Opt-in Emails: A Beginner’s Guide 

opt-in email

Email marketing is a fantastic way to keep your customers in the loop and engaged with your brand. But you’ll only get results if you do it the right way: forming genuine connections that start with a simple yet powerful ‘yes’ from your audience — aka, opt-in email marketing. 

So, let’s take the first step toward building an engaged audience. 

What Is Opt-in Email Marketing?

Opt-in email marketing is when you get permission from people before you send them marketing emails. This way, only those genuinely interested and have given their okay will receive your emails.

Opt-in comes in two flavors: single and double.

Single Opt-in: One-Step Welcome

Single opt-in is where someone gives you their email address, and you start sending them emails. 

For example, someone might visit a tech gadget website and drop their email address to get updates on the latest gadgets. Or they might go to a music festival, see a booth for a popular band, and find a sign-up sheet to get updates on their future concerts and albums.

Single opt-in is straightforward, but it has a couple of downsides. For one, you might end up with fake or incorrect email addresses since people don’t have to confirm their addresses. Plus, some people might forget they willingly signed up and get annoyed when they start getting your emails. This isn’t great if you’re trying to build a good relationship with your audience.

Double Opt-in: Confirmed Connection 

With double opt-in, after someone gives you their email address, you send them a confirmation email to make sure they genuinely want to be on your list. They click on a link to confirm, and then they’re in. 

This way, the person browsing that tech gadget website gets an email to confirm their subscription. And what about the person who signed up at the music festival? Later, while they’re reminiscing about the festival, they get an email asking if they want updates from the band. They click to confirm, and now they won’t miss out on any news about upcoming concerts or albums.

Double opt-in is a tad more effort, but it’s a solid way to know that the people on your list are truly interested and aren’t just passing by. Plus, it can help keep your email list clean and engaged, which is a win-win for you and your audience!

Maintaining a clean email list is a continuous process. People may change their email accounts or lose interest in your content. And if you keep sending emails to these accounts, there’s a higher chance of your emails being marked as spam. Campaign Refinery has an automatic list-cleaning tool that removes harmful emails before sending them out. So, your sender reputation won’t take a hit as you grow. 

Is Opt-in Required for Email Marketing?

Opt-in is required in many counties because sending unsolicited marketing emails is against the law. For example, in the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mandates that you can’t send EU residents marketing emails without their consent. 

While the US doesn’t have a law that outright bans sending emails without consent, opting for opt-in email marketing is a wise move.

What’s more, come February 2024, Google and Yahoo are introducing new rules to fight spam. They’ll require bulk email senders to authenticate their emails using established best practices, like DMARC, SPF, and DKIM. They’re doing this to cut down on unwanted emails. So, if you’re planning to do any form of email marketing, you’ll need to obtain consent. 

Beyond just staying on the right side of the law and making sure your emails don’t end up in the spam folder, getting people to opt-in before you email them has a few other perks:

  • Brand reputation: When people choose to receive emails from you, it shows they’re interested, and they’re more likely to trust you.  
  • Better engagement: People who have opted in are more likely to read and interact with your emails. So, you’ll see more clicks and maybe even more sales.
  • Quality over quantity: An opt-in list is like having a VIP list of folks who are genuinely interested in what you’ve got to say. It’s not just a list of random emails, but a list of potential customers who care about your brand.

At Campaign Refinery, we hate spam. Even before Google stepped up against unsolicited emails, we had strong rules against it. We make sure our clients only send emails to people who have consented to receiving them. And if someone breaks this rule, we terminate their account. We do this to maintain the integrity of our exclusive platform and make sure all our clients can get their emails delivered to the right inboxes.

Interested in our exclusive services? Apply to become a Campaign Refinery customer.

What is Opt-out in Email Marketing? 

Opt-out in email marketing allows people to express that they don’t want to receive your emails anymore. 

Every marketing email you send out has to have this option, such as a button or a link, usually at the bottom, that says “unsubscribe.” When someone clicks on it, you should take them off your list and redirect them to a page that confirms their choice. 

Removing people from your list might seem like you’re just shrinking your audience, but it’s actually a smart move. A cleaner list means you’re not wasting time and resources sending messages to people who aren’t interested. You’ll have a lower bounce rate, and your email marketing efforts will be more efficient. 

Plus, letting people opt out isn’t just a best practice. According to the CAN-SPAM Act in the US, it’s a legal requirement. 

How To Get the Most Out of Your Opt-in Email Marketing + Opt-in Form Examples 

When inviting people to opt-in to your emails, a few best practices can go a long way to make sure you attract the right crowd and set the stage for a more engaging relationship. 

1. Let Them Know What’s Coming

When a person is considering whether to give you their email address, they’ll want to know what they’re signing up for. So, on the opt-in form, describe what type of emails they’ll receive and how often they’ll hear from you. For instance, you could say, “Sign up to receive our weekly blog updates and a monthly newsletter with exclusive tips!”

Sign up for our email example with a photo and a sign up form
Sign up for our emails — An example by Unplug

2. Make Opting-In Simple 

A straightforward opt-in process encourages more people to sign up. Here are a few pointers:

  • Keep it simple: Don’t ask for too much information upfront; an email address and maybe a first name is a good start.
  • Well-timed pop-up: Have a subtle pop-up with the opt-in form appear at the right time, like after they’ve been on your page for a minute or two or when they’re about to leave.
  • Easy to find form: If you don’t want to use pop-ups, make sure the opt-in form is easy to find and out of the way so it doesn’t interrupt your site’s UX — for example, a sticky footer or a sidebar. 

Check out this example from the Marketmilk blog. It’s direct, brief, and only asks for your email address.  

Easy opt-in with email form — Marketmilk

3. Tempt Them With a Treat

Who doesn’t love a good freebie? Offering an incentive, aka a lead magnet, like a free ebook, a discount, or exclusive access can encourage people to sign up and grow your email list. You can even get creative and inject some fun into the sign-up process by creating a quiz or puzzle. But make sure your offer aligns with your audience’s interests and needs. 

Here’s a playful example by Sorted, the wealth guidance service sponsored by the government of New Zealand. 

Offer a treat to new subscribers — A subtle way
Offer a treat to new subscribers — A Sorted way

4. Set Clear Terms with Lead Magnets

When offering a lead magnet, let your users know they’ll also be getting your marketing emails. 

If it makes sense for your business, you could give them an option to opt-out of the marketing emails and just grab the freebie. This way, you respect their choice and keep a more focused list of subscribers.

The sustainable clothing brand Tentree does a great job of letting people know what they’re signing up for. 

Offer incentive in your lead magnets discounts and deals
Offer incentive in your lead magnets — Tentree

5. Implement Double Opt-In

We’ve already talked about the benefits of double opt-in. When creating your opt-in process, include a double opt-in system to ensure your subscribers genuinely want to engage with your content. 

Keep the design simple and clutter-free. Make sure to explain why your new subscribers have to confirm their email addresses. You can even include another incentive here to thank people for their effort. 

Here’s an example to inspire you. It’s the confirmation email sent by an independent SEO coach for a free webinar. 

SEO coach confirmation email
SEO coach confirmation email

Explicit vs. Implicit Consent 

When you’re doing email marketing, it matters how you get people to give you their email addresses. Explicit consent is when someone clearly says they want to get your marketing emails. They fill out an opt-in form or tick a box that says, “Yes, send me promotional emails.”

On the other hand, implicit consent is when someone gives you their email address but doesn’t specifically say they want to receive marketing emails from you. For example, they might provide their email to make a purchase or create an account on your website. 

Here’s a quick comparison to highlight the differences: 

Implicit ConsentExplicit Consent
ClarityNot so clear because they didn’t agree to receive marketing emails.Clear because they actively agreed to receive marketing emails.
EngagementLikely less because they might not be interested in marketing emails.Likely more because they showed interest in receiving marketing emails.
ComplianceMight not comply with stricter email marketing laws and regulations.More likely to comply with email marketing laws and regulations.
Risk of SpamHigher chance of being marked as spam.Lower chance of being marked as spam.
Implicit vs. Explicit Consent

Build Your Opt-in Email List With Campaign Refinery 

Opt-in email marketing is all about getting clear consent from individuals before you start sending them marketing emails. It’s a respectful and legal way to build a solid list of people genuinely interested in what you have to say. 

Now, taking this opt-in approach to the next level requires a robust platform and expert guidance. And this is where we can help the most. 

Campaign Refinery doesn’t just provide a platform for email marketing. Once you qualify to become our client, we help refine and optimize your opt-in email marketing strategies. With us, you’re leveraging a high-performance email solution specializing in deliverability for large senders. 

To help you get started, we’ve crafted a mini-course to amplify your lead magnet strategy, which is a core part of opt-in marketing. 

Sign up for the Lead Magnet Multiplier to discover: 

  • Strategies to create tempting lead magnets.
  • The secrets to getting 7.5x more clicks. 
  • How to use psychology to boost engagement. 

Unlock the Power of Opt-in with Lead Magnet Multiplier

Cheers to your success!

Written by Casper Feeney

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