3 min read

How Simple Changes to Wording can Increase Contact Preference Opt-Ins

A hand reaching up to a Contact Us sign in a window

We’re all keen on getting customers to sign up to our mailing lists and agree to share their data with us, but are we paying enough attention to the actual wording of how we’re asking for their consent?

When setting up contact preferences, consider the phrasing that you use, as it can have a big impact on your customers expectations and the likelihood of them agreeing to be contacted. We’ve come up with a few things to consider...

Choose your words carefully

First of all, think about exactly what you’re asking for or telling your customers. Are you being completely clear with what customers can expect? What message are you sending? Here are a couple of examples:

  • Are you happy for us to contact you by email?

This is pretty explicit that you want customers to sign up to being contacted by you but it doesn’t provide any information about what you might be contacting customers about.

  • I would like to receive information by email about upcoming events, offers and news.

This is even more explicit as it specifies what customers will be receiving information about.

You need to be careful however, as if you ask customers to sign up to emails about ‘events, offers and news’ then you can’t email them about anything else, such as fundraising. It’s a balance between being clear and transparent with customers, but not restricting your options.

Neither of these options are necessarily the right one to use for you, but they hopefully illustrate the point that the wording you choose can have an impact on what customers will think.

Don’t make it daunting

Whatever wording you choose, make sure it’s as simple and easy to understand as possible, but also make sure it’s not going to scare customers away. Remember that the main purpose of asking customers for their preferences is to encourage them to sign up. Make sure you’re not asking for anything you think customers wouldn’t be happy with - if you are, it’s likely to put people off signing up.

Test and refine

Don’t be afraid to amend the wording* of your preferences, to see what works best. You could try using slightly different phrasing from week to week (or month to month) to see what has the best uptake - just make sure you keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Don’t just set your preferences and forget about them.

*As long as you don’t fundamentally change what customers are giving permission for.

Case studies

A couple of Spektrix venues have worked with Katy Raines of Indigo to analyse the way that they collect customer preferences, with a view to increasing the number of customers who give their permission to be contacted.

Hull Truck Theatre had identified that they only had permission to contact 50% of their database, with only 37% of customers opting in to receiving email communication. Having identified that, they made a concerted effort to focus on getting permission from customers, using various strategies:

Step one: They worked with box office staff to make sure everyone understood the importance of collecting customer data, and ensure customers were being asked for their preferences.

Step two: Two different sets of wordings were tested, to see which performed best. The first two options they tested were:

  • Option A: “Please tick to receive email/postal information from Hull Truck Theatre.”
  • Option B: “I would like to receive email/postal information from Hull Truck Theatre, so I don’t miss out on the latest activities and events, but don’t want to be bombarded.”

You might imagine the second option would have been the most successful but in fact, while option 2 resulted in 53% of opt-ins over the test period, option 1 resulted in a massive 68% take-up. As you can see, it’s always worth testing your theories out – and assume nothing!

Step three: They then set monthly targets to monitor the ongoing success of asking for preferences.

MAC Belfast also went through a similar process, but in addition they developed a data promise which aimed to reassure customers that their data will be used properly and make sure they’re being  transparent about how customer data is used. This data promise was shared with box office staff to make sure everyone understood what the organisation was doing. Here’s what their data promise looks like:

MAC Belfast's data promise: Exclusive announcements, season brochure twice a year by post, emails twice a month, emails matched to your interests

In Spektrix we’re making a range of improvements to our data sharing features, including the ability to let customers set their main preferences for the venue and then set individual preferences when they book for events that the venue’s putting on, alongside a partner company. These features are all about introducing flexibility, so that our clients can set their contact preferences up however they want, depending on the needs of their organisation.

Whatever system you use though, the key thing to remember is to make sure you’re giving yourself as much opportunity to get customers signing up to your mailing list as possible. Make it an easy decision for your customers, and keep testing to see what works.


Make GDPR work for you and your audiences with our toolkit and templates for arts organisations

Boldly Compliant: A GDPR Toolkit

Michael Dodd is a former member of the Spektrix team

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