Marketing in the Opt-In Era

Malcolm DeLeoMalcolm DeLeo

Business Development & Strategy

March 16, 2021

Why Marketing is Changing in the 2020s

What will happen when consumers must actively opt-in to share their search and purchase habits, their app usage, their location, and their likes and dislikes with companies? Simple. The number of opt-ins will drop off a cliff, along with the insights and targeting capabilities that marketers have come to rely on.

Due to mounting consumer awareness, media coverage, legislation, and TOS updates all convening around evolving privacy issues, the need for marketers to use and enhance their first party data will be more important than ever before. Businesses will be forced to advertise and market to consumers differently during the rest of this decade. In the first of two blogs, we focus on how the dawn of this new “opt-in” era of the internet will impact your business. Then in part two, we detail a strategy for how your brand can respond.

But first, you will need to approach consumers differently. Welcome to the opt-in era.

Here’s What Marketers Can Expect

  1. Diminished Value of Paid Ads: When consumers don’t let you understand their individual behaviors, messaging that was previously laser-targeted becomes scattershot and reduces your ability to connect with the right target.
  2. Increased Challenges to Find Good Brand Ambassadors: Because social search APIs that expose user data are at risk of being rolled back even more, brands will dramatically reduce their visibility on those insights. As the climate of trusting influencers has declined, finding the right people will be an uphill battle.
  3. Painful Reliance On 3rd Party Platforms: Consumer privacy and the push NOT to share data across tech platforms shrinks the ability to retarget users around the web - making integrated marketing harder to execute. Owned channels and relationships become much more valuable.
  4. Brand Authenticity Worsens: With fewer data points to inform your messaging, you run the risk of not connecting with your consumer and losing sustainable relationships.

If consumers are opting out, are marketers doomed to accept lower return on ad spend (ROAS) and reach, or do they have an option to respond? Can marketers get audiences to actually opt-in to marketing campaigns in the future instead?

The Answer Might Surprise You.

Opt-in marketing can take several forms and generally is defined as offering enough value to entice the consumer to take part in your campaign. This could include rewards programs, generating email sign ups, or creating user-generated content (UGC) call-to-actions or contests.

To replace paid traffic at the top of the marketing funnel, UGC campaigns offer a key opportunity to source new traffic. The viral nature of UGC call-to-actions (including public hashtags and tagging friends/creators) provides a naturally social, inviting experience for consumers to engage with, and works well to acquire traffic to wherever you display your UGC gallery, whether on your website or your social profiles. After sourcing initial opt-in traffic through UGC campaigns to your marketing properties, next try converting that traffic by adding a second opt-in campaign type on the same webpage, like driving email sign ups, or promoting a rewards program right below your UGC gallery. Stacking these digital opt-in campaigns into brand building experiences will begin building your brand now and warm up your marketing lists for any physical opt-in events you run when the world and economy reopens.

Augmenting UGC and its organic social media-based engagement across your marketing strategy

UGC looked very promising in the previous decade but for much of that time, it never lived up to expectations. Brands waited and watched as consumers posted off-brand, mediocre quality content. Today, with nearly four billion content creators across social platforms and a high def camera in every pocket, UGC has grown to become part of social media users’ collective everyday vernacular.

Why? Because of these three reasons:

  1. Consumers Love to Create Content: In 2020, 2 billion+ downloads of content were made through TikTok and the average user was spending 52 minutes per day engaged on the app.
  2. Consumers Crave Online Attention: Consumers today want nothing more than to be recognized for what they post, share, or blast out for their followers to see. They want their work to be noticed and for people to care about what they have to say.
  3. Consumers Trust Consumers: Consumers don’t trust company messaging and marketing. They rely on each other now. 83% of consumers said they are more likely to trust a recommendation from their peer than the brand itself.

The most popular apps like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram all run on UGC — making it the new social currency for consumers. And now with EnTribe’s expert strategy of active guidance, brands can really channel that creative energy into on-brand valuable content.

Everyday consumers are actively sharing the products, services, and causes they care about. And their voices are powerful. So go to where they interact and communicate with like-minded people. Find out how to merge your consumers' voices with your brand’s needs as the opt-in era develops in our next blog.

Key Takeaways


of consumers said they are more likely to trust a recommendation from their peer

Changes in the Opt-in Era:

  1. Diminished Value of Paid Ads
  2. Increased Challenges to Find Good Brand Ambassadors
  3. Painful Reliance On 3rd Party Platforms
  4. Brand Authenticity Worsens
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