Consent is key for in-app messaging compliance and success

Caroline McClelland, marketing manager at Kumulos, explains why the future for in-app messaging is consent-based. 

Consent-based messaging has never been so important for mobile marketers. Just read the headlines about EE being fined for sending messages, and you’ll soon understand the implications of ignoring data protection legislation.

The good news is, that, if you’re already using a platform like Kumulos as your mobile messaging platform, consent is built in for push notifications and in-app messages too. Kumulos is leading the way when it comes to supporting opt-in consents – and withdrawal of consents – for ALL mobile messaging – push notifications and in-app messages.

In this post, we take a look into the importance of consent-based messaging. Also, we give you some tips on how to obtain consent. Moreover, we give you the information you need to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now, and for the future of consent-based mobile marketing.

So why did the ICO fine EE Ltd?
In the mobile sector, you couldn’t escape June 2019 headlines about EE Limited. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fined EE $122,000 (£100,000) for sending over 2.5m direct marketing messages to its customers, without their consent.

The messages encouraged customers to access and use the ‘My EE’ app to manage their account. This is a service message – and fine in terms of messaging. But, the messages also invited users to upgrade their phone. This is marketing – and should only reach those opted in for marketing messages.

During the investigation, ICO found the messages contained direct marketing. Moreover, EE did not follow electronic marketing rules when it comes to obtaining consent.

The ICO’s guidance on mobile marketing is clear. Marketing messages can only be sent to existing users if they have given their consent, and, if they are given a simple way to opt out of marketing when their details are first collected, and in every message sent. This is because app users have a right to opt out of receiving marketing at any time. When app users exert this right, it’s the organisation’s responsibility to stop sending messages. EE’s use of in-app messaging for a service message combined with a marketing message broke the rules of consent.

Stark reminder
The ICO’s investigation of EE is a stark reminder that mobile app marketers cannot escape the GDPR. At Kumulos, we welcome GDPR as an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to app data protection and mobile privacy rights. Kumulos is GDPR compliant, and used by thousands of mobile app developers as their trusted mobile marketing automation platform.

Data protection and gaining consent has never been more important, especially since this new EU GDPR legislation came into force in May 2018. In fact, when it comes to consent-based messaging and data protection, it’s worth reminding yourself about GDPR regulations.

Here’s what you should already know:
Explicit consent: Businesses must request consent to collect, use and move customer data

Right to access: Data controllers must be able to provide a copy of personal data, free of charge

Privacy by design: This concept has existed for many years already but comes under the legal requirement of GDPR. Privacy and data protection should be a key consideration through all stages of a project lifecycle

Right to be forgotten / Data Erasure: Users can request to have all their personal data deleted

Breach Notifications: Authorities and users must be notified of any potential data breach within 72 hours

All companies must be able to demonstrate that they are adhering to regulation by putting procedures in place to protect their customers’ data and this includes data within mobile apps.

Obtain consent – don’t violate data protection rules
Data is one of the most important parts of technology, particularly mobile app development. From gathering app analytics for reports to obtaining app users’ consent and details for targeted push notifications, data plays such an integral role.

Sending app users push notifications requires consent.  Fact.

However, in-app messaging, which is considered as part of the app experience, does not actually require an opt-in from the user. Although, be careful, as not all in-app messaging is classed as user experience and would still need consent if this channel is being used purely for marketing.

When used correctly, in-app messaging is the perfect channel for reaching users who have opted-out of receiving your push notifications and emails. But, this can annoy app users. Moreover, the ambiguity surrounding what constitutes an appropriate in-app message can lead to embarrassing situations like EE being recently fined.

Data can often be misused unintentionally, and if this happens, like EE, it can be costly for the company. GDPR legislation means that all app developers need to check their mobile marketing strategies and the tools that they use. Processing data responsibly has always been important. If anything, the introduction of GDPR has put more rigour around data management. The ICO has the power to prosecute if companies have not taken measures to combat potential vulnerabilities of sensitive data. Be warned, like what happened to EE, they do prosecute!

Kumulos leads the way 
The launch of Kumulos in-app messaging was met with much excitement by mobile marketers around the globe. Not only because it enables them to use the same platform to send in-app messages as well as push notifications, but because Kumulos is leading the way with consent-based in app messaging.

Kumulos is offering mobile app developers a choice to either auto-enroll all users, or, give users the choice of in-app messaging consent.

What does this mean for mobile app developers? Well, given that consent is definitely going to become a bigger issue for mobile marketers it means that users of Kumulos can worry less about data legislation because they know that Kumulos has opt-ins covered.

Kumulos  CEO Mark Petrie says: “We built in consent from the ground up on Kumulos’ in-app messaging feature. This gives app developers the option when coding an app to use the built-in consent model for in-app messaging. They can of course alternatively auto-enroll everyone for in-app messaging, but Kumulos gives them the option.”

Encouraging users to opt in for messaging
Getting app users to opt-in to push notifications (and in-app messaging) can be tricky. However, to stand a better chance you need to keep the messages relevant. And, convey the value of the content you will deliver to your app customer. Here are some ideas to get users to opt in to push notifications through the use of in-app messaging and custom screens.

First impressions count
Like anything in life, first impressions count. When it comes to onboarding new app users, provide an eye-catching splash page. For example, a custom screen that pops up the first time a user opens your app. Then, use this to guide your customer through your app’s top features.

Don’t ask users to opt in immediately
One of the biggest mistakes that app developers make is asking for permission right away. This often frustrates your app users and will result in low opt-in rates.

Create pre-permission messages to gauge user interest
Following onboarding, you can gauge user interest with a pre-permission message asking whether they want to opt in to receive updates. If the user clicks ‘OK’, direct them to the official consent page; if the user clicks ‘Not Now’, wait until they are more familiar with your app and ask again later.By postponing the initial question and gauging the user’s interest, you can save your one opportunity to obtain consent for the ideal time. And, when you think you’ve reached the ideal time, you can use a tool like Kumulos in-app messaging to seek push notification permission.

Time your consent request based on their app activity
Demonstrate value to your app user before attempting to show the opt-in again. One smart way to achieve this is to set certain event criteria before launching consent requests. Emphasising exactly how push notifications will contribute and enhance the user experience based on their unique actions is more likely to encourage opt-in.

Test for best conversion rates
Once you’ve set up your pre-consent messages and event criteria, it’s vital to test and measure the success of your in-app message variables. Testing will help improve conversion rates. You should test the timing of messages as well as the content and design of the message. Try out rich content with images too.

You’ve obtained consent – now maintain the relationship
Once your users have opted in to receive push and in-app notifications, it’s critical that you respect the highly personal nature of this communication channel. Focus your efforts on delivering targeted, personalized push messages. These will add value to ensure your users do not opt-out of push at a later stage – or uninstall the app!

Final thoughts on consent-based in-app messaging
In-app messaging allows you to deliver rich content to users whilst they are in the app. Mobile marketers use in-app messaging to boost conversion through the on-boarding journey, highlight special offers, ask users to rate an app, subscribe to receive push notifications and much more.

In fact, industry statistics reveal that those who use in-app messaging see around a 30 per cent increase in uptake of app launches. They also see a massive four times increase in app retention.

For maximum effect, push notifications and in-app messaging can be combined. With Kumulos, once configured, you can send unlimited push notifications to opted-in users and in-app messages to app users on both iOS and Android devices. You can use segments, channels, geofences and beacons to target your audience, trigger automations and schedule campaigns. Just don’t forget that consent-based messaging…requires consent!

Kumulos is easy to setup. Start sending in-app messages now by signing up for your free trial or book your product tour.  Kumulos’ secure, easy to use mobile marketing automation platform is trusted by thousands of mobile app developers in 25 countries across seven continents – with millions of connected devices managing billions of API calls & push messages a month.