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What Does Opt-In Really Mean?

June 29, 2011  

The debate between opt-in and opt-out email marketing strategies isn't simply about one choice or another. The reason? Any two marketers might have strikingly different definitions of opt-in. "[N]ot all opt-ins are created equal," writes Maria Pergolino at Marketo. "In fact, it's quite the opposite." What one marketer considers strong opt-in permission might be, from another marketer's perspective, barely up to CAN-SPAM standards.

Get on the same page by determining which opt-in category you're discussing:

Unconfirmed opt-in. This is as close to opt-out as opt-in gets because visitors don't actively subscribe to your newsletters or offers. Instead, their addresses are added to your list when they register at your website for other reasons—like downloading white papers. "You may be in keeping with the law but you're not getting high marks for credibility," Pergolino notes.

Single-confirmation opt-in. With this much better option, you add visitors' addresses to your list only when they actively subscribe by checking—or not un-checking—a box. "To make that opt-in easier," she advises, "have the permission box pre-checked and be sure to highlight all the reasons they will benefit from continuing a dialogue with you."

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  • by MrKlein Wed Jun 29, 2011 via web

    IMO, your single opt-in is wrong. The user should have to check the box to subscribe, not uncheck.

    I don't know how many times I've registered (or my members) with a website only to fly through registration and simply look for that submit button.

    Making the user check to subscribe requires a conscience effort on his or her part, and there's no doubt that a subscription was wanted.

    A double-opt in would require a check mark and a click on the activation link.

    Making the user check to subscribe definitely reduces the size of your list, but you get more quality subscribers. Quality over quantity.

  • by Shane McGeorge Wed Jun 29, 2011 via web

    I agree with the above post.

    Also the ACMA guidelines strictly prohibit you to "pre-tick" any subscription box. Not to mention this be behavior can land yourself with a LARGE fine for breaching these regulations.

  • by Jordon Tue Aug 30, 2011 via web

    "The debate between opt-in and opt-out email marketing strategies isn't simply about one choice or another. The reason? Any two marketers might have strikingly different definitions of opt-in."

    ...If you're an email marketer, there's no debate between an opt in or opt out unless youíre a spammer trying to game the system. There are serious holes in this article. Also, auto-checked boxes are a terrible idea by the way.
    The whole point of an effective email campaign is to maintain low bounce, low spam, high deliverability, and most importantly (you got it!) loyal followers!
    Yes, the people that gave permission to get your email because you are giving them something valuable, which means theyíre repeat consumers/clients and will gladly refer you should you run a referral-based campaign.
    So you see, no matter how tricky you get with your opt-ins, it doesn't matter because your real job is to get subscribers. Opt-in/opt-out tricks are exactly what they are: GREY/BLACK HAT. Double opt-ins are the only way to go. Unless of course you want to risk getting blacklisted by the ISPs.
    Itís amazing how complex people make out email marketing. Itís really quite simple and the bottom line is this: People care about their email inbox.
    And what do you do when you receive unsolicited email because you forgot to uncheck a pre-checked opt-in?

    ...Exactly, you junk it.

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