Updated for 2017
Most email marketing services require an opt in email list for newsletters and subscriptions. All of your subscribers must have chosen to give you their email address and any other required information, knowing that they would be added to your email or newsletter list and as a result, will receive multiple emails from you.
Normally you would have a sign in form on your website and the subscriber will join your list through filling out the form.
Many list providers prefer double opt in email mailing lists. This means that everyone who signed up to your email list has also been sent an automatic email reply to their sign up form asking them to confirm their subscription to the list. By using the double opt in method, your list will be smaller but much more targeted and responsive.
Check if you have an opt in email list
If you accessed the person’s email address because they filled out a form on your website for your newsletter or for your email list, they are a subscriber who has “opted in”. If you have bought a list from an email list seller, then the people have not opted in to your list or your newsletter and will very likely question why you are sending them emails.
You must have a subscription form on your website that has a statement about why they are filling in the form (eg. newsletter or for an email list). Most autoresponder services will provide forms that can be customised for your website or offer.
If a customer has checked a box asking to be added to your mailing list then this person is clearly an opted-in subscriber.
Normally a person who purchases a product from you is not automatically opted in. They really ought to be asked if they want to receive further information from you or be part of your list. However, many autoresponder services will allow you to use subscribers who have purchased a product within the last 12 months to receive further information or newsletters. It is definitely preferable to include a checkbox that asks if they want to be included in your list. This keeps you completely safe from accusations of spam or unsolicited emails.
Website or Forum Members are not automatically subscribers. Again, they must have checked a box asking to be added to your list.
Similarly, your Facebook or other social media friends are not opted in to a list and can’t be automatically sent emails or newsletters.
You can’t include contacts in your email contacts or address book but you can send them an email asking if they would like to be included in your list.
Rented or purchased lists are not allowed on most legitimate services and are to be avoided at all costs. They are usually well used and worn out lists that have had too many emails sent to them to bother even opening them.
Ensure your list is a properly set up opt in email list and you will find subscribers to be more responsive, interested and engaged than the people who haven’t asked for your messages.
Check out the email hosting provider or autoresponder (Aweber, MailChimp, Get Response) service’s list requirements as each one has different policies. However, if you stick to the rules above, you will find that your list will stay clean and responsive to your business’s email messages.
A targeted and qualified email list can be a great bonus to your business and can be especially useful when you have promotions, sales and new product launches (just to name a few).