A key component of your Omnilert notification service is the subscriber data contained within it. This is the list of names, cell numbers, email addresses, and groupings of subscribers within the account.
Obviously, this data must come from somewhere. Deciding how to collect and maintain subscriber info is a key decision in your implementation process.
Omnilert provides a wide array of options in this regard.
The first question that needs to be asked and answered is "Are we going to use Opt-out or Opt-in?"
Let's take a look at each option...
In an "opt-out" system, subscriber data is loaded into Omnilert by an administrator, API, or CSV file upload. One quick upload and the system is off and running.
This upload can be a manual process or automated via Omnilert's FTP client feature.
In any case, the subscribers are added with their contact info and must "opt-out" to stop receiving alerts. Since subscribers are all uploaded, the system can be populated with 100% of your subscribers in an instant.
However, opt-out requires the institution (the admins) to collect and maintain all subscriber info; phone numbers, email addresses, etc.
While the data can be populated quickly, your alert system is only as good as that data! With opt-out, there's a lot more work in making sure you're uploading accurate, legally obtained, and clean data.
In an "Opt-in" system, subscribers self-manage their info. They log in and/or create their own accounts and maintain their own subscriber information. Typically, this can be done via the Subscriber Portal, Single Sign-On, or even mobile opt-in.
Opt-In is typically a bit slower to populate, since subscribers must go and sign up or log in to add their contact info.
You may see less participation with an opt-in system for this reason, as well.
However, the data is essentially "self maintaining" and the Omnilert validation process ensures that all subscriber phones and email addresses are correct.
Which is better?
The key question we often hear is "Which method is the best?"
The answer to that is "It depends on your situation."
You see, the data management solution that works for your organization may differ from other organizations.
There are several factors that can help you choose the right path. Ask yourself the following questions and the answers might help:
1. Do you have good data?
It may seem obvious, but do you actually an up-to-date, complete source of subscriber info? Many institutions we work with might think that they have a solid database of cell phones and email address, but later find that there's gaps.
If you don't have solid data to upload, we recommend opt-in.
If you have meticulously collected data for your community, continue on...
2. Do you have a way to keep that data updated?
Do you have some way to ensure that your subscribers will keep that contact info updated? If your HR database never gets updated and that data gets stale, so will that info your alert system.
If keeping subscriber data current is a concern, we recommend opt-in so that you can take advantage of the Subscriber Portal's features and let your subscribers maintain their own contact info in Omnilert.
If your data is up-to-date in your own systems, keep reading!
3. Are you allowed to use that contact info that you've collected?
Omnilert is firmly anti-spam. We hate spam, like eveyone else does! If you've collected phone numbers and email addresses, you'll want to check that you'd collected that info in a legal and honest way. That is your responsibility when uploading data for your subscribers.
If your'e not permitted to upload the data that you have, of course, we recommend opt-in
If that's all in order... let's move along!
4. Who will "own" this process and the management of that data?
It's been our experience that successful implementations typically happen when someone specific "owns" the process. If nobody has responsibility to make sure things work, then data doesn't get updated and your Omnilert messages become less and less accurate as contact info gets outdated.
Remember, opt-in puts that responsibility in the hands of the community. If there's nobody on staff who can keep your alert system on-track, you might want to consider a self-serve, opt-in setup.
Likewise, if you have an "owner" for the process, good data, and the means to send it to Omnilert, then you should be in good shape to go with opt-out.
In the end, both methods have their distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Opt-out provides a speedy path to a full database and, if you have the data available, can be a great fit. With features like the FTP Upload utility, subscriber management can be automated, providing a hands-free, always-up-to-date alert system.
However, not everyone has all the data needed or time and resources to collect contact info...
Opt-in puts the responsibility for managing contact info into your subscribers hands and works great for organizations with a transient population or those that just don't collect the info needed to send alerts. With options like the subscriber portal and mobile opt-in, Omnilert can provide a very robust opt-in system.
What Omnilert's team can do for you...
Be sure to work with your Omnilert Account Manager to choose the option that fits your needs. Our team will be able to guide you through the options available to help make these crucial decisions easier.
If your goal is to be "opt-out", but you don't have the data collected, you might try going with an opt-in setup for a while until you're ready.
Do not worry so much about method used, but rather look at reaching outcome desired. We want to guide you to the best, simplest, and most effective solution for your community.