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Opt-In Email Campaigns
Jun 28, 2004

You may have heard that opt-in email is important, but what does it mean and how do you set up a program? This article explains the opt-in basics.  Opt-in email campaigns can be very effective in email marketing and viral marketing.

What Does It Mean to Opt-in?

In an opt-in email system, a an existing customer or a new visitor to a commercial website is offered a choice or a set of choices and, in response, explicitly agrees to receive email communications. Sometimes the user is asked for blanket permission or sometimes the choices are more specific in terms of both genre (for example, a newsletter or coupons) and the frequency (for example, bimonthly).

You can offer users a whole range of choices, but one of them must be an opt-out choice Among the choices you offer, however many there are, there must be an opt-out choice to allow your visitor to indicate that he or she wants no email communication. The reason you must include this choice is because this article has all rights reserved and is copyright by 100 Best it is one of the key elements that prevents commercial email from being spam, as mandated by the CAN-SPAM Act  of 2003 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act). Making any choice other than the opt-out choice is what is referred to as "opting in."

"Double Opt-In"

But, you're not homefree yet. Why not? Suppose someone came to your site and entered somebody else's email address. How would you know? Or suppose someone accidentally made a typo in their own email address? Again: how would you know? A simple submission of an address (referred to as an "unconfirmed opt-in") has important limitations that could leave you unknowingly sending email to someone who didn't want to receive it. Even though you didn't know, it would still be spam.

There are two ways to protect yourself from falling into this trap, with the second being a better choice than the first, according to "best practice" experts. The first approach, called "single opt-in," is to send a new subscriber a confirmation email. If the subscriber does not send it back with an opt-out choice, then the unconfirmed opt-in is considered to be confirmed. But because the confirmation is obtained by the users inaction, many people feel that this is not good enough.

So these people recommend "double opt-in," also known as "confirmed subscription," "Confirmed Opt-In" (COI), or "closed loop opt-in." With this approach, the confirmation email requires a positive response for the subscriber to be added to the mailing list, and the webmaster is assured that mail is going to users who intend to receive it and no one else.

Opt-in Email Campaigns

A number of companies that offer opt-in email campaign support are there to help you if this is not a task you can take on yourself. From the sign-up forms to the management of your mailing list to providing templates for your newsletters and analytics to help you plan your next campaign, these companies can contribute to advertising success. If you're interested in this possibility, here are a few to check, remembering that it's important to check reviews and user comments before hiring any vendor.

• AWeber Communications (

• Constant Content (

• EmailLabs ( and check out their articles, too!

• Marketers Choice (

Avoiding Spam

The other spam question that arises with opt-in email is assuring that the contents don't register as spam. One way to check this is to use a service that checksyour email, like GravityMail (, which is free. Another method that can help you check is to open accounts with a variety of ISPs and you're your email to yourself as a test: does your ISP let it through? Does your mail client? If so, armed with your opt-in mailing list, you're good to go.


Related Web Tools:
Marketing with Opt-in Email

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