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Is omni-channel marketing opt-in legal?

December 29, 2022
3 min
Is omni-channel marketing opt-in legal?

When you're a small or medium-sized business, you're probably on the lookout for ways to promote your business online and offline. Whether you're using SMS marketing, email marketing, or WhatsApp marketing, staying GDPR compliant begins by obtaining marketing consent.

GDPR: What is it and why does it matter?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates the use of SMS for commercial purposes in the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU). It safeguards the personal data of those living in the UK and the EU with the toughest privacy and security laws in the world. In 2018, the UK also translated the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) into UK law under the Data Protection Act 2018. As part of the UK-GDPR, businesses must allow consumers to express explicit consent to receive promotional marketing messages.

Omni-channel marketing is the future

Providing consumers with a seamless experience through omni-channel marketing will be key for many businesses in the future. SMS marketing and Whatsapp marketing are powerful channels for brands to reach their consumers directly instead of old-school email marketing. They serve a wide variety of purposes, including brand awareness, community building, sales outreach, and retention. SMS marketing messages receive a higher read rate of 42% than email marketing messages with a read rate of 32%. Open rates for emails are 20%, which is much lower than that of marketing messages at 98%. It is becoming very common for email providers to place marketing emails in spam folders, so using a different marketing channel increases your chances of reaching prospects.

Getting marketing consent for different channels

A good way to collect marketing consent is through opt-ins, but there are stringent specifications to follow. Collecting marketing consent for different channels separately is the best way to ensure GDPR compliance.

If you’re an online retailer, offer your customers the option of getting text messages from you and collect their phone number in addition to their email while checking out. Alternatively, you could have a pop-up on your website inviting visitors to subscribe to marketing communications and offers.

Regardless of how you decide to request customer information, you should include separate tick boxes where customers can confirm consent to be contacted by email, SMS, Whatsapp, and any other channel you might use to communicate.

A clear affirmative action or opt-in is required in accordance with the UK GDPR's high standard for consent. Whilst there is a specific ban on opt-in boxes that are pre-ticked, it is unclear whether one box which explicitly says that the information provided will be used for marketing on multiple channels (including a list of the channels) - rather than separate boxes for each channel - would still be enough to ensure compliance.

We always recommend including separate checkboxes to be on the safe side. This can also work to your advantage because someone might want to opt-in for certain channels and not others, and if you hadn’t given them the option to choose which one(s), they wouldn't have given consent at all.

Besides getting your marketing consent for SMS marketing, email marketing, and WhatsApp marketing, be sure to include instructions on how subscribers can opt-out of marketing communications. Usually, emails contain an unsubscribe button, or users can respond to SMS texts or WhatsApp with "stop" or “unsubscribe".

To find out more on everything you need to do to ensure your SMS and WhatsApp marketing are GDPR compliant, check out this post.

Fuzey can help you kick-start your next SMS marketing campaign, all while remaining GDPR compliant.

To learn more, check out this blog post and book a demo via the form below!

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