Let’s talk about consent
Let’s take a step back and talk about consent under the GDPR. It’s when someone opted in to hear more from you. You will need to start using a clear and explicit opt-in on all your forms whether it’s an ebook download, a webinar registration or, yes, a contact us if you plan to contact the person completing the form with any additional marketing information.
Did you notice the keyword in that last sentence? Additional. This means when someone completes the form and has handed over a digital currency (aka their data) they expect to receive in return what you have promised, nothing more.
It’s important to have a clear and explicit opt-in. This means that you can’t bamboozle people with wording that is unclear to them. Be sure your target audience can understand what they opt in to. If you plan to email people, then note this in your opt-in and be specific on what you plan to send them. A nice add on is to mention that they can opt-out at any time and ideally you want to link to your privacy statement. This allows people to read up on how their data will be stored, for how long and more detail on what you plan to do with it.
Let’s head back to your “contact us” form and even expand this to demo requests, free consultations and other forms that are clearly completed because the person doing so wants to be contacted by your company.
In our opinion (*disclaimer: we are not legal experts and as cases based on GDPR will be decided after May 25th 2018 this may change), it is reasonable to assume that if someone willingly provides you with their contact details that they are okay with you storing their data and for you to contact them based on this request. For us, it ends there.
The person by filling out your contact us has not consented to receive marketing emails from you. Their reasonable expectation is that they will be contacted on a one-on-one basis to discuss whatever it is they contacted you about. After that, this conversation may evolve but at no point have they agreed to receive marketing emails like newsletters or promotional offers.
Adding consent to “contact us”
So then what happens if you responded to a contact request and the conversation ended there? Perhaps the person isn’t ready to buy just yet. Of course, you may stay in touch within reasonable expectation on a one-on-one basis but that’s not really scalable. Also, is that not the job of your awesome inbound lead nurturing strategy?
Your hands are tied if this contact didn’t give you consent to market to them by opting in. You’re simply not compliant if you still send this contact marketing email. You are left with two options:
1. Gain consent after the event.
This would involve you sending the contact in one of your direct communications with them to a landing page to download perhaps an ebook and complete an opt-in there. Or receiving written consent in an email that you can then screenshot and store in their file. While certainly an option, it’s a tougher route and more work on your end.
2. Gain consent before the event.
Simply add a clear and explicit opt-in to your contact us, demo, consultation etc. pages and get consent out of the way right from the start. Communicate with the lead one-on-one regarding the contact query and that they consent to receive relevant marketing materials sent by you.