Opt-in

The opt-in method forms the basis for operating legally compliant email and omnichannel marketing campaignsEpiserver Campaign is a professional email marketing software solution that creates, sends, and evaluates mailings.. An opt-in method requires recipients to give a sender explicit permission to send them advertising mails. For this, the recipient:

  • actively agrees to receiving advertising emails by, for example, ticking a box, or
  • separately states that this acceptance relates solely to the receipt of advertising emails, or
  • agrees to a declaration that clearly defines the scope (Who is the advertiser? What is being advertised? How often?).

This topic provides you with detailed information about the opt-in procedure and the double opt-inA practice in which a recipient consents to receiving email from the sender before any promotional email is sent. Recipients receive an email with a double opt-in link, which they must click to confirm their interest. to ensure you have evidence that permission was given.

Note:  The following information is not legally binding.

Legal basis

In accordance with paragraph 7, section 2 UWG (the German Unfair Competition Act), sending advertising emails to consumers without their prior express consent to receive such email is considered to be an unreasonable nuisance. If an advertiser contacts a consumer without consent, then this is considered unfair competition.

To protect consumers from receiving unwanted email (spam), legally compliant email and omnichannel marketing is based upon permissions. The sender requires the end consumer’s consent to receive emails (for example, newsletters).

If a recipient has given their permission via an opt-in method, then the sender has valid proof of consent in the event of a complaint by the recipient.

Should legal action arise, the opt-in must be demonstrable in a court of law. Precise version management of the opt-in processes is advisable for use in practice.

Exceptions

Transactional mails do not generally require an opt-in. For example, registration and order confirmation emails may be sent without an opt-in. However, such transactional mailsA transactional mail is an email triggered by a recipient action (such as an order or purchase) or event (such as an anniversary). It is sent out subsequent to the event. must not contain any additional advertising.

Omnichannel marketing: Separate opt-ins

In accordance with mandatory documentation requirements of data protection legislation, ensure that you collect and record a separate opt-in for each advertising medium (telephone, text message, email, etc.).

The opt-in text must exclusively see consent for sending promotional material and – as opposed to generic "general consent" for types of advertising – the text must precisely describe the promotional materials. For example, you should differentiate between a regular newsletter and a reminder message that is sent when a customer does not respond to an offer.

Validity of the permission

An opt-in may expire as established by current case law. This will generally be the case if you do not contact a recipient for over one year. The previously given consent will no longer apply if you begin contacting the recipient again after this period.

To prevent opt-ins from expiring, you should regularly contact your recipients.

Opt-in method types

  • Double opt-in method

    Note:  Episerver recommends the use of this opt-in method.

    The double opt-in method is a procedure in which the end user consents to receiving emails from the sender before any promotional emails are sent. Recipients receive an email with a double opt-in link which they have to click to confirm their newsletter registration.

    Their addresses are only added to the recipient list after they click the link. This method is intended to ensure that end users are not signed up for services against their will by third parties. This not only aggravates the end users but they also have to tediously unsubscribe from the services.

    Reasons to useEpiserver Campaign to manage double opt-ins

    • The entire process is managed from a single source.
    • Almost the entire subscription process can be managed by a single system.

    By comparison, managing the process using an external system requires recipient data to be synchronized and/or imported prior to every dispatch, which is a lot more work.

  • Single opt-in method

    Warning:  Episerver does not recommend the use of this opt-in method.

    Using the single opt-in method, an end user agrees to receive emails from the sender. Their email address is then entered into the recipient list. Unlike the double opt-in method, confirmation links are not sent. From a legal standpoint, the single opt-in method is not recommended because it cannot be assumed that recipients have entered their email addresses into the recipient list themselves.

  • Confirmed opt-in method

    Warning:  Episerver does not recommend the use of this opt-in method.

    In the confirmed opt-in, an end user agrees to receive emails from the sender. The recipient then receives an email confirming that their data is recorded and that they will receive newsletters by email. This method suffers the same problems as the single opt-in method, except that the recipients are now directly informed about the fact that their data is entered into a recipient list.

Implementing the double opt-in method with Episerver Campaign

Setup

If you want to use the double opt-in method, contact customer support who will set up the opt-in process and create the respective confirmation-mailing which contains information about the subscription. You can adapt this mailing as you like and it must include the double opt-in link (using the field function {Double-Opt-In-Link}). This link refers to the confirmation page which is either provided by Episerver or hosted by you.

Adapting your website

In the next step, you update your website so that the opt-in process you have set up is initiated when a new recipient subscribes to the newsletter using the form. You can set up the connection using the add2 or addAll3 methods using the SOAP API or using the subscribe operation in the HTTP API (the opt-in process IDs required for this are available in the API overview).

Examples

  1. Newsletter subscription
  2. Confirmation email
  3. Confirmation

Image: Newsletter subscription

Image: Confirmation email

Image: Confirmation

Frequently asked questions about the double-opt-in method

1. How do I explain the additional steps to new subscribers when they sign up for the newsletter?

  • Information. When they have entered their information, clearly inform new subscribers that an additional step is required to activate the newsletter subscription ("We have added your email address to our list. To activate ... "). Explain why this step is necessary. for example, "to prevent other people from subscribing using your email address" or "to validate your email address".
  • Link. Instruct your recipients to activate their subscription after entering their information. If possible, provide a link to their mailbox for activating the subscription. You can use the domain parts of the email address to determine which email provider the recipient is using and to create a link to the specific service. Example: If the new subscriber has an xxxx@example.com address, then you can display a "Go to my email inbox" link that takes them to the login page at www.example.com.
  • When to send the confirmation email. You should send the confirmation email when possible after the sign up so that it can be activated quickly. The recipient may otherwise forget the reason for the confirmation email or lose interest in the newsletter.

2. What should I be aware of when setting up the activation email?

  • Subject. Ensure that your activation email has a meaningful subject line that directly prompts the user to take action. for example, "Please confirm your email address".
  • Sender.The sender name is often the first thing that a person sees and should be recognizable. You should use a consistent sender name for emails, including the activation email. Give your potential subscriber an option to reply to the activation email (avoid using a noreply@...email address).
  • Presentation. The activation email should avoid using large blocks of text and complicated layouts. You recipient needs to click the confirmation link in the activation email. Help them to do this by providing concise and accurate instructions along with a clearly visible confirmation link.
  • Spam suspicion. Inform new subscribers that emails from new and previously unknown senders may land in their spam/junk mail or unknown mail folders. If the recipient cannot find the confirmation email, they should check these folders.

3. What problems can arise when using the confirmation link in an activation email?

  • Short length. Make sure that the confirmation link is not too long. Otherwise there is a danger that it may get broken across two lines and no longer works. In case this happens, you should offer a solution to your subscribers, for example, provide instructions such as "If the link does not work, copy both lines into the address bar of your browser." You should further ensure that the confirmation link stands out from the other text in the message, even where the email preview area is small.
  • Correct link. A further potential source of problems is a confirmation link that does not work. This can happen if the link contains a special character that causes Outlook or Thunderbird to incorrectly highlight it and thus send the user to a blank page. Another frequent cause of link problems is forgetting to properly use the HTML anchor tag. You should check that the confirmation link is correct.

4. How can I avoid any possible problems with the sign up process?

  • Address book entry. Tell new subscribers to add your email sender address to their personal address book or list of secure senders. You can say something like "To ensure that you receive our newsletter...". This will ideally be supplemented with a link to instructions for common email programs and webmail providers to help with this step. You can also provide a vCard that can be used with some email programs to add your contact data to the address book with a single mouse click.
  • Help / contact options. Give the user options for providing feedback or contacting you (email address, chat, free phone number, "not working" button) in case of any unforeseen problems with registration or confirmation. This can also turn out to be an important feedback channel for identifying problems or areas for improvement in the process. An even more elegant solution would be to provide contact information for a personal adviser or customer support representative if this would be appropriate or possible.
  • Resending. Provide the recipient the option of having the activation email resent in the event that it has not arrived within the first few minutes or the recipient is unable to find it.