There are a lot of ‘best practice’ examples of consent forms emerging from the retail sector, which give the customer a dizzying range of choice over their communications. But before you do the same, try and remember the last time you completed a consent form… was it a glorious moment of empowerment and self-actualisation? Or perhaps you’re like me and have no recollection, because you were so focussed on completing your registration and buying the product that drew you to their website in the first place?!
In our current culture, giving consent is often an absent-minded piece of admin or – at worst – a necessary evil – but it is rarely a decision that we pour our heart and soul into. It is made on the spur of the moment, based on our general feeling or warmth and mood on the day, with little (accurate) evaluation of the benefits we may receive from future communications. More granular consent options should be layered, and offered after the supporter has got to know you a bit. But there are 4 crucial factors that can stack the odds in your favour…
1. Offer a desirable proposition
Use every piece of supporter research and insight at your disposal to understand what supporters want from your communications. Successful consent propositions often boil down to one of 2 options – control (over frequency/content/channel etc) or knowledge (insider info, impact reporting etc). Think of yourself as a publisher, and your supporters as subscribers – what do they like and want, and how should you package it to meet their needs and desires.
If you do decide go down the consent route, you will need your supporters to trust you to act responsibly with their data before you make the consent ask, otherwise their answer will be a big old opt-out. So start preparing for the consent ask by increasing comms relevancy as soon as you possibly can, and demonstrating that you are genuinely trying to act in their best interests… you may find that you don’t need to go opt-in to make your supporters happy after all.
2. Know your audience
The ‘consent health’ of your base should inform your approach – what % of your supporters are opted-in (albeit in a non-GDPR compliant way). What % have opted out, and how many are ambivalent? This will indicate your priority segments, and also the size of the mountain that you have to climb! And tailor your message – reassure opted-out supporters that your comms have changed, perhaps inviting them to opt-in for a trial and remind them that they can change their mind at any time.
Demonstrate that you practise what you preach, by serving the reconsent ask in each supporter’s preferred channel. If you don’t know their preference (and can’t detect it from response rates) then contact them via a legal channel. Learn from FlyBe’s mistakes and don’t send emails to non-consenting supporters – the ICO have been clear that the act of making a consent ask is a marketing communication, so you must abide by current DPA laws when serving it. If you have a choice of channels, evaluate their effectiveness – CRUK have found that opt-in rates increased by 5-10 percentage points when asking supporters Face-to-Face*, so think about how you can mobilise your agencies, Supporter Services and volunteer network to replicate a person-to-person experience.
We expect that public perception and awareness will change considerably between now and May 2018, so be aware of the wider context when you launch your campaign. Will you need to explain that this is a regulation-led requirement, and tell supporters a little about GDPR? Or will they be sick of being asked to reconsent, and want clear, quick action with no pre-amble? Also consider the reciprocity principle, and aim to deploy your comms when supporters are feeling warmest towards you – either because you’ve done something particularly nice for them (a thank you campaign perhaps?) or because you’re celebrating a big achievement/discovery.