Email marketing is a really effective marketing channel that provides the greatest ROI amongst all. Additionally, you have the ability to personalize them based on the past customer interactions and online behavior as well as you can create automated workflows that automatically send specific emails on successful triggers. Even equipped with such immense power, Salesforce Marketing Cloud specialists sometimes face challenges in turning their email campaigns into success.

One of the reasons would be how the prospects are onboarded into the email campaigns. Unless your subscribers are informed about what to expect when they provide their email address to be a part of your subscriber’s list, your emails may not be effective in converting them. Hence, it is important to have permission-based email marketing and this article shall educate you on how to start off on the right foot with opt-in (or permission-based) email marketing.

What is Opt-in Email Marketing and Why is it important?

Opt-in email marketing is when your prospects choose to opt-in and be a part of your subscriber’s list and only send relevant marketing communications to those who have explicitly given permission for them. Most SPAM laws (such as GDPR) dictates that any one who subscribes to a mailing list should give permission to be sent promotional and marketing emails by clicking an unchecked (important) checkbox that asks for the consent.

In the above example, unless the subscriber clicks the acknowledgement, you cannot send them any promotional emails.

The reason for the implementation and adoption of opt-in marketing was the rise of unsolicited emails and unfair practices by email marketers to make that sale. Email marketers would ‘purchase’ pre-curated lists and batch blast their emails to the poor email users. To fight this, many countries came up with their anti-spam laws which fined email marketers a hefty penalty for every unsolicited email they sent. Moreover, Internet Service Provider (ISP) tuned their filters to catch emails that were not subscribed by an email user or have been marked as SPAM by other email users. The SPAM complaints can be reduced by including the request for whitelisting your email address in your free html email templates. If you have a website and you are battling with invalid email addresses added by real visitors, you can clean your list with email verification software. Here’s a Top 10 email verification services compared, visit to know more.

How to start Opt-in Email marketing?

There are two main types of opt-in methods and the only difference is the number of times a subscriber has to approve your request to send promotional emails. In either form of opt-in method, the approach is similar and it begins with incentivizing your prospects to subscribe. The different opt-in methods to build an email list are:

  • Relevant and Engaging Content
  • Asking to subscribe through authority building
  • Gated Content
  • Offering lead generation resources
  • Create a profile during checkout

Relevant and Engaging Content

People browsing your website are looking for solutions to the problem they are facing. Using relevant and engaging content, you can educate your prospects and once they are convinced that you possess the knowledge, they may be motivated to subscribe. Those interested to remain updated with your blog would subscribe. 

Asking to subscribe through authority building

Asking for email subscriptions is not restricted to a single marketing channel. In fact, you can use social media marketing to spread the word about a promotion and encourage people to subscribers to avail the offer. Moreover, by frequently sharing valuable information on other platforms such as forums or comment sections of different blogs, you can increase website traffic to your own blog and increase subscription chances. 

Gated Content

Your content is precious and you can place a price for those needing it. Asking people to subscribe in order to access your content is a good way to rake in a good number of subscribers. This way, you ensure only those genuinely interested in your content would subscribe.

Offering lead generation resources

Your prospects may not have time to periodically spend time on your website and by offering them free lead generation resources such as ebooks, whitepapers, or slides in exchange for their email address, you provide them value addition. From the type of resource downloaded, you can make an assumption regarding the content they may like and this can help you craft relevant emails.

Create a profile during checkout

This is predominantly applicable for those in the ecommerce industry but can be applicable to anyone who has a checkout/order page. Asking your customers to create a profile right while they are browsing can help you get more information about them as well as ensure their enhanced association to your brand.

Irrespective of what method you use to motivate the prospects to subscribe, the next step is an important aspect of the opt-in marketing i.e. asking for subscriber’s consent.

As we stated earlier there are two main types of opt-in methods:

  1. Single Opt-in
  2. Double Opt-in

The only difference is the number of times a subscriber has to approve your request to send promotional emails but each has its own pros and cons.

When your subscriber fills up their information in the sign up form and checks the checkbox allowing you to send promotional and marketing emails, it is considered as a single opt-in. There is no additional action needed from their part as it is assumed that the subscriber is aware of the consequence of checking the checkbox. 

In case of double opt-in, an email is sent immediately as someone subscribes. The subscriber needs to open the email and affirm their subscription by clicking on the link provided in the email. This additional step ensures that the subscriber has read the form and approved the intent for receiving emails by clicking the link in email. 

In the example below by Litmus, when you choose to subscribe, you are redirected to a seperate page where you choose the communications you wish to receive. 

Once you subscribe, you receive the following email. Only when you click the CTA button will you receive their emails.

While the number of steps taken in double opt-in is more, you get a more refined set of subscribers who are genuinely interested in receiving your emails. On the flip side, people may be discouraged from needing to confirm subscriptions. 

In case of single opt-in, people do not need to jump through hoops to be a part of your mailing list but there is an increased chance of fake signups or subscriptions by spambots.

The type of signup you choose depends on your purpose and intent of your email campaigns but it is advised to ‘opt’ for the double opt in signup method.

If this seems to be a tough nut to crack, you can take help of Marketo certified associates or Salesforce email specialists. They will be able to show you the right direction. 

How to improve the optin quality as well as quantity?

In order to practice opt-in email marketing, it is important to build your mailing list with more number of quality signups. Follow the below mentioned steps for increasing the optin quality as well as quantity.

  1. Use custom sign up forms for different pages of your website

Those browsing your product pages would not be interested in receiving email newsletters that list out helpful articles. Similarly, those browsing your blog section would be more interested to signup for downloading that helpful whitepaper. So make sure that you are using custom sign up forms for different pages depending on the purpose of sign-up.

  1. Trigger the FOMO with your freebies

If your subscribers spend a lot of time contemplating on your offer, there is a chance they may not avail it. Unless you make freebies sound unique and of limited availability, your subscribers may not be tempted to sign up for it. Use actionable headlines and put a countdown timer to make your subscriber value it.

  1. Include Customer Testimonials

People gain empathy when they see others like them find success with your offers. Utilize this empathy to motivate them to subscribe. Include helpful customer testimonials in your sign up forms for trust building.

Wrap Up

Permission-based email marketing is not a recent discovery but something that most marketers are unaware about. When you ask for permission to send emails, this makes your subscribers feel valued. Asking for permission during signup alone doesn’t make your email marketing permissive. The trick remains in setting right expectations, maintaining the trust, offering customers to change permissions periodically through preference centers, and always providing value in your emails.

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