Opt in, soft opt in and opt out

We’re asked a lot about how to manage customer communications in consumer marketing, especially in light of all the emails pouring into our inboxes from brands desperate to re-engage with us.

There’s a lot of scaremongering and resulting panic, with people being told they “can’t communicate with anyone unless they’ve opted in” and “you can’t email anyone because of PECR”.

Neither of which are true, by the way.

We’ve put together this short guide to help you navigate this complex issue, because it involves both GDPR and the e-privacy regulations.

It’s also worth noting that the e-privacy regulations will change this year, so soft opt in is likely to get more difficult.

NOTE: This guide is for Consumer Marketing (B2C)

What you can’t do:

You can’t email consumers that haven’t bought from you, without their consent. This includes people signing onto Wifi or brochure requests for example. You should collect consent at these interaction points in order to market to them.

What you can do:

You can email people who have purchased from you. This is the Soft Opt In piece. However, this comes with a few caveats:

  • you must be able to demonstrate that you gave them the opportunity to opt out when they purchased from you
  • you must give them the opportunity to easily opt out with every communication
  • you cannot pass their information to third parties

The lawful basis for processing in this instance is legitimate interest.

Hopefully this has been helpful, if you have any questions, or need any help with your GDPR compliance, please just get in touch.


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