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Automating Global Consent Management in Marketo

In today’s data-driven marketing landscape, navigating the complexities of global consent management has become paramount. Marketo offers functionalities to streamline this process, but achieving full automation requires a comprehensive understanding of legal nuances and strategic implementation. This blog delves deeper into the concepts introduced in the previous summary, providing a richer understanding of automating consent management within Marketo.

The Challenge of Global Consent Management:

  • GDPR vs. Marketing Consent: Understanding the distinction between General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) consent and marketing consent is crucial. GDPR consent allows storing an individual’s personal data, while marketing consent pertains to their permission for receiving communications through specific channels like email or SMS. Companies must obtain both GDPR consent and marketing consent for specific actions.

  • Varying Legal Landscape: Data privacy regulations differ significantly across regions. The European Union’s (EU) GDPR sets a high bar for consent, requiring explicit opt-in for most marketing activities. The United States, on the other hand, relies on an opt-out model for commercial emails under the CAN-SPAM Act. Staying compliant necessitates tailoring consent collection and management strategies to each geographical market.

  • Multi-Channel Complexity: Modern marketing encompasses diverse channels like email, SMS, social media, push notifications, and more. Obtaining consent for each channel adds another layer of intricacy.

Building a Robust Blueprint:

  • Channel and Geographic Landscape Assessment: The first step involves meticulously mapping the countries your company operates in and the marketing channels you leverage.

  • Legal Expertise Integration: Collaborate closely with your legal department to ascertain the explicit and implicit consent requirements for each channel in every targeted country. This analysis should consider:

    • Explicit Consent: Channels requiring individuals to actively opt-in (e.g., checking a box) to receive communications.
    • Implied Consent: Situations where consent might be inferred based on specific actions (e.g., entering a contest or providing contact information during a purchase).
  • Country-Channel Matrix: Construct a comprehensive matrix that combines the channel and geographic overview with the legal insights. This matrix will serve as a reference point, highlighting the channels requiring explicit consent in each country.

  • Grouping Legally Identical Regions: For regions with identical consent requirements, group them together to streamline the Marketo setup process. This reduces redundancy and simplifies management.

Marketo Implementation Strategies:

  • Customizing Data Fields: Marketo offers the ability to create custom fields to capture and manage consent data. Here are some recommended fields:

    • Channel-Specific Fields: Create separate fields for each marketing channel (e.g., email_marketing_consent) with four values:
      • Explicitly Consented
      • Implied Consent by Law
      • Not Obtained/Withdrawn
    • Date of Latest Change: Track the date when consent status was last modified for each channel.
    • Source Channel and Campaign: Record the channel and campaign responsible for acquiring consent.
    • General Fields:
      • Marketing Consent (Boolean – True/False)
      • Consent Text (to store the specific wording of the consent obtained)
      • Change Log (to track historical changes in consent status)
      • Latest Category/Campaign (to identify the most recent source of consent)
      • Consent Overview (a summary of consent status across all channels)
  • Leveraging Form Consent Fields: Create a separate “form_consent” field (True/False) within your Marketo forms. This ensures that existing consent preferences are not overridden during form submissions.

  • Scenario-Based Automation: Marketo allows for the creation of smart campaigns and flow diagrams to automate consent management tasks. Here are some examples:

    • Opt-in Countries:

      • New Form Submission: Update the relevant channel-specific consent fields in the individual’s Marketo record based on the selections made within the “form_consent” field.
      • Existing Person Interacting with a Form: Update consent based on their actions within the form. For instance, if they unsubscribe from an email list, update the “email_marketing_consent” field to “withdrawn consent.”
    • Opt-out Countries:

      • Unsubscribing from a Channel: When a person unsubscribes from a specific channel (e.g., clicking an “unsubscribe” link in an email), trigger a flow that updates the corresponding channel-specific consent field to “withdrawn consent.”
      • Unsubscribing from All Channels: If an individual opts out of receiving all marketing communications, initiate a flow that updates all channel-specific consent fields to “withdrawn consent.”


        Additional Considerations:

        • Double Opt-In: While not mandatory in all jurisdictions, implementing a double opt-in process for email marketing is highly recommended. This involves sending a confirmation email after an individual initially signs up, requiring them to click a link to verify their subscription. This additional step strengthens the validity of consent and helps ensure that email lists are populated with genuinely interested recipients.

        • Data Governance: Establish clear data governance policies and procedures to manage consent data effectively. This includes defining data retention periods, outlining data access protocols, and implementing robust security measures to safeguard personal information.

        • Regular Review and Updates: The regulatory landscape surrounding data privacy is constantly evolving. Conduct periodic reviews of your legal framework and update your Marketo setup accordingly. Staying abreast of legal changes and adapting your strategy is crucial for maintaining compliance.

        • Transparency and User Control: Clearly communicate your data collection and usage practices within your privacy policy. Provide users with easy-to-access mechanisms to view, update, or withdraw their consent. Empowering users with control over their data fosters trust and strengthens customer relationships.

        • Integration with Marketing Tools: Ensure that your Marketo instance seamlessly integrates with other marketing tools you utilize. This enables consistent application of consent preferences across various platforms, preventing discrepancies and enhancing overall campaign effectiveness.


        Automating global consent management in Marketo offers significant advantages, streamlining workflows and minimizing manual effort. However, achieving successful implementation necessitates a meticulous approach. By meticulously mapping your operational landscape, collaborating with legal counsel, and strategically leveraging Marketo’s functionalities, businesses can establish a robust framework for managing consent while adhering to global data privacy regulations. 

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