YES you can use an opt-out instead of an opt-in!

Those of you who know me, will also know that I’ve been on a bit of a crusade to dispel the many GDPR myths that are out there (you should email your database to ask them to opt-in, you have to ask for a third party opt-in to send your sponsor messages, you must get profiling consent to email in segments….the list goes on…..). But the reason for my soap box moment right now is not to contradict a message but to deliver one. As loudly as I possibly can.

For some reason – and I don’t know what it is – most of us are focusing on GDPR consent as a way to engage with our fans and stakeholders and we’re forgetting that’s not the only framework we can use. There’s also the PECR soft opt-in (that’s the name in the UK, I’ve also heard it called the b2c opt-out) and it’s a pretty powerful tool.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations have been around a long time but haven’t had half the airtime of the GDPR so this beautiful little nugget of an opportunity called the soft opt-in has largely gone unnoticed by many rights owners (indeed, many retailers.) You can read more about it here, go to page 40.

So what is the soft opt-in?

Well, in layman’s terms if you acquire someone’s email address in the process of a financial transaction (e.g. online store purchase, ticket sale, stadium tour booking, etc.) you don’t have to ask them to opt-in, you can instead ask them to opt-out. You still need to use clear and concise language, as with GDPR consent, but the aim is to encourage your fans not to tick. Something that might be easier to do than asking them to tick.

But here’s the caveat – and it’s a very important one.

The regulations state that while you can continue to send marketing messages – so long as you’ve provided an opt-out at point of entry (and of course an unsubscribe option in subsequent emails) – they must be in relation to “similar products and services” to those your customers have already purchased from you.

Now that’s the bit of grey we keep talking about in this world where laws and regulations are often black or white – what does similar mean? I’ve met lawyers who think that if you sell someone a ticket you can only sell them more tickets. But that’s not “similar” to me – I see that as very much the same. And I’ve also met lawyers – ones that I tend to side with – that propose if a fan buys a ticket to watch his favourite team, then a replica shirt of that favourite team, a chance to visit the home of that favourite team, a chance to train under the brand of that favourite team, could also be considered similar.

Is it worth it?

OK so one rights owner I recently met with told me their opt-in conversion rate was 90% so I suggested he should stick with the process he’s using – anyone achieving 90% has obviously got some secret sauce going on. But one of our own clients is experiencing something quite different. Using GDPR consent with a purchase they were achieving a 34% average CVR – when we flipped them over to the PECR soft opt-in across a number of products we achieved the equivalent of 67% to 80%.

The email engagement level among the fans who came to us via PECR is the same as the fans who previously ticked to opt-in….but of course we’re now acquiring new contactable fans at a much faster rate than previously.

Why aren’t more rights owners using this opt-in?

I really don’t know the answer to that one. When I first raised it over three years ago with a then-client they said they thought PECR would change when GDPR came in. Of course it didn’t and while the PECR is due to be updated and so the soft opt-in could indeed be affected, it might take a few years for that change to come: how much faster could you grow your database between now and then?

And the award for best use of the PECR soft opt-in goes to…..

When I look for examples of best practise, admittedly I rarely look to the sports industry – I look to those pure-play businesses that were born in the digital age, for whom data and digital has to be done correctly and at the highest level because 100% of their business relies on it – and this one really is my favourite example of the PECR soft opt-in.

YES you can use an opt-out instead of an opt-in! Winners FDD

Thanks to for making me smile. Looking at the left hand side first, check out the wording next to the pre-ticked box that appeared in the middle of my transaction (1). Then take a look at the wording on the right (2). Can you see the difference?  I went to untick the pre-ticked opt-in box and the wording changed – it was worth a £5 discount to bloomandwild to entice me to leave the box ticked.

And so I did.

If you’d like to know more about optimizing your data growth rate please get in touch. We’d love to help you.

P.S. There’s also the GDPR Legitimate Interest – watch out for that post later on.