What is an “Opt-In” Email List?

What is an “Opt-In” Email List?

In the heat of the moment we may have assumed that everyone understands an “Opt-In Email List”. To make sure we all understand the concept of “opt-in” we have prepared the following article for your use and consideration.


The majority of email marketing service providers require that your contact list be an opt-in list. This means that all of your contacts must have willingly given you their email address, with the knowledge that they would be added to your list and receive mass emails from you. Usually, contacts sign up using an online subscription form.


A “double opt-in list,” which is preferred, means that every person who signed up to be on your email list was also subsequently sent an individual “confirmation” email, which asked them one more time to confirm that they did indeed want their email address to be added to your list. This improves the quality of your list greatly, as it ensures that no individual was added to your list against his or her will.


How can you tell if your email list is an opt-in list?


That depends on how you have obtained your list, and the process that contacts went through when they gave you their email address.


  • Contacts who signed up using a subscription form on my website. If you have a subscription form on your website, which clearly states, “fill out this form to sign up to our email newsletter,” (for example) so that individuals are aware that they are signing up to an email list, is definitely an opt-in list.


  • Customers who checked a box saying “please add me to your email list” when submitting a form on my website. Any customers of yours who submit a form on your website (such as when signing up for an account, or placing an order), and select an option saying “yes, add me to your email list” (for example) when filling out this form, are considered opted-in. However, it must be explicitly stated that they are agreeing to receive a newsletter and/or email marketing campaigns from you. It is also best to send a follow-up confirmation email to ensure they qualify as “double opt-in” when using this method, to be absolutely sure they did not check that box by accident.


  • Lists obtained from business cards at tradeshows. No, this is not an opt-in list.


  • Customers who have purchased products or services from you. Usually, this is not an opt-in list. The only instance in which this would be considered an opt-in list would be if a contact checked a box when he or she originally gave you his or her email address, stating, “yes, I would like to subscribe to your email list,” as mentioned above.


  • Members on my website or forum. Again, this is not an opt-in list, unless these individuals checked a “yes, I would like to subscribe to your email list” box when signing up.


  • My Facebook friends (or friends on other social networking sites). No, under no circumstances is this an opt-in list.


  • Contacts in my email address book. No, this is not an opt-in list.


  • Purchased or rented lists. Purchased lists are not considered opt-in under any circumstances.