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What is a Marketing Opt-In Form?

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Effective email marketing campaigns can be crucial for business growth and customer engagement. However, the engagement of marketing campaigns requires strict compliance with legal rules governing email marketing practices. Organisations must obtain consent to send marketing emails to specific recipients as a critical rule. A fundamental way to get consent is to ask recipients to complete a marketing opt-in form. Opt-in forms allow a business to provide evidence that individuals have given explicit permission to receive marketing emails from them. This article will explore the background to obtaining consent and what a marketing opt-in form is from an email marketing perspective. 

Which Laws Apply to Email Marketing?

Navigating the rules regarding marketing emails requires understanding the legal framework governing their use. Marketing emails can include various messages promoting your products, services, or business culture. If your business intends to market to email addresses, strict adherence to legal rules is vital. This involves compliance with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) when processing personal data and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) governing electronic communications.

Determining whether your business needs consent to send marketing emails centres on the recipients targeted by your campaigns. 

While sending marketing emails to specific customer categories necessitates obtaining consent, exceptions may apply to others. 

The PECR sets distinct rules for sending electronic communications, distinguishing between ‘Individual Subscribers’ and ‘Corporate Subscribers,’ each subject to different rules.

Generally, consent is necessary when sending marketing emails to Individual Subscribers, which include consumers, sole traders, and non-incorporated partners. Obtaining valid consent requires stringent criteria, including the fact that it must be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous.

However, an exemption known as the ‘soft opt-in’ allows businesses to send marketing emails to Individual Subscribers if they meet specific criteria.

You can rely on the soft opt-in exemption if your business:

  • attained the contact details of an individual during a sale (or negotiations for a sale) of a product or service to them;
  • intends to send marketing emails about your similar products or services; and
  • gives the individual a simple chance to refuse or opt out of the marketing, both when first collecting details and in every marketing communication following that.

Sending emails to Corporate Subscribers, such as limited companies, limited liability partnerships, and corporate bodies, does not require obtaining consent from the recipients. However, recipients must always have the option to unsubscribe from further communications. Additionally, transparency regarding your business identity is vital, ensuring recipients are fully aware of who your business is when they receive marketing emails from you. 

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What is a Marketing Opt-In Form?

Marketing opt-in forms are relevant when a business relies upon consent to send marketing emails. 

You must evidence consent to send marketing emails through clear and unmistakable affirmative action, such as ticking a box, clicking an icon, or sending an email. It is crucial that the individual fully comprehends that they are granting consent to receive marketing emails from your business. Merely including information about marketing within a complex privacy policy, for example, will not constitute valid consent. Failure to meet these strict requirements could invalidate any consent you have obtained.

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A marketing opt-in form is a standard tool for email marketing. Through this form, businesses can obtain explicit permission from individuals to send them marketing emails. This form usually includes clear language explaining the purpose of the consent, such as receiving promotional emails. It allows recipients to actively opt-in by, for example, checking a box. 

As a practical example, you may find a marketing opt-in form on a company’s landing page when signing up for its website. When browsing or signing up, potential subscribers will be prompted with a form that they can fill out to confirm their marketing communications preferences. 

What Key Points Should I Note About Opt-in Form Use?

Consent opt-in forms must follow the PECR requirements, ensuring specific, informed, and unambiguous consent. Furthermore, businesses must maintain records of consent obtained through these forms and provide recipients with easy methods to unsubscribe from further marketing emails.

To comply with legal rules, your email opt-in forms must be written in clear and understandable language, ensuring accessibility for all users.

If you request consent as part of a broader form, it must be distinctly separate and easily identifiable by the individual rather than buried among other terms or conditions. 

Consent forms should include various information including but not limited to:

  • your company name
  • opt-in boxes are available for recipients to agree to receive email communications actively. For instance, boxes stating ‘tick here if you would like to receive email offers from us’; and
  • a straightforward statement on how individuals can revoke consent.

Many companies get this wrong, but opt-in forms must be legally accurate and contain all the information necessary for valid consent. You should seek legal advice if you require assistance drafting a compliant opt-in form. 

In addition to observing legal requirements, email marketing opt-in forms are crucial in establishing trust and transparency with individuals. Spam complaints for unsolicited emails can be highly damaging to a business; therefore, effective opt-in forms can help prevent them.

Having a well-drafted and compliant opt-in form can show your company takes the privacy and preferences of individuals seriously and gives them a free choice around marketing communications. It can also help your business monitor its opt-in rate and how potential customers are engaging with your marketing campaigns. 

Key Takeaways

Under the PECR rules, organisations must obtain valid consent to send marketing emails to specific recipients. A common way to get consent is to provide individuals with marketing opt-in forms. 

Marketing opt-in forms should be obtained correctly and must include various critical information. Transparent and compliant marketing opt-in forms can help demonstrate compliance with legal rules and help individuals make informed decisions about whether to receive marketing emails from your business. 

If you need legal advice on email marketing campaigns, LegalVision’s experienced eCommerce lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.

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Sej Lamba

Sej Lamba

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