Unfortunately, opt-out marketing policies are the norm. They allow marketers to send you information and offers they want to send and to use online and other information about you to target their marketing.
You can opt-out if you don't want this to occur. But the message is this: if you don't like these practices, or receiving the emails, calls, ads, etc., the burden is on you to opt-out of communications with the company.
Frustration with these campaigns is coming not just from consumer groups, but from Capitol Hill. Two members of the House sharply criticized the telecom giant Verizon for new marketing initiatives allowing advertisers to launch appeals based on consumers' locations, sites visited and search queries.
"While we understand the benefits of tailoring advertising to customers, we strongly believe that customers should be in control of the sharing and disclosure of their personal information through an Opt-In process," Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) said in a joint statement. Markey and Barton chair an important bipartisan privacy caucus. Proposals for further legislation seem likely.
Today's empowered consumers are questioning why the burden should be on them to opt-out... rather than marketers competing to engage consumers with compelling value propositions that inspire them to opt-in. Consumers now feel they should choose when and from whom to receive preference-driven communications, offers and resources, and they have not been shy in expressing their feelings on this issue.
FIVE WAYS TO WIN CONSUMER OPT-IN
Results from over 100 Voice of Customer relationship research efforts we have conducted for companies such as Microsoft, NBC Universal, IBM, and many Growth companies, indicates that there are five criteria consumers have as they evaluate whether to opt-in to sharing in-depth information with a marketer. They are:
- Consumers have to trust that the company will adequately safeguard their information and use it in a responsible way.
- "Responsible" means that consumers must believe that their information will not be rented or sold to third parties.
- "Honor my preferences" reflects the expectation that their "opt-in" self-profiled preferences will be used to drive increasingly targeted communications and offers... and suppress those that are not relevant per the expressed preferences of individual customers.
- The value consumers receive in exchange for providing in-depth information must be obvious and compelling. To overcome the legacy of receiving untargeted and irrelevant communications, consumers must see an obvious improvement in relevance. This expectation of relevance applies both to their online experience and subsequent email, direct mail, etc. If the value is not obvious, consumers will assume you have betrayed their trust and expectations.
- Consumers must see proof that the company will be able to deliver on requirements 1 through 4 above, not just once, but consistently over time.
We can expect Congress to take some kind of action on this issue, and sooner rather than later. Whatever form the new rules finally take, I suspect that the marketers who survive and thrive in the new regulatory environment will be those who consistently meet the five requirements above.
Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.
Ernan was recently inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame.
Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Ernan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.
His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.
Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."