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Life Under GDPR: When and Where to Collect Consent

Type: Blog

Life Under GDPR: When and Where to Collect ConsentConsumers these days are smarter than ever. No one wants to give away more personal information than they have to. In the current climate of personal privacy, it’s getting harder and harder for companies to learn about their customers. But when approached correctly, customers will still engage in a dialogue. It’s up to marketers to learn the best practices of collecting consent to communicate with consumers.

Research demonstrates that consumers are willing to provide information when:

  • it is presented in context. For example: a prospect downloading a whitepaper from your site to do product research doesn’t want to answer a customer survey. They haven’t bought anything yet!
  • offers a clear benefit to them: if it protects their privacy, saves them time, or saves them money.
  • is easy to understand. The language you use should be short and sweet. It should be easy to see and easy to read, which leads us to the last recommendation:
  • and is an easy task for them to complete. Don’t make your customer work hard to submit the information. Don’t ask for a lot. The less time it takes them to submit it, the better.

This means that the customer journey usually decides the ideal “when and where” for collecting consent.

Structure the request from the customer’s perspective. Asking for information at moments that matter improves the odds of receiving their consent. Once you have their permission, you can collect, store and use their customer data at a later time. For example, asking for permission to send communications related to product updates during the registration process. That’s relevant to that part of their customer journey and likely to elicit a “yes” when you ask for their consent.

Collecting the customers’ preferences (their likes and dislikes) enables a dialogue.

Ideally, you want conversations that are beneficial to both of you, over the lifespan of the relationship. You want to give them information that will help them make another purchase. They want to learn something useful at the right time, without feeling annoyed. But to have these mutually beneficial conversations, they need to provide you information. Asking the customer for their preferences is the essential key to maintaining consent. A good strategy is to not ask for everything at one time. Like we mentioned above: keep it short and simple, and easy to complete. Identify all the potential customer data that you could use to improve the customer relationship. Now, consider breaking that collection up over time. Again, think about it like a dialogue. It’s an ongoing conversation.

A good rule of thumb is to understand why you are asking for customer information in the first place.

This helps align compliance with customer experience. This simple exercise of identifying the “why” behind the collection is very helpful. It assists in overall decision-making about the logical right time to collect customer data. Think back to the example above, with the prospect who is doing product research and downloaded your whitepaper. Why would you prompt them with a customer survey right now? That type of information would be best collected after a sale, to find out if the customer was satisfied.

To do this, create a communications matrix that clearly identifies all communications types, frequencies, modes of access and means of consent. That sounds complex, so here’s a sample:

Customer Facing Content

Once you see it laid out, you can see that it would be easy to have overlap. Especially with global enterprises, things can be siloed. Those separate entities need to be consolidated to clarify the individual purpose and timing of each request. Customers may get annoyed if they’re being contacted too often or by too many different departments.

How a consent request is presented typically takes one of two forms: spot or contextual.

Spot collection is a universal request. It’s absent any personalized orientation. An example would be a pop-up on a website homepage that all visitors see. Contextual collection is a request tied to a relevant personal activity. That could be an account registration, product research, or a service request.

Spot collection adds value in a broader engagement strategy. However, contextual collection delivers the best results. To put it another way, spot collection is offered in prominent places and available any time. Contextual collection is tied to the customer journey. Ideally, that’s part of an escalating demonstration of trust and value. It offers the best opportunity to earn consent. Done correctly, it enhances the likelihood to maintain that consent over time.

Remember, your main goal is to establish a dialogue. You want a conversation between you and your customer.

You’d like it to be productive and helpful to both of you, so you can sell them something else. And they want to do business with a company they trust and respect to always give them something of value. Mutually beneficial communication: that’s your goal.


Eric Tejeda

Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOW and CompliancePoint. Eric supports the organization’s growth objectives by productizing and launching innovative new products and services that fill critical needs in the marketplace.  

With 25 years of experience, Eric firmly believes that permission-based marketing and preference management is a mega trend and the path to success for marketers today. 
Follow me on Twitter: @EricTejeda | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Tejeda


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