Making Consent More Catchy

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Mark has worked in Insight and Analysis for over 30 years. Along with colleagues at Wood for Trees he specialises in the Charity and Not for Profit sectors. Mark holds qualifications in both Statistics and Cultural History. This unlikely combination makes him a great fit with WfT’s core approach: marrying the data held to an understanding of supporters as real people. This ensures that our work provides useable insight about what supporters do; why they do it, and how we can optimise our engagement with them.

Firstly, I’ll start with the question, are your supporters giving you the consent they want (and you need) in order for you to communicate with them effectively? It appears to me that whilst there is a lot of work going on around the DPA and GDPR, and a whole forest of regulations, guidelines, papers, forms, and online tick boxes come and go, organisations are still failing to communicate effectively around consent. The vast majority of customers and supporters don’t understand what they are consenting to, or what they’re not. Many customers and supporters don’t see how the box that they tick may affect what communications they receive.

I’m sure that by bringing our collective skills to bear we can make significant progress and ensure that we can talk to our supporters – because that’s what they want us to do.

So why have I come to this conclusion? Firstly, an old memory. Many years ago, I worked in financial services for a large retail bank. I worked in analysis, but would also see a lot of the work coming out of the research department. One paper I read back in the early 2000s shed some fascinating insight into marketing opt-outs (as we called them then). The work basically showed that a significant number of customers who had opted out of receiving communications both didn’t know they had opted out and, moreover, were disappointed that they never received any offers from their bank. For instance, they’d see a loan sale offer in their branch but despite receiving lots of loan offers from other organisations, they wouldn’t receive anything from their own bank. I don’t think that the research changed what that bank did. I suspect it got filed under ‘Too Hard to Tackle’.

More recently, I’ve seen a much more positive approach. Recent work for a charity client showed significant success in telephone consent campaigns. Supporters who had withheld consent for telephone or email contact were willing to give consent once the meaning and importance of which was explained. Whilst this is much more positive it still shows that the initial consent capture was falling short of what could be achieved.

I’ve looked at a fair few consent capture statements and they look great to me, but somehow they are still failing to capture consent from supporters who will give it once they’ve had a conversation. And as an industry insider, I am not the target audience so what looks great to me may well be very different from what works for our supporters.

So what can we do? I think the answer can only be testing and learning. We need to try a range of approaches, including different wordings, the use of pop-ups with more in-depth information, as well as different placements of the consent capture wording in the online journey.

Dare I say that the effort and intellectual rigour we bring to bear on this task should match what we put into getting excellent mail-packs, emails, and online communications?

By taking a multi-team approach, we can ensure that all stakeholders fully buy into the process to ensure positive and efficient outcomes, including:

  • Fundraising setting the direction
  • Creative agencies bringing their communication skills to bear
  • Insight agencies identifying the hotspots where consent capture is weak and support the testing programme with rigorous test design and results analysis
  • Compliance ensuring that the regulatory requirements are met

At Wood for Trees, we undertake response analysis and testing for a wide range of clients and would love to talk to you about how we could help in this vital area.