Hi All -
We have a handful of forms on our website that allow people to opt-in for future e-mail communications by checking a checkbox at the bottom of the form. If they check it, they get opted in, if not they don't. However, we've discovered that upon future form submissions (different form on the site), if someone who previously opted-in does not check the opt-in box on their next form submission, they then get opted-out as the checkbox returns a false reading in Marketo. We use server side form posts instead of Marketo forms as the form data needs to go elsewhere (we create user accounts in a different system) so I can't use progressive profiling to remove the opt-in checkbox on future forms if the prospect is already opted-in.
I'm curious how others are allowing their website visitors to opt-in - are you using check boxes, other types of form fields (like a yes/no drop down that doesn't require an answer), or are you simply opting everyone in who fills out a form and then allowing them to unsubscribe using the typical links in your e-mail footers? I thought the check box was a common practice but it doesn't work well in this specific application for the reasons I mentioned above.
Any feedback or alternate ideas would be appreciated.
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Guys, think I'm not being clear... my point is that because the form is incapable of knowing if the lead viewing it has opted in already, you have to default an Unsubscribed-linked checkbox to unchecked (on this we seem to agree).
And even though some leads might have turned out to have already opted in, it doesn't make sense for an unchecked box to have no meaning for previously opted-in leads, while being interpreted as Unsubscribed=true for new or previously opted-out leads. I feel it should have the same semantic meaning in all cases.
The problem is solved by never displaying a checkbox linked to the Unsubscribed field unless you have made a good-faith effort to Pre-fill it. In this case the form is not ready for prime time IMO!
Are you allowing pre-fill on that checkbox field? And/or setting the default value to "true"? Doing both of those should do a good amount to eliminate instances of "accidental" opt-out -- since a contact manually un-checking that field would seem to indicate a pretty sincere desire to out-out of future communications.
In most organizations I've been a part of, we've 'assumed' opting-in when any standard content/contact form is filled out, and included a link to our custom "Subscription Center" page in the footer of every email, which is more or less par for the course for large B2B enterprise-type subscriptions. I will say, however, that whenever I'm an end-user, I always appreciate more visible options for setting communication preferences, like you've outlined here.
Are you allowing pre-fill on that checkbox field?
Mike can't use Pre-fill unless he is storing the data in an intermediate database and retrieving it at form render time. Remember that he is using a completely non-Marketo form (and not even using the Forms API to post).
If a lead is in a jurisdiction such as Canada where checking the opt-in checkbox by default is not allowed, and there's no way to retrieve the value previously entered by the same lead, then you have no choice: you must leave the opt-in checkbox unchecked by default and assume that if it's still unchecked when the form posts, the lead meant to deliberately opt out. The only legal way around this would be to have three radio buttons (No, opt out (default) | Yes, Opt in | Don't change current setting). If they still answer No, at least you've given them that third option, which isn't possible with a checkbox.
Ah, good points on the server-side and Canada considerations, Sanford Whiteman. Mike -- I agree with the above -- you might have to get creative if your goal is to keep that existing functionality as much as possible.
Great point on CASL. This is big sticking point, especially as 2017 is fast approaching!
I'm currently facing reverse engineering the efforts put in place by my predecessors to document (as required per CASL law) the methods, policies and procedures, as well as all unsubscribe requests and resulting actions.
Going to play devil's advocate here.. Does not checking a box mean that someone is opting out? Especially if you have all of their opt-in information, and this is not specifically an opt-out/update your preferences page.
If you only show the form in places where Opt In is allowed to be the default, then that would potentially work... but the form is so enfeebled by not having access to the person's current settings that I would rethink the whole approach (or acknowledge that you need to have them Opt In again, even if that same address turns out to be in your db with Unsubscribed==false). Even under CASL, you're allowed to not allow a form to post unless the person clicks to subscribe, btw... you just can't click the box *for* them!
I agree with not checking the box for them, but not sure I agree with changing existing preferences because they haven't opted in *again*.
Much agreed Dory Viscogliosi!!
Once you have explicit Opt-In, it is final until the user unsubscribes or requests via some other method to be removed from future CEMs (consumer electronic messages)
Big point is to have auditable records: