When you visit a website, you’ll often see a pop-up window presenting the option to enter your email address to receive a discount or free shipping. After entering your email address, you can take advantage of any sales incentive offered and expect to receive marketing emails from the company.
For a business with an online presence, opt-in email marketing is a way to reach prospects who have already shown interest in your products or services, and are more likely to buy. Here’s a deeper look at opt-in marketing and what both prospects and sellers should know, along with tips on how sellers can maximize opt-in rates and optimize successful customer engagement with subsequent emails.
“Opt-in email marketing is the process of using email collection methods to capture email addresses from potential customers, also known as prospects,” said Ali Scarlett, certified networking expert, author and entrepreneur. “Once you have that prospect’s email, you can market your products or services to them via email.”
Typically, email collection is permission-based, meaning the website will ask a visitor to enter their email address and fully disclose the types of emails they can expect to receive. However, Scarlett cautions that it’s possible these days to buy email marketing lists without the permission of the people holding those email addresses.
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Opt-in email marketing is a significant experience for both the prospect and the seller.
“For the prospect, [opt-in email marketing is] important because they’ll be receiving emails about products or services they’ll likely be interested in,” Scarlett said. “For the seller, it’s important because email marketing is a low-cost, time-efficient, easily scalable way to market their products or services.”
Another reason an opt-in email process is valuable is that it means a website’s customers and visitors are aware you’re collecting their information, acknowledging this through an opt-in form, according to Katie Melissa, owner and founder of Elite Automation LLC.
“By agreeing to an opt-in prompt, it means the user is accepting and consenting to receiving future emails from you and handing over their email address and potentially other data being captured,” she said.
Scarlett also noted that the list of opt-in email marketing benefits is seemingly endless, but money, connections and higher engagement opportunities are among the most significant.
The opt-in email process means website customers and visitors know and accept that they’ll be receiving future emails, and there’s a good chance they’re interested in the company’s products and services.
Money is an obvious benefit of opt-in email marketing. Opt-in email systems often start with a discount offer, which means an immediate initial purchase is more likely. Future emails alert the prospect to sales, new products and more opportunities, which may result in an ongoing sales relationship.
Connections aren’t as straightforward, but they’re still a major benefit.
“You get money whenever you send out a marketing email and someone buys,” Scarlett explained. “You get connections whenever people find out you have a good-sized list because that sets up opportunities where you can offer to promote other people’s products to your list as a way of building a relationship with them.”
Make sure prospects and customers are aware if their email addresses are being shared with other businesses, and that you share email addresses only with reputable companies.
John Greving, head of content and SEO at IWD Agency, noted that another benefit of an opt-in email list is that it ensures you can always access a specific segment of your market that you don’t have to chase, whether that be via Google, Twitter, YouTube or another platform.
“Whereas other marketing campaigns need to begin with considering how the business will get the attention of its prospects, a robust opt-in email list means that step is already covered,” Greving said. “All you have to do is write an email and send it to them. It doesn’t get much easier. As they’ve opted in for these kinds of emails, the likelihood of seeing high open rates, click-through rates and conversions [is] high.”
There are several types of opt-in email processes.
Single opt-in is the most familiar. The prospect enters their email address into the collection form and is added to the email marketing list.
You’ve probably experienced double opt-in emails without even realizing it, Scarlett shared. “A double opt-in email is when someone signs up for an email marketing list, and then an email is sent out to that person [with] a link to confirm the subscription. Then, when the confirmation is completed, that person is officially added to the email marketing list.”
While some prospects won’t complete that second step, the seller can be assured that those who do are genuinely interested in the seller’s products or services.
Implicit opt-ins are usually generated when someone fills out a form.
While there are a few ways to opt in to marketing emails, people also can opt out if they decide they no longer want to receive those emails.
“Email opt-out is where you unsubscribe from an email list, which causes you to ‘opt out’ of any future marketing emails from that sender,” Scarlett said.
Email marketing in the age of digital privacy laws, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), means that those sending emails must obey specific requirements.
“In order to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, all marketers are required to include an option to opt out of every email,” said Leanne Scott, founder of Passive Income Superstars. “It can also be beneficial to offer the option to opt out from emails about a specific subject or product that someone has no interest in. This can result in lower unsubscribe rates.”
There are several ways to ensure potential customers sign up for your marketing emails.
This strategy is the bread and butter of marketing, and marketing emails are no different.
“Your secret sauce is going to be in your customer research,” Scarlett said. “When you email back and forth with customers about your products or meet with them one-on-one, you’ll start to hear a recurrence of certain phrases as you begin to ask more questions – phrases that describe how they’re feeling about the problem you’re looking to solve for them with your product.”
When you can offer a solution to a prospect’s issue, they will be more likely to sign up for your marketing emails.
Offering something of value in exchange for agreeing to receive marketing emails is a solid strategy.
“Offer something enticing in exchange for their email address, and possibly other valuable data,” Melissa said. “You can boost your email opt-ins by luring users in with an appealing offer. For example, you can provide a free coaching session, a free tips and tricks guide, or a discount on your product or service in exchange for their email.”
The key to offering incentives for opt-in emails is to make sure it’s not a one-time deal. If it’s a one-time enticement, customers may unsubscribe as soon as they’ve redeemed your initial offer.
If your opt-in form is inviting and looks trustworthy, people are more likely to sign up for your emails. To determine if your email form is ideal, A/B test your email form.
Have two different versions of your opt-in form to see which one draws the most subscribers. Change the imagery, the call to action, and even the colors and fonts. Once you’ve determined which form has performed the best, make that your website’s opt-in form moving forward.
Greving said that nothing will help you more than proving you’re an authority in your field.
“[Being an authority] can mean having a big social media following or a large YouTube audience,” he said. “Having guest posts show up again and again on industry websites or simply having a popular blog on your own are both helpful, too. Offering actionable advice that is unique in your market will prove to prospects that your emails are going to be equally valuable.”
There’s a fine line between sending enough emails to encourage your subscribers to click through to your website and sending too many, to the point where recipients get annoyed and unsubscribe. This is one of the key tenets of email marketing best practices.
Even though these customers have purposely signed up for your marketing emails, if they receive too many or start receiving ones that aren’t relevant to them, they no longer see a benefit.
It might seem counterintuitive to market your marketing emails, but in a way, that’s what you have to do to increase your opt-in email numbers.
Datis Mohsenipour, director of marketing at HeyOrca, and Bev Feldman, email marketing technology consultant and strategist at Your Personal Tech Fairy, offered several ways you can boost your email opt-ins:
“The best examples of opt-in emails will help to address one of the following goals – to increase health, wealth, or happiness; save time; or improve relationships,” Scott said.
Here are a few examples of successful opt-in and post-opt-in emails.
Scott used selling home exercise equipment as an example of how to offer a freebie. The company might offer a free home workout plan in exchange for a prospect opting in to its email marketing list. In subsequent emails, before promoting their products, the company could deliver exercise tips or set challenges for their subscribers to keep them motivated.
Greving advises marketers to keep it simple when sending a post-opt-in email. “You can send a welcome email that advertises all the wonderful information the reader will be receiving in the future. You can send a video to convey this as well.”
Always follow through on any promises you’ve made to the prospect. Feldman shared that after someone opts in to her email marketing list, she sends out an email with a link to the course the subscriber signed up for. Note that this process is a double opt-in, as there’s a link to confirm the email subscription.