With Europe's new data protection law (GDPR) coming into effect on May 25th, we decided to greatly increase the flexibility afforded to Recollective site administrators when it comes to defining the legally-binding agreements for study participants.
Recollective already had the ability to define a custom panelist agreement, but we've doubled down on this capability to make it more useful and flexible. We expect lots of different, and likely unexpected, uses of our new "Agreements" capability.
In coordination with this capability is a new sales agreement that removes the need for Recollective’s own Terms of Service. Customers are now in full control of the agreements and terms presented to their end users.
We believe that every aspect of the user experience should be simple and user-friendly. Since the experience begins when joining a study, the registration process cannot be ignored.
Recollective has made the definition of legal agreements powerful and flexible for administrators, while keeping it extremely simple for panelists.
To enter the site, participants will always be mandated to accept all agreements marked as "required".
Optional agreements can now be included and are ideal for communication consent statements which must be collected in most countries.
Each agreement is defined as an "Opt-in Statement". This is the text that appears next to the checkbox and typically starts with a positive statement like, "I agree to..." or "I consent to...".
Recollective allows full formatting for this statement so it's easy to include colour, links, bulleted text and even inline images.
To ensure the agreements are not overwhelming, each statement can be linked to a secondary "Agreement Page" which can host additional details. It can contain lengthy legal terms or perhaps a sample of the newsletter being offered as a subscription.
Allowing Panelists to Opt-Out
Importantly, agreements can now be exposed on the "My Account" page. With this option enabled, participants can be permitted to opt-out of a agreement at a later date. Note that if they opt-out of a required agreement, it will be logged as such but the participant will be blocked from re-entering the site until they re-accept.
We recommend placing optional agreements on "My Account" as well. Perhaps a registering participant will want to join the study before agreeing to additional uses of their data and/or consent to communication / subscriptions.
New or revised agreements can be introduced in a site at any time. Existing agreements can be duplicated as a starting point and past agreements can be archived without losing historic response data.
In existing sites, new agreements will start in a draft state. Once activated, all panelists are automatically challenged to respond on their next visit.
As an example, a site may wish to collect a new category of personal data that necessitates additional consent to be granted. The site administrator will only need to define a new agreement and activate it. All returning participants will be asked to agree before proceeding. The acceptance will be carefully logged for reference. If this agreement replaces another, the administrator only needs to "archive" the previous agreement.
Privacy regulations, like Europe's GDPR, often require that consent be confirmed periodically, usually on an annual basis.
Recollective now allows each agreement to have its own schedule for re-confirmation. Once enabled, administrators specify the time interval as a quantity of days (e.g. 365).
Panelists are then automatically asked to re-confirm their acceptance, or non-acceptance, at a set interval. Each response is again logged on their account to ensure a full and accurate history.
Tracking & Filtering
As mentioned earlier, a timestamped record is kept for each response given to the agreements encountered by a panelist. The latest "version" of their acceptance, or non-acceptance, is now a standard panelist attribute. That means administrators can filter panelists based on the agreements they've encountered, their responses and the date of the last response.
Two new attributes are available:
- Agreement Status: Allows filter by agreement and by status
- Agreement Date: Allows filtering by the date of the last agreement response
Using these attributes together, administrators can filter panelists directly or via Smart Segments. Here are some sample filters that might be useful:
- Filter on panelist that have opted-out of a required agreement since May 1st
- Filter on panelists that have agreed to join the newsletter since the last time panelist data was exported
- Filter on panelists who have yet to see a new agreement that was added
We believe the Agreements feature is an important and unique addition to Recollective. It allows our customers to quickly and easily comply with the important legal requirements dictated by their country.
We're not done yet, however, as we have a few more agreement-related enhancements planned:
- Optional notifications of agreement acceptance and non-acceptance
- Customizable Site Notice shown to panelists that opt-out of required agreements
We welcome any feedback you have about this new feature.