Overview and legal basis of opt-in processes

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Opt-in methods serve for registering new recipients in Optimizely Campaign. Senders of advertising messages need traceable consent from the recipients to advertise in a legally secure manner. To reach this legal security, only the double opt-in method is advisable. There are also the single opt-in method and the confirmed opt-in method but both of these are not advisable in most cases.

The information in this article is not legally binding.

Legal basis

Traceable consent

In accordance with paragraph 7, section 2 UWG (the German Unfair Competition Act), sending promotional emails to consumers without their prior express consent is considered an unreasonable nuisance and unfair competition.

To protect consumers from receiving unwanted messages (spam), legally compliant omnichannel marketing is based on permissions. The sender must have the consumer’s consent to receive messages.

If a recipient has given permission via an opt-in method, the sender has credible proof of consent in the event of a complaint by the recipient. Should legal action arise, the opt-in must be demonstrable in a court of law. Therefore, careful management of opt-in processes is important.

Exception for transactional messages

Transactional messages do not generally require an opt-in. For example, registration and order confirmation emails may be sent without an opt-in. However, this only applies if the transactional messages do not contain additional advertising.

Omnichannel marketing: Separate opt-ins

Collect and record a separate opt-in for each channel (telephone, text message, email and so on). This is required to fulfill the documentation requirements under data protection law.

The text in a double opt-in message must exclusively seek consent for sending promotional material and – as opposed to generic "general consent" for types of advertising – the text must precisely describe the promotional materials. For example, you should differentiate between a regular newsletter and a reminder message that is sent when a customer does not respond to an offer.

Validity of the permission

An opt-in may expire as established by current case law. This is generally the case if you do not contact a recipient for over one year. The previously given consent will no longer apply if you begin contacting the recipient again after this period.

To prevent opt-ins from expiring, contact recipients regularly.

Possible Opt-in methods

Double opt-in method

Optimizely recommends this opt-in method because it offers the best legal security and protects recipient's mailboxes from abuse.

In the double opt-in method the end user consents to receiving messages from the sender before any promotional messages are sent. Recipients receive a message with a double opt-in link, which they must click to confirm their newsletter registration.

Their addresses are only added to the recipient list if they click the link. This method ensures that recipients are not signed up for services against their will by third parties.

Single opt-in method

Optimizely does not recommend this opt-in method.

Using the single opt-in method, a recipient agrees to receive promotional messages from the sender. Their email address is then entered into the recipient list. Unlike with the double opt-in method, no confirmation link is sent. The single opt-in method is not recommended because it is not certain that recipients have entered their email addresses into the recipient list themselves.

Confirmed opt-in method

Optimizely does not recommend this opt-in method.

In the confirmed opt-in, an end user agrees to receive promotional messages from the sender. The recipient receives a message confirming that their data is stored, and that they will receive messages. This method suffers from the same problems as the single opt-in method, except that the recipients are directly informed that their data was entered into a recipient list.

Priority of parallel opt-in processes

If a recipient has already completed a double opt-in process and a new opt-in process for the same recipient in the same recipient list is started, the double opt-in process will not be overwritten by an opt-in process of another type.

Active double opt-in processes always have the highest priority and must be completed to add the recipient to the recipient list. This rule protects highly verifiable double opt-ins from being replaced by less valuable types of opt-in processes.