Email Opt Ins – How to Get Maximum Sign Ups and Stay on the Right Side of the ICO

The ICO (Information Commissioners Office) has recently published updated guidelines on the requirements to email legitimately.

You can download the full update here, but read on for how you should set up your email sign ups to gain the maximum signups whilst avoiding the potential £500,000 breach fine.

Key Points from the Guide

  1. “Electronic Mail” includes email, SMS, voicemail messages, picture messages, and video messages.
    So we’re not just talking about emails.
  2. For each type of communication you need a separate hard opt in or a soft opt in. So a customer must opt in to both SMS and email to receive both.
  3. “Soft Opt Ins” (regulation 22(3)) – means you can send communications if you got the contact details during the sale/negotiation process. The material you are sending relates to similar products and services from you only. The recipient can easily and for free (except cost of transmission) opt out at the point you collected the data AND each time they receive a message.
  4. “Hard Opt Ins” – is when someone hasn’t bought, but has specifically requested the communications. They’ve signed up to your newsletter, or requested a download. So be careful if you’re offering a download that you make it clear they’re signing up to other emails as well – otherwise you can’t send them anything else.

How should you collect email addresses and SMS numbers?

Essentially ‘Soft Opt In’ relates to our best data – our buyers, so let’s tackle that first.

When someone enters their email in the buying process (the checkout or cart) you need to make sure:

  • There is a opt out box they can choose to tick
  • It’s clear that when they enter their email address they are going to get marketing emails from you
  • It’s clear that you need their email address to send them service messages – such as order confirmations and parcel tracking information

For the ‘Hard Opt In’ – our enquirers, who fill in a competition, or an email sign up we need to pretty much do the same thing. However, here we can:

  • Leave our the opt out box – just make it clear that by giving their email address they are opting in to receive your marketing communications
  • Make sure it’s clear that they are going to get multiple communications – not just one email to confirm they entered the prize draw

And of course – On every communication you send them (excluding the service ones) you need to include an unsubscribe link.

Email data protection isn’t as complicated as people think!

What do you use on your email sign ups?