On the ICO website, it states:
In the past, it wasn’t too unusual to see a single statements on website forms saying that by submitting a form, customers were both accepting your T&Cs and agreeing to receive marketing communications.
This is not permissible under the GDPR as individuals need to consent separately to types of processing. Responding to a request to view a property with an email relating to that property is a ‘legitimate reason’ to contact the customer. However, sending ongoing emails about other properties that may be of interest requires a separate marketing consent – one that is clear, specific and positive.
To ensure consent is collected in line with the requirements of the GDPR, we’re adding tick boxes to all Homeflow website forms, which split out 3 different types of consent:
This ensures that you give individual (‘granular’ or ’unbundled’) options to consent separately to different purposes and types of processing.
The GDPR does not specify granularity of marketing consent – in fact some would argue that this could lead to unnecessarily complex marketing consent statements, which is contradictory to the requirement to make information notices clear and concise.
However, many estate agencies now operate, or may wish to consider, multiple separate mailing lists. You may have separate mailing lists for Vendors and one for Landlords for example.
If this is the case, should you offer multiple marketing consent options? How will this be managed on Homeflow websites?
This article will first look at how we’re changing the Homeflow consent process, so that you can choose either a single, high level marketing consent statement, or multiple consents for different marketing purposes.
Then we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each option for your agency.
Homeflow websites will be updated so that when a customer completes a form, they can consent to marketing communications by ticking a box. This cannot be pre-ticked – under the GDPR, consent needs to be active.
You can decide on the wording of the statement next to the marketing tick box and update this within your Homeflow Admin. We’ve used a basic statement in the example above: “Get the latest news and information on the local property market. You can unsubscribe at any time.”
Only the third tick box relating to T&Cs is mandatory. A customer is free to submit a form without consenting to marketing emails.
If a customer ticks the box indicating they would like to receive marketing emails, they will receive an email asking them to confirm their email address – what is known as a double opt-in process.
This way, you have indisputable proof that everyone on your list consented. Not only did they tick a box on the sign-up form, they also clicked a link and verified their consent to receive marketing communications.
On the confirmation email, the customer will see a full marketing statement next to the verification button. This will explain that by clicking the link, they are consenting to receive emails from you. As per the GDPR guidelines, this must use understandable, unambiguous language.
You can decide on the wording of this full statement and will be able to update it yourself in your Homeflow Admin. It can be the same as the statement on your website form, or give more detail on the consent that you are seeking and the type of communications that you will send.
Then, when a customer decides to ‘double opt-in’ by clicking on a verification link in an email, they are taken to a new page on your website. This page will be an ‘email preference centre’.
What they see in the email preference centre will depend on whether you’ve chosen a single marketing consent statement, or multiple marketing consents.
a. Single marketing consent statement
If you decide to keep things simple with a single marketing consent statement, this page will simply say:
“Thank you for verifying your email address. You can update your preferences any time.”
There will be a check box to receive all emails and a checkbox to opt out of all emails (unsubscribe).
b. Multiple marketing consent statements
If you would rather maintain multiple email newsletter lists, when the customer clicks on the verification page to go to their email preference page on your website, the page will offer more options:
“Thank you for verifying your email address. You can choose which emails you’d like to receive below.”
The customer will see a checkbox for each of your email lists, plus a check box to opt out of all emails (unsubscribe).
a. Single marketing consent statement
If you’ve chosen a single marketing consent statement, you can add customers to your overall marketing list and send them any communications covered by the statement you have chosen.
b. Multiple marketing consent statements
If you’ve chosen multiple consents, you will need to add customers to the appropriate marketing list(s) and only send them the communications that they have opted to receive.
Either way, if a customer changes their mind later, they can opt-out of particular types of email, or unsubscribe, using the same email preference page.
There will be a link to this ‘email preferences’ page from the bottom of all Homeflow emails, or you can share the URL directly with your customers.
We considered this as an option, but believe it would quickly get untidy and confusing and potentially deter customers from submitting their query.
This process enables a customer to choose their consent preferences as part of the double opt-in process.
This depends largely on the size of your customer base and the variety of emails you send to them.
If you have a large email list and would like to segment it, multiple consent statements may be the best option. This is especially true if you’re sending more than one email per week.
If you have a smaller email list, a single consent statement could well be more appropriate. This may also be the case if you send infrequent emails.
Neither is ‘better’ – it all depends on what suits you and your customers.
Most estate agencies currently use a single marketing consent statement because it’s easier to manage. If you have a small email list of customers with similar interests, segmentation might be unnecessary. You may also find that multiple consent statements are confusing for your customers.
The downside is that a single consent statement makes it harder to segment your list. Not all the emails you send will be relevant to everyone, meaning customers may be more likely to unsubscribe. Customers may even flag your emails as spam.
If you wish to use your customers’ details in a new way in the future, and this is not covered by the marketing consent statement you have chosen, you may need to get your entire email list to opt-in again.
These days, we’re all bombarded with emails. Few people have the patience for irrelevant or too frequent marketing- the two most common reasons for unsubscription. A contact preference centre gives your customers control of their inboxes. It’s an obvious way to show that you care about their privacy and are committed to complying with the GDPR.
If you decide to use your customers’ details for a new purpose, you won’t need to re-opt-in your entire database, you’ll simply need to add a new consent option to your email preference centre and encourage existing customers to opt in to the new list.
The downside is that managing a segmented list takes more time and resources. You’ll need to run different campaigns for each segment and ensure that you only send relevant emails to each customer list.
It’s possible that your list will grow at a slower rate than before, as not everyone will opt-in to all marketing emails. But you may judge that engagement is more important than numbers. It might be better for your agency to have a smaller email list of people who all want to hear from you, than a larger, less unengaged list.
It’s up to you to decide what you want your consent statement to say, both on your website forms and on your verification emails.
You can choose how many consent options to offer and how you would like to word the descriptions for each. Initially, you may decide to keep things simple whilst you decide how you would like to segment your email list in the longer term.
It’s best practice to use simple, clear language in your consent statements, so that all customers can understand your statements and give informed consent.
You’ll be able to log into the Homeflow Admin to put your preferences in place. We’ll send all Homeflow clients a step-by-step guide on how to do this before the GDPR deadline.
If you’re thinking about how to manage your marketing processes post-GDPR, you may also be interested in registering for updates on Homeflow’s new Marketing Automation service. This service is still in development, but will integrate a market-leading email automation tool with your Homeflow website. This will take the hassle out of running email campaigns by automating both the opt-in process and the emails sent to different customer segments. Just get in touch if you’d like to know more.
The next article in this GDPR series will discuss ways in which you may be able to double opt-in your existing email list, including ideas for running a re-permission campaign. Be sure to sign-up below to get the information you need to prepare for the GDPR delivered straight to your inbox.
Legal disclaimer: This article has not been prepared by a lawyer, and does not in any way constitute legal advice. This has been prepared to explain Homeflow’s current understanding of the implications of GDPR on our business, our clients and our services.