How to Create an Opt-In Field on Your Pardot Forms

by Sarah Kelleher - February 14, 2017
How to Create an Opt-In Field on Your Pardot Forms

With the GDPR around the corner, data management is a hot topic and one that should be on every marketer’s mind. In principle the new rules, coming into force in May 2018, mean that explicit consent must be given in order to collect, process and use personal data and you’ll need to also record where and how that consent was given.

As a result, we are getting more and more requests to add opt-in fields to forms to capture explicit opt-ins. Legislation aside, collecting explicit opt-ins is best practice and will help you to build a high-quality, engaged audience in your database.

Check out our handy infographic guide to creating opt-in for your Pardot forms

The best way to capture an opt-in is with a checkbox on your forms that people tick if they agree to receive marketing emails from you. We’ve put together this handy guide to get you started:

1. Create a new custom field

You will need a field to capture the fact that a prospect has opted in to your communications. You’ll be using this field for segmentation in future so it’s important that it’s accurate and reliable.

TOP TIP – ‘Opted In’ and ‘Opted Out’ should be kept as separate fields. ‘Opted In’ records explicit consent to receive marketing emails when completing one of your forms. The ‘Opted Out’ field records email unsubscribes from your emails and preference centre and it’s not possible to remove the ‘Opted Out’ flag from a Pardot form, so a separate field is required.

This new field should be a Radio Button type with two values: ‘true’ and ‘false’. It’s important that this field is a Radio Button/Dropdown and not a Checkbox, as a Checkbox field in Pardot can have multiple values. Therefore, a Prospect may end up being both ‘true’ and ‘false’. What Salesforce refers to as a Checkbox field behaves differently and is best mapped to a Pardot Radio Button or Dropdown field.

Created an Opted In custom field

2. Add the field to your Forms

Although your new ‘Opted In’ field in Pardot is a Radio Button/Dropdown, you’ll want it to appear on the form as a single checkbox. This can be achieved with a simple script in your Layout Template which transforms the field. It records a ‘true’ value when the box is checked and a ‘false’ value when the field is unchecked – just how Salesforce fields behave. Ask your developer to help you with this or get in touch and we can set this up for you.

TOP TIP – Although you could, in theory, add this field to the form as a checkbox with only the ‘true’ value, this could be misleading. If someone fills in the form and doesn’t tick the opt-in checkbox, we need to actively record a ‘false’ value rather than no value at all. Hence, a custom script is required to achieve this.

Use the following settings on your field:

  • Basic: Set the Label to blank and Required to unchecked. Clicking ‘Load Default Data’ should set the Type to ‘Radio Button’
  • Advanced: Add a Description to explain to visitors your opt in process. Check ‘Always display even if previously completed’ and leave all other options blank/unchecked
  • Values: Your ‘true’ and ‘false’ values should have been populated by the ‘Load Default Data’

3. Segment your mailing lists

Once your field is enabled on all your forms and you’re collecting fully opted-in data, you will need to add the new field as a rule on any of your mailing lists. This will ensure you are only mailing contacts who have explicitly opted in and therefore adhering to great data quality practices.


Segment your prospects with Dynamic Lists


Bear in mind that you may not always need to include an ‘Opted In’ field in the first place to comply. All you need is to demonstrate “a clear affirmative action”. If your form is clearly asking people to enter their email address to sign up to a newsletter or regular product updates, this would be considered clear and affirmative so an additional checkbox would not be required.

Opted in field in action on a Pardot form
The new Opted In field in action

For more detailed information on what the GDPR might mean for you, check out the ICO’s Key areas to consider. If you have any questions about data best practices or would like help with your forms, please get in touch with our Pardot experts.

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