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Consent is Power


At The Telegraph 15 years ago, the great and the good all wanted their say about the database, because organisations were and are driven by targets and managers have always had to meet these sales, product, cost or channel requirements.

Data is the enabler, the oxygen that allows those managers to hit the targets. Data is power.

Then, marketing consent was viewed as an annoying legal chore that bluntly excluded 5% of the database. No managers were interested in it because it could neither increase nor diminish power.

But times have changed, consumers know they have choices and this and legal pressures is fuelling a move towards more explicit consent. Brands can no longer play “hide the opt-out statement” because consent is not passive. It has implications and decisions are required.

The consent process is the base upon which databases are built. Thousands of consumers are included or excluded because of consent. The 5% drop in opt-ins predicted 15 years ago is now likely to be closer to 50% for many brands.

Imagine the impact on organisational targets when 45% of the data is lost, particularly when choices need to be made about what type of data remains and what should go.

ICO Guidance encourages brands to give consumers choice over the channels through which they receive marketing; and research from the Consent Optimising Benchmarks shows choice of channel dramatically affects consent rates, as does wording, structure and order. So, important choices need to be made.

Is third party data crucial, because we know it supresses consent levels across other channels? How important is telephone? What about new media which will grow in importance?

Below are the consent levels achieved by five slightly different permission statements.

Which statement is the best? The decision about which statement is selected will have profound implications on the amount of data generated and on managers’ ability to hit their targets.

If email is most important, then perhaps statement 1 which achieves 66% should be chosen.

SMS is a growing channel, so maybe it should be statement 3 or 4?

Phone, while not necessarily popular, is arguably the best at generating immediate revenue and statement 2 is the best for telephone.

And finally, consent for post varies between a miserly 20% to a more acceptable 42%.

Selecting statement 5 over statement 2 would more than double the volume of direct mail contact available, but comes at the price of the complete removal of third party data, halving the amount of telephone data and attracting fewer email consents.

Each of these choices has an effect on an organisation’s revenues, costs and politics.

Consent is power. But to retain and grow this power, managers need to convince individual groups of consumers to opt-in. Everyone is not equal; which is why Permission Communism isn’t efficient…

Understand more about how you can evaluate consent via the Consent Optimisation Benchmarks process at

Try and calculate the value of consent to your organisation with the Incremental Permission Value Calculator

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Interesting to see the table of response for different approaches to opt-in. Leaves me wish to know more.

What were the actual opt-in statements?

Where they for the same brand or different brands?

What was the data collection process and channel? EG were some via website forms, others paper offline forms? Or all the same?

Like is shown we can treat consent as the call to action for our communication, an explicit part of the data journey, rather than an adjunct. It is great that David is drawing our attention to this integral part of any current and future sales journey.