If you know anything about email marketing, then you know that garnering consent from your contact list membership is kind of a big deal. In fact, with the continued rise of regulatory agencies and consumer rights, it’s safe to say that properly requesting consent deserves the top spot in virtually any email marketing conversation. With this in mind, let’s shift some focus onto the particulars of acquiring consent appropriately, including the concept of the three distinct levels that make up the contemporary understanding of this practice.
Why Bother with Consent in the First Place?
The need for consent comes from two major shifts in the world of email marketing; the rising insistence for transparency by consumers and the legal ramifications that come with disobeying the law of the land. In terms of consent related laws, there’s one acronym that you need to memorize as soon as possible – CASL.
Those who fail to fall in line with Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) in terms of consent run the risk of some severe fines and backlash. If you’re not interested in paying a $1.1 million fine like Compu-Finder did earlier this year, then it’s time to get serious about how your brand gathers consent from your existing and future email marketing list membership.
So where does the consent process begin, and how does the first layer of this process work? According to Forbes magazine’s team of experts, it all starts with the single opt-in process. This base form of consent acquisition includes the user on the other side of the screen knowingly and clearly enacting an action that results in joining your contact list.
Sometimes, this process can come with certain conditions or restrictions. For instance, the person in question might only want to receive email content related to the information presented at the time of consent, so making note of these particular wants and desires helps define a strong single opt-in layer.
Opt-Ins with Confirmation
Going a little deeper on the spectrum is the concept of utilizing a single opt-in process that includes a notification or confirmation. Generally, this approach goes a step farther than the traditional single opt-in by firing off a confirmation email within the first 24 hours of contact list membership acceptance.
This confirmation email will usually cover the particulars of the email marketing campaign, including message frequency, content offerings, and how to unsubscribe. If you’re thinking about implementing this layer of requesting consent, it’s a good idea to ask your new subscribers to whitelist your relevant addresses while confirming their desire to join your campaign. This way, you can reduce the risk of accidental filtering and other hiccups in the process.
Closed Loop or Double Opt-Ins
The final – and most thorough – form of opting-in requires the interested consumer to “close the loop.” Known more often as a “double opt-in,” this practice takes your confirmation email and adds a final action to the process before promotional content starts hitting this individual’s inbox.
Usually, this action comes in the form of a clickable link that redirects the user to a confirmation page, thus closing the loop and creating an air-tight connection between you and the latest addition to your contact list. One of the biggest mistakes brands make on this front is also incorporating advertising into the confirmation email, thus causing this offering – and the redirect link – to end up in the spam folder.
To avoid this untimely roadblock, skip the promotional content and keep things short, sweet, and simple for your viewer. This way, he or she can access the confirmation link in as quick and simple a manner as possible, thereby ensuring that things go smoothly as you add a new member to your contact list.
Which One Is Right for Your Brand?
Now that you’re an expert when it comes to the three layers of requesting consent, it’s time to answer one last question – which layer is right for your brand? While the answer to this question naturally can vary based on your business and current email marketing practices, the answer generally comes down to going as deep into this layered process as possible.
As more and more regulations and industry trends shift the discussion toward even greater consumer rights and transparency requirements, there’s no denying that double opt-in systems will move closer and closer to the norm. This means that even if you don’t need to offer up a strong confirmation process now, chances are you’ll have to revamp and reassess this system later on down the road as CASL and other forces within the email marketing community continue to shape and redefine the notion of consent gathering best practices.