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The days of “hide the opt-out box” are over

The days of “hide the opt-out box” are over

Permission statements – easy! Until the need to collect more consent-to-contact becomes crucial; then even the wisest fundraisers can be overwhelmed.

The hide-the-opt-out-box box days are over because legal and ethical criteria are obliging charities to gather clear and affirmative consent if they wish to continue marketing contact.

But before fundraisers can rise to this challenge they need to overcome several hurdles. The first is that reworking the permission statement to make it not only compliant with the impending legislation, but also an attractive enough proposition to incentivise supporters to sign up, is it not on the list of annual marketing tasks and so has no budget.

Measuring the value of consent

When charities do not measure consent rate they are unable to calculate the value of any improvement to permission statements. Just as in 1990s marketers calculated customer lifetime value (LPV), in the digital age fundraisers need to know their donor’s IPV.

Without commercial measurement, consent is a random, scary, unavoidable legal chore; with it, commercial and performance implications can be counted, examined and improved. This is why fast.MAP created a free IPV calculator to provide charities with a simple way to measure consent as a financial rather than a legal issue.

The challenges

Next comes the challenge of data storage – storing the multiple channel preferences created by a live testing process are not straightforward and there is little point in collecting data if there is no way of storing the variables generated?

But perhaps the greatest challenge is generated by test and learn techniques which oblige fundraisers to record each individual’s latest response. This untidy legacy of numerous consumer commitments makes it difficult to trial multiple permission statements in a live environment.

However, now charities can test and learn away from their own databases using fast.MAP’s Consent Optimising Benchmarks which enable them to compare their IPV’s effectiveness with others and then improve it.

Fundraisers will find it far easier to test different wording, design and media channel options if they first create a multi-phased test matrix which can be applied to a benchmarked research process. This will allow charities to objectively compare their own statement’s performance with others and discover insights at each phase to drive improvements to the statement in the next.

How a test matrix works

A test matrix starts with a control statement which has been/is already in use and has generated response data, this will anchor research results to the marketplace. The “control” is normally the high target against which other test results are measured, so in other areas of marketing the process works by iteration rather than by introducing “the next big idea”. This is where consent marketing is very different.

The control is normally a permission statement which is as tempting and warming as a cold bath and was created years ago by a legal team. So the first set of statements tested against the control should explore as much creative ground as possible: Bold new approaches rather than iteration are the order of the day.

fast.MAP has identified the three main pillars of consent:

i) Format: Opt-in or opt-out,

ii) Language

iii) Media channel choice.

As recommended by direct marketing testing best practice, two of these variables should be kept constant and the third changed. This ensures cause and effect are isolated. Once this approach is adopted, it’s relatively straightforward to construct the remaining testing matrix.

In the diagrams below, the colour of the boxes denotes similarity or difference within each of the main variables.

Opt-in, opt-out chart - source: fastMAP

If a brand is not confident about the control (and few are), then a minimum of a three-phase approach works well.

fast.MAP's four stage research chart

Ideally, a panel of between 500 and 1,000 respondents (whose demographics are similar to the charity’s donors/ prospects) should see each of the statements.

Here is a typical test matrix structure, although there are many others:

Phase 1: Control versus up to 10 new ideas

• Phase 2: Four adapted versions of the Phase 1 winner and runner-up plus new 5th test

• Phase 3: Further adapted versions of Phase 2 winner and runner-up

• Phase 4: Phase 3 winners and runners-up adapted to optimise consent

Unlike the outcome of traditional direct marketing testing where few new tests beat the stellar-performing control. With permission statement testing the control is frequently so shockingly poor that the performance of the winning test statement smashes it.

This underlines the huge potential growth in consents and the accompanying increased financial rewards which can be gained from a carefully crafted and worded permission statement.

You can find out more about enhancing your permission statement in fast.MAP’s ‘Guide to Creating Charity Permission Statements’ – normally £50 but free for UK Fundraising readers who use the following download code: COGCH0316.

David Cole is MD of online research company fast.MAP.

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