the complexities of compliance. These established platforms have a library of resources on compliance, and can assist to ensure you are following the legalities associated with your geographical location. 


Compliance with SMS marketing laws in Canada is important to understand as an e-commerce brand leveraging SMS in Canada. By understanding and adhering to the principles of consent, transparency, and respect for the recipient's preferences, you can use SMS effectively. Platforms like Attentive serve as vital tools in achieving this balance, ensuring that your SMS marketing efforts are both successful and compliant.

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