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Understanding opt in types for email has never been more important. As we spend time helping clients prepare for GDPR, we’ve noticed that there are some areas of information that require clarification. Understanding opt in types is at the top of the list.

With GDPR coming into force on 25th May 2018, the definition of consent is changing. There’s no hiding from it. You need to understand opt in types and which ones your marketing team is using. Here’s a simple explanation of the 4 different types:

Opt in Type Unknown

An unknown opt in type means just that – unknown. You don’t know how these contacts have been sourced or if they willingly opted into your campaigns.  It’s your responsibility to make sure that you can legally hold their details.

This most commonly occurs when you either bulk import contacts or sales team members individually add contacts to your address books. If you send unsolicited emails to these contacts, you expose yourself to complaints from anti-spam authorities. This could mean they blacklist you. 

Single Opt in

A single opt in type means that new subscribers are added to your list as soon as they complete your subscribe form. When someone signs up through a subscribe form, their email address is automatically added to your list without any extra steps. They weren’t asked to confirm their email address.

We don’t recommend single opt in because anyone could opt into your campaigns on behalf of a contact. As a result, you could send unsolicited emails to these contacts and risk spam complaints.

Double Opt in

A double opt in type, also known as a verified opt in, means that, before contacts can receive your campaigns, they must click a link in a confirmation email that you send them after they opt in. When contacts click this link, you know that their email address is correct and they have confirmed their intent to subscribe.

This approach is best practice for adding contacts to your address books. If you receive any unfair spam complaints, verified double opt in gives you proof that a contact opted in. This is held in your email marketing tool. If contacts complain or query their subscription, you can go to the ‘Manage contact’ page to find their last subscribed date, as well as their opt in type. This will vary for each email tool, so please check with your system provider.

It’s also a good idea to customise your confirmation page to ensure the customer journey reflects your brand.

Soft Opt in

A ‘soft opt-in’ is typically related to existing customers. A soft opt-in assumes that if they bought something from you recently, gave you their details, and did not opt out of marketing messages, they are probably happy to receive marketing from you about similar products or services, even if they haven’t specifically consented. However, you must have given them a clear chance to opt out – both when you first collected their details, and in every message you send.

Take action and prepare for GDPR

If you are unsure which type of permission you are getting for your email marketing lists, start by checking your CRM and your Email marketing tool settings.  We know this may seem like a great deal of work, but it’s actually a huge opportunity to re-engage with your contacts and build trust. If you require any assistance, take a look at the support we can offer.  Download our Marketer’s Action Plan for GDPR Compliance and book a space on our GDPR Compliance for marketers workshop 

About Kim Moore

Kim Moore is a Marketing Strategist at KG Moore Limited, a Colchester, UK-based agency that offers outsourced strategic marketing management services. Kim has developed her strategic thinking and marketing management capabilities over the past 20 years managing marketing functions in the IT and telecoms sector, including years at Vodafone. She is known for developing successful Partner Marketing Relationships with a number of organisations including Verizon Wireless and American Express. Connect with Kim for her infinite supply of marketing knowledge, ideas, insight and innovation.

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