You should never take Consent for granted

GDPR made us consider Consent more… but we shouldn’t have needed the prod

“I’m just checking the contract… which treatment did I consent to again?”

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Jun 13, 2023

I’ve been thinking a lot about consent over the last few weeks.

I’m developing a new marketing framework and training program that will be launched very soon and I realised when doing it how important consent was as a step on the path that an avatar takes from not knowing you to thinking you’re the best thing ever.

A few years ago, when GDPR (yes it’s still a thing, and still being enforced) made us review our email marketing practices, consent was something that many of us had taken for granted.

We had a form, someone filled it in, and got our emails… and in that process, although consent mattered, it was just a step on the journey, we probably didn’t think about it too much.

GDPR made us think about consent much more than we’d ever done before, as it was classed as one of the 6 ways we could justify processing someone’s data (or in other words, send an email).

Suddenly, we were forced to take consent much more seriously, and in many instances, realised that we had no idea if someone had given consent when we were emailing them.

Many of us, because we’d not tracked it at all, went through a process of cleansing our email lists completely of those we had not provable consent.

Consent was something that now mattered a lot more.

…but if you think about it, consent is something that should always be important, and many of us had forgotten this.

Consent Matters

Putting GDPR aside, if you want to succeed at email marketing, then I’d suggest that consent is one of the key things you should always have at the forefront of your mind.

Consent is one of the most important aspects of GDPR compliance. It’s important for you as a business to make sure that you are getting explicit consent from your customers before sending them any promotional emails or other marketing materials.

Consent, when it’s given freely and with understanding, is the green light for your email marketing.

Of course, for email marketing, consent is never an open invitation to do whatever we want…

Unlike Al Pacino in Heat, Potential subscribers aren’t shouting, “Give Me All You Got”…

Consent is given based on what you say you’ll do with their email address.

Consent has conditions, which you set, and the other party agrees to.

It’s an unwritten contract between the two of you about what you’ll do, and it’s up to you to ensure you stick to the contract, otherwise, they can easily break it off (unsubscribe).

…but it’s not just one-sided, by consenting that you can use their email, they see value in doing just that – and therein lies something that is really important.

Let me explain…

Consent VS Non Consent

Consider sending a marketing email to two people, one who has not actively consented to receive marketing emails, and one who has.

What will be the outcome of you sending that email?

To the person who didn’t give consent…

  • … there is no relationship and so no reason for them to actively open and engage with it.
  • …in fact, it’s likely that they’ll say “I didn’t sign up for this”, and worry about how you actually got hold of their email, potentially thinking you did something bad.
  • …they are much more likely to delete it, mark it as spam, and complain, which will impact your future ability to hit the inbox for ALL emails.
  • …and that’s even if the email address actually exists – because you’ve not got proof that it does exist in the first place.

Let’s compare this to the person who did give consent…

  • …because they were told to expect the email when they gave consent, they’re much more likely to open and engage with it.
  • …as long as you hold ‘to the terms of the unwritten contract’, they’ll potentially be looking forward to your email.
  • …they’ll trust you more, because you’ve fulfilled your promise.
  • …it’s highly unlikely they’ll unsubscribe or complain… they agreed to it when they gave consent.
  • …and since you know they gave consent, you can be pretty sure that the email address is a valid and live one.
  • …and as they’ve consented, they’re more likely to open – which has a positive impact on your email deliverability.

Which situation do you want to be in?

Consent has tons of benefits 

Enhanced Engagement: Your subscribers have willingly opted in to your emails which means they are more likely to show genuine interest and engage with your content.
This equals higher open rates, click-through rates, and ultimately, improved conversion rates.

Improved Deliverability: When your subscribers actively engage with your emails, it positively affects your sender reputation. Major email providers such as Gmail and Yahoo use engagement metrics to determine whether they land in the inbox or get filtered into the spam folder. This means,your emails are more likely to reach the intended recipients’ inboxes, ensuring higher visibility and better chances of being read.

Adding a clear and prominent unsubscribe link in your emails can reduce the number of spam complaints and improve your sender reputation, leading to better deliverability rates.

Compliance with Regulations: Obtaining consent is not just a recommended best practice; it is often a legal requirement.

Personalisation and Relevance: Consent allows you to tailor your emails to specific subscriber preferences and interests. This information enables you to create more personalised and relevant content, ensuring that your emails resonate with your subscribers and meet their individual needs.

Consent makes us better Marketers

No matter how you put it, consent makes us better marketers and gives us more success.

It makes us “ethical”, marketers who are not only abiding by the legal situation but understand that by being ethical we’re more likely to succeed.

When you request consent from your subscribers, you show that you value their time and attention. This act of respecting their preferences not only builds trust but also lays the groundwork for cultivating stronger relationships.

By explicitly asking for consent and ensuring complete transparency regarding what they are consenting to, you provide clear signals to the recipients about your intentions.

This transparent approach establishes a foundation of trust and demonstrates your commitment to maintaining an open and honest relationship with your subscribers.

…and when they do make that positive choice of giving you consent, you only benefit from it.

Selling Consent

Now some of you may be thinking going down this route, stops you from selling the benefits of consent to the subscriber.

…but there’s no reason why, that as long as you are being ethical and transparent, you can’t sell consent.

What’s in it for them?… How, by giving consent, will their lives be easier/better/less painful?

Consent is a big part of the path that any Avatar takes on their journey from innocence to advocacy, from not knowing you exist to being your biggest fan.

So don’t be shy in explaining the benefits of consent… just make sure you’re clear and transparent about what they are consenting to

Consent is an essential step on the customer’s path 

Before GDPR, Consent may be something that many of us took for granted.

But the fact is, GDPR or not, it’s something that should NEVER be taken for granted.

Gaining consent is what I call “a moment of truth” in the building of relationships with customers.

It’s the specific moment when someone moves from an anonymous statistic on your Google Analytics, to be a real person, one who’s trusting you with their email address, and is saying “I give you permission to take this relationship to the next level”.

It’s potentially the second most important step on any customer’s journey from innocence to advocacy (after the transaction itself).

…and because of this, it’s something that we shouldn’t be abusing or taking for granted, or accepting it’s something we need to get just because of GDPR.

It’s actually one of the most important things we can ever receive from a customer.

Robin Adams

Robin Adams

Robin Adams is a business owner who is passionate about helping businesses build effective marketing systems that work and don't waste money. Having a lifetime of Marketing experience (he's got a degree in Marketing before there were degrees in Marketing!) and having worked for big and small businesses and both client and agency side, he understands not only the theory, but the systems that are required to underpin everything.
51% marketer and 49% Chimp, Robin is the main man behind and the Mailchimp Answers Facebook Group - the world's biggest Mailchimp User Group. Connect with him on Linkedin.

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