These days, expectation setting also has legal implications. With the introduction of the Canadian Anti‑Spam Legislation (CASL) a little less than a year ago, expectation setting has a new level of importance.

In the context of your email program, setting expectations means that when a user signs up to receive your newsletter or your mail stream, they have a good idea of what kind of mail they’re going to be receiving from you and how often they’ll be receiving it.

The majority of spam complaints are the result of getting an unexpected email. This means that even though someone has signed up on your website, given you their email address, or even bought a product from you, if you send them a message that they’re not expecting to receive, that message will be much more prone to spam complaints or being deleted without being read. Spam complaints and deleted messages negatively impact your sending reputation.

It’s not enough to simply collect an address from somebody and then consider that a free pass to send them however much mail, or whatever type of mail you want. It’s really, really important these days that you set the expectation of a daily email, or a weekly email, or a monthly email and honor that throughout the email relationship.


CASL requires email marketers to be able to provide proof of opt‑in, which means you have to be able to prove that the people you’re mailing actually did sign up to receive your mail. Then it goes one step further and requires that you to prove that when those recipients signed up, they had a reasonable expectation of what they were going to get. Purchasing lists or having someone blindly fill their information into a text box on your website won’t give you a free pass to send them as much mail as you want.

You must be able to prove that the mail you’re sending is a product of the right expectations set at the point of sign-up. In other words, recipients should expect to receive the mail that you’re going to send them. Anything less than that could put you in a tight spot in terms of Canada’s Anti‑Spam Legislation.

For more email marketing tips on expectation setting, check out the full webcast Great Expectations: Setting Your Email Marketing Up For Success!

Luke is a deliverability expert with a passion for getting email to the inbox. His intimate understanding of the email ecosystem, email protocols, and marketing best practices allows him to provide data and insights that drive engagement and results from email programs both large and small.