Think Twice Before You Invite a Friend: Referral marketing is a great tool, but don’t forget


Originally published in CCCA Canadian Corporate Counsel Association - Fall 2012.

Current customers are a valuable source of referrals. Search “invite a friend,” “tell a friend” or “refer a friend” online and you will find that this form of marketing is ubiquitous. Typically, this web-based marketing tool involves the user inputting e-mail addresses or allowing a website or mobile application to harvest the user’s address book information to generate a list of potential “friends” who will receive an electronic invitation (usually by e-mail) to visit a website or join the user in a social network or promotional site, game or activity.

It is important, however, to take steps to avoid tripping over the privacy and antispam compliance issues relating to the collection and use of the “friend’s” personal information during these promotions.

Canadian privacy legislation requires that an organization obtain the express or implied consent of the friend if it is acting as more than an e-mail delivery system.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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