Understanding Implied vs. Explicit Consent for Email Marketing


In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of consent so you better understand who you can or cannot email for marketing purposes. It is crucial to understand this important topic so you comply with international laws and regulations and maintain a positive relationship with your potential and existing customers.

There are two types of consent when it comes to the ability to email a contact:

  • Explicit
  • Implied

Explicit Consent

Explicit consent, sometimes referred to as express consent, happens when a contact tells you directly that they want to receive email marketing messages from your brand. They provide clear and specific permission for their data to be used for email marketing purposes. It involves affirmative action where contacts actively agree to receive communication. This can be done through methods like checking a box on a website or filling out a form to subscribe to a newsletter list.

Explicit consent is generally considered the best practice for email marketing as it provides a higher level of transparency and respect for individual preferences. It also ensures that recipients have actively opted in to receive communications, reducing the risk of sending unwanted or unsolicited emails.

Pros and Cons of Explicit Consent

Pros of explicit email marketing consent

  • Compliance with regulations: Explicit consent ensures that you are complying with data protection regulations, such as the GDPR, CASL, and other local laws. 
  • Transparency and trust: Explicit consent demonstrates transparency in your email marketing practices. It shows that you value the privacy and preferences of your recipients by giving them control over whether they want to receive marketing emails. This builds trust and enhances your reputation.
  • Higher engagement and conversion: When individuals explicitly provide consent to receive emails, it is more likely that they are genuinely interested in your products or services. This can improve open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.

Cons of explicit email marketing consent

  • Reduced email list size: Explicit consent requires individuals to take an active step to opt in, which can result in a smaller email list compared to implied consent. This can limit your email reach.
  • Increased effort and time: Obtaining explicit consent often requires additional effort and resources. You need to implement proper consent mechanisms, such as opt-in forms, consent checkboxes, or double opt-in processes.

It's important to weigh these pros and cons based on your specific business needs and legal obligations when deciding whether to pursue explicit email marketing consent.

Methods to capture explicit consent using AdRoll

Implied Consent

Implied consent is when someone gives your brand their email address but does not explicitly say they want to receive email marketing messages from you. A common example of this is when a customer makes a purchase and provides their email at checkout but there's no checkbox or action that the customer takes in the checkout path to directly tell you they want to receive email messages from you in the future. However, it’s inferred that they have an interest in relevant content.

Pros and Cons of Implied Consent

Pros of collecting email addresses with implied consent

  • Larger email list: Implied consent allows you to include a broader range of individuals on your email list, including those with whom you have an existing relationship, such as customers or clients. This can expand your reach.
  • Ease of collection: Implied consent can be easier to obtain compared to explicit consent, as it does not require individuals to take an additional step to opt in.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Building an email list with implied consent can be more cost-effective, as it requires fewer resources and efforts to collect email addresses. 

Cons of collecting email addresses with implied consent

  • Compliance risks: Implied consent may not be sufficient to comply with strict data protection regulations, such as the GDPR or CASL, which often require explicit consent for electronic direct marketing.
  • Lower engagement and deliverability: When individuals have not explicitly opted in to receive marketing emails, there is a higher likelihood of lower engagement and deliverability rates. Since they did not actively express interest, they may be more likely to ignore your messages, unsubscribe or report your emails as spam.
  • Negative brand perception: Sending marketing emails without explicit consent can be viewed as intrusive and may negatively impact your brand perception. Some recipients may feel annoyed or violated if they receive unsolicited emails.

It's important to consider the legal requirements, potential risks, and recipient expectations when deciding whether to rely on implied consent for email marketing. Ensure that you carefully review the relevant laws in your jurisdiction and evaluate the potential impact on your brand reputation and customer relationships.

Methods to capture implied consent using AdRoll

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