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The Ultimate Guide to Using Opt-In Email Lists for Marketing in 2023

Jun 23, 2022

Email marketing has become the main marketing channel for the majority of digital marketers today.

The reason for this is quite simple: along with being a more personal method of communicating with customers and prospects, it also has high ROIs for customers. However, to reap all the benefits of email marketing, you will need to create and grow email opt-in lists.

What is an Opt-In Email List?

An opt-in email list refers to a collection of email lists that contains information subscribers have provided you with willingly. This means that your subscribers are aware that you are adding them to your email list and agree to receive newsletters, mass emails, and other forms of digital communication from you.

bouncer opt in

Since the laws regarding the collection and use of personal data are often changing, employing a double opt-in strategy when growing your email list is a wise idea. 

This simply means that when a new subscriber signs up to receive marketing emails from you, they will receive a confirmation email where they click a link to confirm that they do want to be added to your list.

Along with ensuring that you remain compliant with data collection laws (such as GDPR), the main benefit of this method is that it also ensures that your list is only made up of individuals who actually want to receive and engage with the emails you send.

How to Tell if a List is Opt-in for Email Marketing

One main thing to be aware of is that not every email address in your list is from someone who willingly opted in to be there.

Acting as if every email list is an opt-in list could have serious consequences for your business, so it’s important to know how to determine if your email list is an opt-in email list. Simply put, it is an opt-in email list if your subscribers have given you permission to send the emails by ticking a box or signing up through a form.

On the other hand, if you have been given emails on your website, from online purchases, or on business cards, for example, but do not have permission to send marketing emails to these addresses, then it is not an opt-in email list. This is also the case with email lists that you have purchased or rented – which we absolutely do not recommend.

3 Reasons to Take Newsletter Opt-In Seriously

You may be wondering if it’s really that important to make sure that your email list is opt-in, and why you should take it seriously. Here are the three main reasons why you need to get serious about email opt-in:

You Comply with Regulations

One of the main reasons why you need to take opt-in email seriously is that there are laws that relate to the sending of emails, which are mostly put in place to deter unsolicited email communications. Two of the most common regulations that all email marketers need to be aware of include the GDPR laws in the European Union and the CAN-SPAM Act in the US.

You Get More Engagement

By taking the time to put together an opt-in email newsletter list, you can make sure that a greater number of the subscribers that you are sending emails to are actually interested in the content, products, and services that your brand has to offer. 

As a result, you can achieve an email list that is more highly engaged and generates more profit for your business. This is one of the main reasons to steer clear of unethical practices such as buying or renting email lists, as more often than not, this will be a waste of money as subscribers will rarely engage with your email content.

You Avoid Harming Your Brand Reputation

For the most part, subscribers want as much control over their email inboxes as possible, which means having the ability to regulate the type of emails that they receive. 

When you send email messages to subscribers who have not actually opted in to get correspondence from you, you are running a large risk of being reported for sending spam. As a result of this, you could see your email Sender Score drop, which impacts email deliverability.

What is Double Opt-in?

With double opt-in, a user adds their information to an email marketing list, then an email is sent to this user including a link for them to click to confirm their subscription. 

Only once this confirmation click has been completed will the user be added to the email marketing list officially. By using the double-opt-in or confirmed opt-in method, marketers can reduce the chance of spam trap emails or bot addresses being added to their email lists.

Just because somebody’s email has been added to your marketing list does not always mean that it belongs to a person who is actually interested in subscribing to your newsletter and wants to hear from you. In some cases, bots can sign up for your newsletter or you can get spam trap addresses that can harm your sender’s reputation.

While your email list is likely to be smaller when you are using double opt-in, there is a better chance that you’re only going to be sending emails to subscribers who are engaged and interested.

What is Single Opt-In?

As the name suggests, the single opt-in process only requires a single action to turn a website visitor into a new email newsletter subscriber. This sign-up method is a popular choice with eCommerce websites that have the main aim of collecting numerous website visitor email addresses to send them information that will encourage them to make a purchase.

There are many advantages of single opt-in, including the fact that it allows you to grow your subscriber list quickly and provides subscribers with immediate access to content with fewer steps. 

However, it’s worth noting the disadvantages including legal compliance issues in some countries, poor email list hygiene, and risk of damage to your Sender Score.

How to Create an Email Opt-In Form

There are several steps to follow when it comes to building a successful opt-in email list. These include:

Use Valuable Content to Attract Prospects

Creating original and valuable content for your target audience is one of the most important parts of growing your opt-in email database. You can do this with premium content offers, blog content that is valuable to your target audience, and through establishing a strong company presence on the social media platforms where your prospects tend to spend their time. 

intercom opt in

Intercom offering visitors a spot on their waitlist in exchange for an email address

Content will help you move interested strangers through the funnel to engaged prospects who are interested in proactively adding their email addresses to your list so that they can learn more about your brand over time.

Ask People to Subscribe

Promising to deliver relevant promotions, discounts, industry news, and freebies is one of the best ways to get website visitors to choose to opt-in to receive your marketing communications. Place your opt-in form in highly visible places on your website whenever you are asking prospects to provide their email address and demographic information. 

cognism opt in

Cognism offering their newsletter in a blog post

Some good places for an opt-in form include the website homepage or in the website header and footer. Along with this, you can also consider adding social proof terminology to your forms to increase the chance of people choosing to opt into your database.

Offer Gated Content

Offering ‘gated’ premium content such as industry reports, eBooks and customer case studies is another popular option for encouraging users to sign up through your opt-in form.

hubspot opt in

Hubspot offering their latest report behind an opt-in email gate

Gating content means that customers are then required to submit their email addresses using a form to receive content and agree to sign up to your email list in the process. This can be a very effective way to build your database if you have premium content on offer.

Use Other Email Lists

If you have several newsletters or have email lists that are not opt-in, you can use these to build bigger opt-in lists. For example, you could get in touch with prospects that you have email addresses for to let them know about your email newsletter and give them the opportunity to opt-in if they are interested. Or, if you have multiple email newsletters for your brand, you can advertise new ones in your current newsletters to get opt-ins from interested subscribers.

Offer the Option to Subscribe During Checkout

It can often seem like it is more difficult to get email subscribers if you are running an eCommerce store; however, this does not have to be the case. 

You can include a box that customers can check during the checkout process in order to subscribe to your email newsletter list. Since the user is already going to be filling out a form containing their email and other personal information in order to buy a product, having a check box for your email newsletter is a great way to build your list and the best part is that these are interested customers who are already making purchases from your brand.

When sending marketing emails, there are several important reasons why you should always make sure you have an opt-in email list.


Wrapping up

Opt-in email lists are one of the most effective ways to get high-quality subscribers that will engage with your content and purchase from you. If you care about the legality of your email marketing and the happiness of your customers, using email opt-in lists is something you should be doing today.

However, it can happen that addresses get stale – they get outdated, people leave companies, some addresses get deleted, etc. You don’t want to send any emails to these addresses, and Bouncer helps you find out which of them to delete.

With Bouncer, you can scan and clean up your email lists in minutes. Quickly find out which addresses are valid and which ones you should remove for better email marketing results.

email blacklist

Sign up for your free trial today!

Frequently asked questions

Is a double email opt-in necessary?

It depends. It’s a good practice for opt-in email marketing because you’ll be complying with GDPR. As subscribers need to confirm their opt-in, you will get fewer people on your list, but the list will be more quality. On the other hand, subscribers have to confirm their subscription, and the confirmation email often goes to spam. So, determine what is more important for you and go from there.

What is the most effective lead magnet to offer to someone and get them to opt in?

Once again, it depends on your business and the type of customers. However, aim for something that is hugely valuable for your audience because their email address is one of the most precious things they can give you. For example, for B2B marketers, a cheat sheet on how to halve their PPC costs in one month – would be an amazing lead magnet that would yield tons of email addresses.

How do I create an email opt-in form?

It depends on the email marketing tool that you’re using. For example, a tool such as Mailchimp will provide a line of code that you can add to your website where visitors can leave their emails. Moreover, you can use a dedicated tool for collecting emails, such as Sumo, Poptin, or Wisepops. However, each of these tools needs to be connected to an email marketing app as well, so you can effectively build lists.

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