In our last blog we talked about the importance of having a clear and effective opt-out process in your email campaigns. Today it’s all about the opt-in! Let’s talk about what types of opt-in there are, why it’s so important, and how to do it right. Also, if you read the title of this blog to the tune of the 1997 Puff Daddy hit “It’s All About the Benjamins” then I’m proud of you.


I’m just going to tell it how it is. Don’t be upset with me.pizza_emails

  1. People who haven’t outright asked for your emails generally do not want your emails. Sorry, it’s just the way it is.
  2. If you email people who do not want your communication, they will do whatever they can to stop receiving those emails.
  3. If your opt-in process is tricky or just not explicit enough, customers don’t feel they have given you consent to email them. This feels like a violation of their privacy and they will mark you as spam and/or unsubscribe with no regrets.
  4. The average consumer does not know or care about the difference between marking as spam vs. unsubscribing.
  5. When you repeatedly get marked as spam, it will damage your IP reputation and email deliverability. These are not easy to repair.



An opt-in is implicit when it is included in your privacy policy and doesn’t require further action from the customer to actually opt-in. By accepting the privacy policy or terms and conditions, the customer is accepting that you will email them. This is implicit because more likely than not, the customer didn’t actually read the privacy policy.


When your customer has to follow one step to start receiving emails, it is a single opt-in. This could be entering their email address when prompted to sign up for your mailing list. It could be checking a box that they do want to receive marketing emails when they are signing up or paying for a different service on your site.


An opt-in is only explicit when it requires action on the customer’s part and directly states that they are opting in to an email list.


This is the unicorn of opt-ins. Take your explicit opt-in, then send them a confirmation email. When they click the verification link, you then have a confirmed explicit opt-in.


With different types of opt-in come different levels of engagement.

  • If your list is created solely on implicit opt-ins, do not be surprised when your open rate and click-through rate are very low and your unsubscribe rate is high.
  • Implicit opt-ins will result in the largest list, but not necessarily the best or most engaged list.
  • Be aware that implicit opt-in and single opt-in methods can result in a list packed with disengaged and undeliverable email addresses due to spam bots, disposable email addresses, typos, and email addresses added by third parties that do not own them.

Just because someone gives you their email address does not mean that they want to be on your mailing list.

  • When someone enters their email for transactional purposes, you should only send them transactional emails. Order confirmation, login information, shipping notice, etc.
  • You should only send them marketing emails if they explicitly asked for them (best option), they didn’t un-check the little box that stated you would send them (okay option) or it is stated in your privacy policy that they agreed to (…at least you’re compliant.)
  • If you do not make the distinction in your sign up processes, you are the bad guy. If you end up non-compliant the responsibility will be on your shoulders.


  1. Do not purchase email lists from third parties.
  2. Do not be tricky about your opt-in processes.
  3. If you get email addresses from anywhere other than your sign-up form on your site, state how in your initial contact. This could be an event you sponsored, a partnership, etc.
  4. Build a confirmed, engaged list and shoot for QUALITY over QUANTITY when it comes to contacts.
  5. Offer options for unsubscribing if you have multiple types of email campaigns that go out.

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to having happier email subscribers and a more engaged list!


The Problem with Implicit Opt-In

Email Marketing Best Practices: Are you In or Out?

Single vs. Confirmed Opt-In Lists

How to Stop Buying Lists

Understanding the Double Opt-In Process