To opt-in is to allow an organization to add your email address to their mailing list. If you choose not to opt-in, you instead opt-out, and do not give persmission for the organizations to send you email.
To opt-in is to give a website permission to send you email. Typically, opting-in is done when a website visitor enters their email address into a mailing list signup form, or when they select a checkbox to be added to a mailing list while registering for an account with the website.
In some cases, the first email sent to a new mailing list subscriber will be a confirmation email. The receiver of the email will have to confirm that they want to be added to the mailing list by clicking on a link in the confirmation email. If they don't click the confirmation link, they will not be added to the mailing list. Mailing lists that use a confirmation email are called double opt-in mailing lists and help ensure that email addresses aren't added to a mailing list without the email users' permission.
The language used to encourage website visitor to opt-in to a mailing list varies from one website to the next. The most effective opt-in forms are personalized for the website on which they appear. Here are a few examples of opt-in language from around the web:
- The Daily Positive: “Get the Daily Positive: A positive thought in the morning could change your whole day”
- Alex Beadon: “Join the Spark Lounge Now (it's Free!): Get instant access to the most inspirational ride of your life. It's time to get your business off the ground so that you can live the life of freedom that you've always wanted.”
- Kontrary: “Want no-BS insights on earning more money and finding peace? Jump off that hamster wheel and join more than one-thousand folks taking control of their work and life.”
- LKR Social Media: “‘Yours is the only newsletter that I actually read.' That's what we hear over and over again from our subscribers. Join the ranks of small business owners bringing in leads from social media each and every week. Signup here for FREE instant access:”
- Lewis Howes: “Start Living the Dream Now!”
Frequently Asked Questions
I opted-in but have changed my mind. How do I now opt-out?
In the United States, Canada, and Europe there are laws requiring that all marketing messages include a means to unsubscribe or opt-out of receiving future messages. If you signed up for a mailing list and now want to opt-out, look for a link in the footer of the message that says something like “opt-out”, “unsubscribe”, or “update email preferences”.
Why do websites offer the option to opt-in or out?
There are both legal and practical reasons why websites avoid adding email addresses to a mailing list until the owner of the email address has opted-in.
In Europe and Canada there are laws on the books that require opt-in prior to adding an email address to a mailing list. In the United States, opting-in is not legally required, but a means to opt-out is legally required.
Practially speaking, if you receive email that you did not intentionally sign-up for there is very little chance that you will read the message. Most email users receive enough spam messages to automatically consider any unexpected message spam, and delete it without opening it. As a result, if an organization wants to build a useful mailing list, using an opt-in mechanism will help ensure that the email addresses on the list should actually be there.