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I'm creating a contact form. By EU law, I have a checkbox that the user must check to allow me to record his data (name and e-mail address) in order to send him further communication in the future. As the law dictates, this checkbox is off by default.

My past experience show that such a form will produce no user opt-in. The site is aimed at non-technical users, who will either skip/ignore the checkbox and the legal copy, or will be frightened by the possible threat to their privacy. Their scare comes from ignorance, and I've tried to come up with the best possible phrasing (I'm not a professional copywriter, but I'm an eager reader of articles on that matter), but I've met a very similar audience in the past, and for the most part these users seem to just ignore any non-required field... to the point that they all "came from" the first province in alphabetic order because it was the one already selected (we changed that control after noticing that, of course).

I could implement a newsletter subscription popup, that occasionally reminds visitors to subscribe; however, my client has no defined plans for an actual newsletter in the near future - we're just planning ahead and hoping to collect a contact list "for future uses". The contact form seems the best place to do this; other methods will be considered in the future (sale discounts, events), but not for now.

In the end, the user has three possible behaviors:

  • consider the checkbox and opt-in
  • consider the checkbox and don't opt-in (= opt-out)
  • skip/ignore the checkbox

The third option means a non-informed choice, translates to losing potential leads, and I want to lower the risk of that happening as much as possible. How could I drive the user to actually consider checking that opt-in?

EDIT I'm sorry if some terms come out as harsh or assuming. I'm not a native English speaker, and while I can use the language well enough for most uses I may pick the wrong terms, especially in a context I'm not too familiar with. I've edited some terms, I will edit more as I refine my language skills.

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    Could you maybe make a radiobutton group that is unchecked by default but required? Then they have to make a choice but I am unsure if it is allowed per EU law – Frederik Nielsen Mar 16 '17 at 11:23
  • Great idea! I'll check if it's legally acceptable. Thanks a lot! – Simone Mar 16 '17 at 14:23
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I'll add in my comment as an answer just in case it is actually correct;

You could add a radio-button that is not selected by default but required - this forces the user to make a choice.

You could add a little help text explaining why you want them to select yes.

This of course requires the above radio-button to be a legal way to do it in EU which I have no idea whether it is, but I can't see why it wouldn't be.

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In principal, I am not really in favor of the words that you use, like: "push","Their scare comes from ignorance", etc.

I choose to reply to this question to help you understand better how your users might feel. Users are not ignorant, they just don't want to get spammed by the stuff that you might send them. Giving your email nowadays is a big step for a person, no matter if they have a technical background or not.

What you could do is to explain to them why they would be interested in giving you their email. The user would give you their information only if they have something to gain from it. Think of what might interest your users: free e-books & whitepapers are common ways to collect leads but possibilities are endless. Think of the side of the user, not from a marketing point of you.

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    Sorry if I came out harsh. I used "push" for lack of a better word (that's why it's in quotes); as to ignorance, I'll try to explain myself better. The visitor has already given me his e-mail address: he's in a contact form, he wants to contact my client, and the e-mail is needed to reply. The legal copy explains that his data won't be recorded, unless he checks the opt-in. Users will probably (past research on similar audience) just skip all that small print and click "Send" without even thinking what that is. Instead, I want them to take notice, and then decide. – Simone Mar 16 '17 at 9:55
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    Sorry also if I came out too harsh. It is important to tell what you have just told me: The company cannot reply to you if you don't check this checkbox. Try to give a lot of emphasis on the box & explain in simple language why they should click it. Another solution is to ask them to send an email from their account instead of contacting your client in the contact form. – Dimitra Miha Mar 16 '17 at 10:00
  • I changed "push" to "encourage", which I think is more correct. Thanks for pointing that out. – Simone Mar 16 '17 at 10:01
  • Sorry @Dimitra Miha, I haven't made my point clear yet. That the e-mail address will be used to reply, that is explained (in a text that, sadly, most will just skip). Their data won't be recorded, but it will be used solely for the purpose of that communication. The checkbox additionally says, "check this box if you are ok with your data being recorded and used for future communications" (paraphrase: the actual text is in Italian). That is what I'm afraid will be "just skipped". I'm trying to make the users "not just skip" that. – Simone Mar 16 '17 at 10:06
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    The problem becomes clearer and clearer :) Then my answer remains the same. Try to understand what your users would be interested in. Using "your data being recorded" sounds a bit threatening. Something like: "Would you like to receive future news from us?" This is something that you can test with your actual users ;) – Dimitra Miha Mar 16 '17 at 10:21

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