[Interview] Marketing challenges & legal constraints in the collection of opt-in

Interview of Cécille Juillet, Legal Counsel from Groupe ConcoursMania and Arnaud Raquin, Product Owner – Feature Team LeadGen – from Actiplay


Advertisers have a common goal: to have ever-more qualified databases, populated and enriched regularly to conduct targeted and high-ROI marketing operations. In France, only proof of opt-in (by email and SMS) – an obligation imposed by its Data Privacy Act (LCEN) and the implementation recommendations issued by the data privacy authority (CNIL) – permits marketing messages to be sent to private individuals.

The opt-in rules

Opt-in consists of asking the user to give their prior consent to send them emails, SMS, MMS, or have their data sold (electronic address and phone number) to partners who may send them marketing offers. Opt’out consists of giving the user the possibility of refusing to receive marketing offers (by post or telephone). Simply put: opt-in requires explicit consent, opt-out permits implicit consent.

When collecting opt-ins, a distinction is drawn between two types of opt-ins: brand opt-in and partner opt-in. As the name indicates, “brand opt-in” consists of collecting for only a single brand. The brand can then recontact the customer via a newsletter, for example, with special offers, discount coupons, etc. “Partner opt-in” permits the brand to monetize its database and then rent, resell or lend it to its partners provided the subscriber or customer has ticked the consent box.

The different collection mechanisms

Two collection methods are mainly used to collect opt-ins: dedicated collection and pooled collection.

Intended for a single brand (via a landing page, contest, etc.), dedicated collection is higher quality because the advertiser is the central focus. In addition to a higher response rate, it offers the brand maximum visibility. When collecting, the brand can offer the internet user the possibility of receiving a promotional offer to get him to buy on its website. However, opt-in must not be subordinated to the purchase of a product or to the benefit of a reduction. The collection process can also simply be a matter of highlighting the advertiser’s concept or offers. It’s a must!

“Advertisers are constantly looking for ever-more qualified databases to be able to send their targets the most accurately tailored messages possible. This raises of course the problem of cost. Although it is often tempting to opt for high volumes and more-than-competitive pricing, the ROI turns out to be higher if the device used is designed to reach and collect only internet users with a marked interest and strong signals of intention. To put it simply: high volume may be cheaper, but you’re better off going for quality than quantity!”, Arnaud Raquin, Product Owner – Feature Team Leadgen.

The second mechanism refers to pooled collection, i.e., collecting through sponsoring or co-registration. The entities’ costs are grouped to minimise them. In this way, several brands pool their investment as well as their opt-in data. The main challenge will then be to ensure consistency between the brand and its partners so that the target is similar. This solution has numerous benefits: advantageous prices, fast collection, high volumes…

Although they operate differently, these collection methods are fundamentally similar: they collect opt-in contacts to be able to telemarket them by email or SMS. However, if the advertiser wants to communicate by phone, it has to comply with Bloctel rules. Bloctel is a telephone cold-calling block list to which any consumer can sign up free of charge to not be telemarketed by phone by a professional with whom he has no current contractual relationship. For any advertiser or any professional who wants to rent a file, it is a mandatory and expensive system. An advertiser who cold-calls a private individual who is on the Bloctel list, exposes itself to a €75,000 fine (pursuant to the “Hamon Law” which took effect June 2016).

“The provisions against phone telemarketing have formidable implications. Registration on this list is valid for three years and prohibits all calls from advertisers, with a few exceptions: calls to supply newspapers or for surveys, or if the person has unequivocally communicated his call-back number for a company’s product or service. However, in this latter case, the advertiser has to call the person back within three months. In this precise case [ed: as opposed to phone cold-calling], it is worth noting that the opt-out system turns out to be more stringent and restrictive than opt-in”, Cécile Juillet, Legal Counsel.

3 tips!

1/ Elicit an unequivocal desire
When collecting, insert a tick box allowing the person to be called back. Even if that person is on the Bloctel list, you can recontact them because they have manifested their consent explicitly. Note: you have three months to recontact them!

2/ Thank them by a welcome-email
Send a welcome-mail to your new subscribers to thank them, and advise them how frequently they will be receiving emails. This creates, immediately after registration, a welcoming and informative contact.

3/ Be interested in your internet user
Ask your internet user regularly about their favourite communication channel and don’t hesitate to ask them what type of content they would like to receive.

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