The ‘Art and Science’ of GDPR Consent
You’ve seen it before: The long form you must sign before participating in a potentially dangerous activity, the checkbox at the bottom of an end-user agreement before you can use a new piece of software, the numerous documents that are part of every major financial purchase.
These arduous processes are developed by companies in response to a regulation, an issue or advice from a lawyer. Not surprisingly, organizations are responding similarly to growing regulatory concerns such as GDPR, ePrivacy and CCPA. In hopes of addressing the new regulations quickly and efficiently, enterprises err on the “science” side of consent collection, while ignoring the “art” of consent collection.
What Is the ‘Science’ of Consent Collection?
It's the technology, data and regulations surrounding such collection. These elements are well-defined, understood across industries, trackable, and can be readily reported both inside and outside the marketer.
While there's nothing inherently wrong with viewing consent this way, by only approaching preference and consent management scientifically, enterprises are only “checking the box” — i.e., doing the bare minimum to achieve a passing grade.
In European countries, for example, many companies are more mature in their view and further along on the timeline of allowing customers to provide consent. Organizations realize to get a bigger take rate on collecting consent, they must marry preference with consent management to offer an incentive.
By adding preferences to consent, marketers allow customers to be specific with the types of communications, the cadence and the mode that they receive such communications. This increased specificity is a building block for trust between companies and customers, ultimately establishing and bolstering long-term relationships.
To achieve the greatest return on investment for addressing mandatory compliance requirements, organizations should include a focus on the "art" of consent and preference management.
What Is the ‘Art’ of Consent and Preference Management?
Marketers must approach consent with the goal of empowering customer conversations. They can do so by focusing on deploying implementations that drive more granular preferences across business units, applications, products, communication channels and desired frequency.
Instead of requesting consent via one singular checkbox or a long comprehensive form, consent is spread thoughtfully through the customer journey. Consent and preferences are collected from the customer at points that are significant — e.g., during registration and when looking for new products.
After consent is collected and communications are received, organizations that think of consent in broader terms provide well-designed and tailored forms that allow customers to opt down from communications they're currently receiving. These forms should be easily accessible from any customer touchpoint.
Based on customer behavior, lack of engagement with outbound communications or customer-driven actions, companies may offer alternatives to current modes, frequency and types of communications. This prediction of a potential change in consent increases the likelihood of maintaining some level of consent for continued communications.
Privacy technology must be considered with industry-specific and problem-specific best practices. For example, a financial services company needs the ability to collect consent across multiple channels such as in-person interaction, while an online-only retail company does not. A one-size-fits-all approach will fall flat and ultimately negatively impact a company’s consent collection initiatives.
The best way to successfully combine the science with the art of consent and preference management is to review and evaluate implementations based on real-world use cases. Spend time on competitive websites, follow the “unsubscribe” link in emails, and study customer engagement best practices. Combining this research with an understanding of why your customers provide consent and how they benefit from doing so over their relationship with your company is the foundation for a winning approach.
Eric V. Holtzclaw is chief strategist of PossibleNOW, a provider of consumer regulatory compliance and consent solutions.
Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW, a provider of consumer regulatory compliance and consent solutions. He’s a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. Check out his book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior – Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide consent and preference management solutions.