In the marketing business this is known as opt-in. If you’re going to send information about your business to people, you must have permission. That means your contacts must have actively agreed to receive information from you.
The various online platforms that specialise in data management, like MailChimp, AWeber, Infusionsoft, GetReponse, ConstantContact and others – offer either single opt-in or double opt-in. With single opt-in you can put a name and email address on your list without the owner’s permission. With double opt-in they won’t go on your list until they’ve responded to an email telling them they’re on your list and verified that they want to receive information.
This means that, if you have people on your lists that have not actively opted-in, you need to start cleaning your lists now, to ensure you are compliant when the GDPR legislation takes effect in May 2018.
According to the terms of the new GDPR legislation all your contacts must have actively opted-in to receive information from you – and you’ll need to provide evidence of that.
Clearly you cannot deal with customers if they have opted out of email communications. Technically, if a customer has unsubscribed from a mailing list held on one of the online platforms (such as those mentioned above), they have unsubscribed from getting any communications from your email address.
To ensure that you can continue to communicate with them about ongoing business, you may want to advise your customers of how their data is stored and what kind of information they will receive in addition to that which is directly about the work you’re doing with them. If you ask them to confirm they’re happy with that, you’ll have the necessary evidence, particularly if the current work comes to an end and they’re still on your database.
What counts as opting in?
If someone has been on your mailing list for a while, but hasn’t actively opted in. The fact that they haven’t unsubscribed does not constitute opting-in.
If you have a box that says ‘please tick here if you don’t want to hear from us’ on your website – that doesn’t cover opting-in either. The box would have to say ‘Please tick here if you’re happy to receive marketing information from us’ requiring the person to take positive action.
Just because someone has not unsubscribed from your newsletter, does not count as opting in. If they haven’t gone through a double opt-in process they should be removed from you list.
If you’ve been building lists for years this may be a big job to tackle, but one it’s best to start on as soon as possible, to give people plenty of time to respond.
If you’d like help or advice about the most secure and compliant ways to store your data, please call us on 01376 653115.