The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Spring 2018 strengthened data protection rules in the European Union, giving individuals more control over their personal data.
The most important component of the policy’s mandate is making sure you have explicit consent from your contacts to communicate with them. A well-designed subscription center makes it easy for your contacts to understand all of the possible marketing communication channels they can receive from your organization — with a clear and easy way to opt-out from one or all methods of communication.
Over the years, DemandGen has put together the following subscription center best practices to help ensure that marketing teams are doing all they can to protect data privacy — while providing the best customer experience possible.
IDENTITY VERIFICATION & CONSENT
- Implement a double opt-in process.
The most efficient way to validate consent is through a double opt-in process when adding a new contact to your marketing database. This double opt-in process should be integrated with all your marketing forms. Any contact in your database who has not been explicitly opted-in should be excluded from all future mailings regardless of how long they have been in your database.
While a double opt-in process is not directly tied to the Subscription Center, you should have a double opt-in process in place if you send emails to the European Union, Australia, or New Zealand. (Canada does not require double opt-in, but some choose to add it as well as other countries to the list as a good business practice.)
- Make email addresses read-only.
Changing an email address will create a new contact in your MA platform and CRM, losing all historical activity for that particular contact. Making the email address field read-only will ensure that contacts can only edit their personal information.
- Use a verification form.
This solves for contacts who want to use a different email address and when prepopulation does not occur correctly.
- Redirect unknown visitors to a personalized URL.
- Ask partners if they are GDPR-compliant.
If you are receiving a list of contacts from partners or tradeshow registrations, ask if they have received explicit consent to email them. At the very least, make sure Country has been captured so that double opt-in rules can be followed where required.
- Keep the Subscription Center design simple.
Since we don’t want contacts to get distracted and forget to submit their preferences, we recommend keeping the page design simple to keep prospects focused on why they came to the page in the first place. Limit navigation links, social links, promos/banner ads, and anything that would need to be updated over time. We also recommend a slimmed down header and footer for the same reason.
- Do not try to capture too much personal information.
The true intent of the Subscription Center is to let contacts manage their preferences. It’s fine to ask them to update their information, but keep fields to a minimum so as not overwhelm them.
- Don’t require additional information later on.
Most visitors to your Subscription Center are there to opt-out, unfortunately. Forcing them to update their information on their way to unsubscribing is not a good customer experience.
- Only create email groups where you have corresponding content to send.
Pinning down which email groups to make available to contacts can take a long time. Try not to follow your organization’s structure or business units; instead, focus on the content you have sent in the past and/or plan to send in the future.
- Include descriptions with all of your email group options.
A brief description will help contacts understand the type of content they will receive and hopefully entice them to subscribe instead of globally unsubscribing.
- Prefill contact’s email group status.
Showing a contact’s current subscription status (instead of showing all email groups as subscribed or unsubscribed) should hopefully lead to higher retention.
- Send an auto-response email for subscribes, but not for unsubscribes.
Presenting a contact with a thank you page that confirms they have been unsubscribed is sufficient. Sending another email to an unsubscribed contact makes them question if you understood their request, regardless of the content.
- Keep a log of subscribes and unsubscribes in a Custom Object.
A log of a contact’s submission will document their actions and serve as a useful tool, should litigation occur.
By incorporating these best practices into your subscription center, you’ll be well on your way to both GDPR compliance and an outstanding customer experience. Ready to take your subscription center to the next level (or build your first one)? Learn more about our Subscription Center Services.
Vince Farina, Senior Web Developer with DemandGen, has several years of experience setting up successful Webinar campaigns. He has worked with a multitude of different Webinar platforms, including GoToWebinar, WebEx, ON24, and ReadyTalk. He continues to help DemandGen clients plan and implement integrations with Eloqua and Webinar technologies, while providing advice on how to manage the nuances and challenges that each platform can present.