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Preference Management

What is Preference Management?

Preference management is an idea that has been around for decades, rising during the popularity of email marketing. As regulations have emerged to govern consumer data, preference management has become a key component in a privacy program. It is the way in which an organization manages communication with users and customers in order to maintain a healthy relationship.

As stated by Article 7 of the GDPR, “the controller shall be able to demonstrate that the data subject has consented to the processing of his or her personal data.” Consent is required for processing and communication and is explicitly defined by the regulation to be in clear language and easily withdrawn.

Consent Handling

The first step in determining how your organization should handle consent is to identify where the consent is tracked and which programs or products rely on it. Once this is determined, companies must identify when and where this consent is required.

When tracking and recording consent, companies should keep the following records to maintain compliance:

  • Name or another identifier of the user/data subject.
  • Date/timestamp and method of consent.
  • Corresponding privacy policy and consent requests copies, as per the time consent was acquired.
  • Document or capture of data through which consent was acquired.

After identifying the processes reliant on consent, it’s crucial to determine and track methods for obtaining users’ consent. Article 7, “conditions for consent,” states “[w]here processing is based on consent, the controller shall be able to demonstrate that the data subject has consented to the processing of his or her personal data.” Article 7 requires companies to both track consent and be capable of demonstrating that consent has been given for any processing of the users’ personal data.

For companies, this means staying organized and ensuring that consent requests are kept separate from terms of service. Article 7 also requires that consent is “presented in a manner which is clearly distinguishable from the other matters” and further states that it should be in clear and plain language, free of any technical or legal jargon.

Data Subject Rights

Under the CCPA, data subjects have similar rights to access and deletion of their personal data as they do under the GDPR. Additionally, individuals under the CCPA have the right to require a business that sells personal data to a third party not sell that consumer’s personal information.

According to research by Litmus and Fluent, 67 percent of users unsubscribe after receiving too many or irrelevant emails. Further, Litmus states that “consumer’s inboxes are simply becoming too clustered.” And according to Deloitte, 93 percent of users want the right to delete personal data, and 71 percent have said they’re more open to sharing personal data if they have control. Simply put, businesses must adopt a more user-friendly approach for email communication.

Some companies attempt to solve overstuffed inboxes by providing a service that mass-unsubscribes users from email lists. However, users continue to suffer from waves of thousands of unsolicited emails each year, and this leads to upset users, unwanted spam filters and more downsides for businesses.

Preference Management Tools

The modern, user-friendly solution for business clients is to use preference management. Preference management allows users to control their settings and enables businesses to track where and when consent is obtained and required. In this enablement, companies create transparency, an essential component of winning brands.

Multi-system preference management is a method of providing users access to their communication preferences, including marketing, sales and product update emails. Preference management ensures that users are content with the communication received and may include allowing previous customers to unsubscribe from emails, providing opt-in options to product updates, or creating a clear route to subscribing to marketing content/newsletters.

Preference management also enables organized and easily trackable consent. When users use corresponding reference forms or enter a webpage, consent is easily tracked across platforms and applied when necessary.

As companies face the rising demand to manage users’ privacy, from consumers and regulators alike, new tools and practices are emerging to meet these standards. Preference management is one of the many tools to keep users’ content and keep communication compliant.


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