How to re-verify your mailing list for GDPR in Campaign Monitor, MailChimp and Dotmailer

Written by Emily Owen on 21st May 2018

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This is a practical guide for those of you who use Campaign Monitor, MailChimp or Dotmailer to manage your marketing contacts and want to: 

  • create a confirmed / double opt in list (whereby a confirmation email is sent upon signup and verification is needed)
  • use an embedded signup form on your website with an opt-in checkbox 
  • send an email to your list, asking them to update their preferences and re-verify

It assumes that you have a signup form which was previously single opt-in (no confirmation emails sent) and without any other record of marketing preferences. 

Campaign Monitor

How to make your list confirmed / double opt in

Open the list you want to update. In the top left of the screen, under the list name, is the list type. Edit this and change from single to ‘confirmed opt-in’.

Note that, as stated by Campaign Monitor, “When you change a single opt-in list to confirmed opt-in, all active subscribers will be considered confirmed. In other words, existing subscribers will not be sent a verification email to confirm their subscription. This will only happen for new subscribers who sign up through a form.”

Updating this setting won’t change your view in Campaign Monitor at first but as new subscribers sign up you’ll begin to see a new tab appear on the list view which says ‘unconfirmed’, this is showing you a list of users who have not yet clicked the verification link in the confirmation email – users on this tab will not be sent any emails.

How to setup an embedded signup page with an opt-in checkbox

Campaign Monitor does not currently have any specific GDPR settings for signup forms (though they should be coming soon) so if you want to add an opt-in checkbox you’ll need to do this using Custom Fields. When viewing your list, you’ll see Custom Fields is one of the options in the right hand menu. 

The Field Name will appear as a new column in your contacts list view. We’ve labelled ours ‘Consent’, though it could be ‘Opt-in’ or similar. Set the data Type to Multiple Options (can select many), you’ll then be able to enter the text for the option, we’ve chosen ‘Opt in to Liquid Light emails’. The labels should reflect GDPR compliant wording, remember that you are gaining an individual’s consent to be contacted. 

When you save the new field you’ll be able to set its Preference Centre options, you need to set this to ‘visible’ so that it is included in the preference centre form – which users will be updating as part of your re-verification process. You could also set it as a required field.

Now, when you go to the form builder for this list, you’ll see the custom field has been added to the items which can be included in the form – add the field to your embedded form and click through to get the code. 

When you paste the code into your site, you can and add a line with a link to your privacy policy and any other messaging on the intended use of data but to keep things neat in your Campaign Monitor contact list you want to keep the field wording short when you set them up. 

At this point you can paste in URLs from your own site, one for the success page seen after submitting the form, the other for a success page seen by a user after they confirm their email. Further options include the ability to send an automated welcome email after the subscription process is complete. 

How to send an email to your list asking them to update their preferences

You’re now ready to draft your campaign asking your contacts to re-verify. How you approach this is up to you, no doubt you’ve received a number of emails by now (some simple, some serious, some using dodgy humor…).

Once your email is drafted you’ll need to add a link for users to update their preferences. In Campaign Monitor, the [preferences] tag automatically generates a link to the preference center  for each recipient.

All Campaign Monitor emails should include a link to the preference center in the campaign footer but this can also be added anywhere in a campaign. The link is unique to each subscriber and campaign so the link will not work in draft and test emails. 

The tag can be added to a button, image or placeholder text by using [preferences] in the link field instead of a URL. 

Once your campaign is sent, you’ll be able to see who has and has not fully opted in as the ‘Consent’’ column starts to be completed. 

At this point you might begin to question what happens if the user does not check the opt-in box, if you have not set it as a required field. Ultimately, there is plenty of room for user error (or stubbornness) here and you may find that users are updating their preferences without using the opt-in box but, as GDPR compliance is designed to give the individual absolute freedom of choice, best practice is to rely on them choosing to check the box, rather than making this a required field. 

MailChimp

How to make your list confirmed / double opt in

Find your list, in the settings menu navigate to ‘List name and defaults’, select ‘enable double opt-in’ and save. 

At this point you can also select the ‘enable GDPR fields’ option, which will give you specific contact method options on your MailChimp forms. However, this option is not (yet?) compatible with embedded forms, form integrations, or MailChimp Subscribe, therefore for the majority of our clients this is not actually very helpful, as they all require a signup that is embedded in their site. If you are happy using a signup URL then you can follow the GDPR guidelines on the MailChimp site but if, like us, you want to embed a form and make it GDPR complaint then read on.

How to setup an embedded signup page with an opt-in checkbox

So how do we setup an opt-in checkbox with MailChimp? As the new MailChimp GDPR feature is no good to those of us with embedded forms, we have to create our own opt-in checkboxes in the form builder. 

Luckily, this is straightforward. When creating your signup form, the form builder offers various options for different field types and ‘Check Boxes’ are included.

As with Campaign Monitor, the ‘field label’ and ‘options’ that you include here should reflect GDPR compliant wording. In the example above, we have kept things simple and used the field label ‘Opt-in’ with the option ‘Please check the box to confirm you are happy to receive marketing emails.’ Check Boxes will always be used to create Groups within a list and will now show in your Manage Contacts view, therefore it is a good idea to keep the wording short – you can add a longer message and a link to your privacy policy directly into the HTML when you add the code to your site. 

As you’ve updated your list settings to double opt-in, you’ll see some new options in the form builder. 

The minimum stages in the signup process are now as follows:

User submits sign up form > Signup thank you page is displayed > confirmation email is sent > User clicks on verification link > Confirmation thank you page is shown

If you’d like to use Thank You pages hosted on your own site, MailChimp gives you the option here to add their URLs. You can also (to a degree) customise the design of the reCAPTCHA, unsubscribe, update profile pages, etc, to match the styling of your site. 

How to send an email to your list asking them to update their preferences

You’re now ready to draft your campaign asking your contacts to re-verify. 

In MailChimp, the option to update preferences is called an Update Profile merge tag, which looks like this: *|UPDATE_PROFILE|*

All MailChimp emails should include an Update Profile link in the campaign footer but this can also be added anywhere in a campaign. The Update Profile link is unique to each subscriber and campaign so the link will not work in draft and test emails. 

The tag can be added to a campaign in the same way as any link so this could be added to a button, some placeholder text, or an image. 

Once your campaign is sent, you’ll be able to see who has and has not fully opted in as the ‘Opt-In’ column starts to be completed. 

Unlike Campaign Monitor, it is not possible to make our new checkbox a required field, therefore it is likely that some users may not complete this field. If you did want to make it a required field, a similar approach could be taken but using radio buttons instead of checkboxes. 

Dotmailer

How to make your list confirmed / double opt in

To set double opt-in as the default option, head to the account settings menu and under the 'Regulatory settings' section, select ‘enforce double opt-in for all signups, including bulk uploads’. As with MailChimp and Campaign Monitor, you can also customise the opt-in confirmation email that signups receive. Contacts who have submitted the signup form but not yet clicked the verification link with show in the ‘Pending’ contacts tab. 

How to setup an embedded signup page with an opt-in checkbox

The Dotmailer offering here is by far the simplest process of the three platforms when it comes to adding an opt-in checkbox to your forms. In the Signup Form builder, there is a Consent heading with the option to include your a message of your choosing and whether or not the consent field is required. Note that if ‘Require all fields to be filled in?’ is selected in the validation section then this will automatically include the Consent checkbox too. 

How to send an email to your list asking them to update their preferences

Whilst Dotmailer provide clear instructions for adjusting contact settings and sending opt-in campaigns to individuals, the instructions for sending an opt-in campaign to an entire list were strangely hidden in the comments section of this blog post. I’d have thought they’d make this easier to find for GDPR concerned users, especially as it’s also dead easy!

Simply draft your campaign and include a link of the type ‘double opt-in’ and the user’s settings will automatically update. 

In Summary

Although each slightly different in their approach and offerings in terms of customisation and number of required steps, whichever platform you use, the process for guaranteeing GDPR compliance on signup forms and re-verifying your mailing list is still reasonably straightforward!

This article was posted in Client Guides, Quick Tips by Emily Owen

  • Emily Owen

    Emily Owen

    Emily is one of our Account Managers and the Studio Manager. When she's not helping clients or keeping the office snacks topped up, you'll find her playing with Poppy the sheepdog, stretching it out at yoga, or shaking it out at a dance class.

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