How do I opt-in contacts I have collected offline?

If you’ve collected contacts offline, for example, at a networking event or a conference, you’ll need to make sure they opt into your list before you start sending them emails. An opt-in process ensures that you’re building a list of people who want to hear from you; this will lead to high engagement rates and a great sender reputation. It will also help keep you compliant with anti-spam regulations as well as privacy regulations, such as GDPR.

In this article, you learn two different methods for asking offline contacts to opt into your email list.

Use ActiveCampaign Forms for iPad

If you have an iPad, you can use the ActiveCampaign Forms for iPad app to collect opt-ins on the go, even when you’re offline. This solution was designed to help you grow your marketing lists while meeting potential subscribers face-to-face. 

For example, you can use this app to collect opt-ins at trade shows, open houses, brick-and-mortar stores, or while you’re on the road. Simply hand individuals your iPad and ask them to complete your subscription form. When they click the form’s “Submit” button, their information will be synced to your ActiveCampaign account and they will be added to your marketing list. If you’re offline, their information will be synced as soon as you have an internet connection.

Use ActiveCampaign Forms for iPad

Send offline contacts a link to your subscription form

You can send individuals an email from your own email client and include a link to your online subscription form. In this email, you can provide a reminder of how you met, share information about your company, product or service, and thank them for their interest. 

After they submit the form and complete the double opt-in process (if using), they’ll be added to your list as an “Active" contact and you can start sending them marketing communications.

Don’t have an online form? No worries, you can create a form in ActiveCampaign then include the form link in your email. To locate the form link, click the “Integrate” button located in the form builder, click the “Link” tab, then copy the link URL and paste it into your email.

FAQs for opting in offline contacts

Why do I need opt-in consent?

An individual who actively opts into your list wants to hear from you. Usually, individuals opt into a list by submitting a form. Sending marketing communications to contacts who provided this consent will help foster a positive experience with your brand and can lead to high engagement rates (opens and clicks). This is a huge win for your overall reputation and sender health. Not to mention that collecting verifiable permission to send marketing communications ensures that you comply with anti-spam and privacy regulations.

Read the ActiveCampaign Consent Policy.

What if individuals gave me verbal permission?

Generally, verbal permission is not considered a valid opt-in. Sending communications to contacts who provided verbal permission is a common mistake, especially if you’re new to email marketing. Due to its nature, verbal permission is often undocumented and therefore difficult to prove. In addition, these individuals may forget giving you this permission and be confused as to why they are receiving your communications. This can cause them to ignore your emails, or worse, mark them as spam. Not only will this lead to an overall negative experience with your brand, but it can harm your sender reputation as well as the sending health of other ActiveCampaign customers. 

Instead, we recommend reaching out to these individuals shortly after meeting them via email using your own email client. In this message, you can remind them of how you met, provide more information about your business, thank them for their interest, and include a link to your online subscription form. As they submit the form and complete the double opt-in process (if using), they will be added to your list as “Active” contacts.

Are business cards collected at trade shows considered opt-in consent?


On their own, business cards collected at trade shows are not considered a valid form of opt-in. Similar to verbal permission, sending communications to these individuals is another common mistake and this type of permission is very difficult to prove. These individuals may not understand why they’re receiving your emails and may mark them as spam. Not only can this create a negative experience with your brand, but it can harm your sender reputation as well as the sending health of other ActiveCampaign customers. 

When you collect business cards, it’s best to send those individuals an email shortly after meeting them. Again, this email should be sent from your own email client and contain information about how you met, information about your business or services, and a link to your online subscription form. As they submit the form and complete the double opt-in process (if using), they will be added to your list as “Active” contacts. 

What happens if I don’t opt-in offline contacts and send them marketing emails?

This common mistake can also be the most damaging to your reputation; sending marketing communications to unsolicited contacts is illegal and subjects you to potential financial penalties. To avoid this bad practice and keep your brand and sender reputation intact, it’s best to follow up with these individuals via email from your own email client and ask them to subscribe to your list by submitting a form. While this method can take time, this best practice will lead to overall good sender health, a positive experience with your brand, high engagement rates, and will ensure compliance with anti-spam and privacy regulations. 

Are my Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections considered opted-in contacts?

Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections are not opted-in contacts as they have not provided explicit consent to receive marketing communications from you. If you would like to send marketing communications to your social media connections, it’s best to have them submit your subscription form.

Learn how to publish a form on Facebook.

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