How do I opt-in my old customer or member list?

ActiveCampaign’s email marketing service requires that your contacts be opt-in contacts, meaning they subscribed to your email list and are expecting to receive mass emails from you. If you have built a list but it is not an opt-in list (to see examples as to what is and is not allowed, please see our List Examples page), or it is a list that you have not emailed in over one year, you will need to send opt-in confirmation emails to this list before adding them to your ActiveCampaign account.

If you have a list of contacts that are not opt-ins, we recommend you discard the list and start over. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to opt-in a list retroactively and there are risks involved. You can try to do so, but you will likely annoy (or possibly lose) at least some of your customers/clients, and you will likely only retain a small fraction of the list in the process — especially if the list is old. A message of this kind is also likely to result in higher than normal spam complaints. Though this is frustrating for many email marketers to hear, it is, unfortunately, a realistic outcome. For this reason, it is best to ensure that you are using proper opt-in practices when building your list.

However, if you would like to try to opt-in a list that you have already built, you will need to take the steps outlined below to ensure they have been opted-in before adding those contacts to your account.

The Opt-in Process

To opt-in an existing list, you must send each person an email asking them to confirm their subscription to your email list. This initial email cannot be sent using our service. You may choose to send individual emails from your own email client, or you may choose to use a different application (such as a downloaded application you are hosting on your own server) or use a service to send this initial email — but in order to protect our delivery rates and reduce abuse complaints, this initial communication cannot be sent using our system.

However you choose to send this initial email, please make sure to follow these guidelines:

  • This initial email should notify clients that you plan to start an email newsletter/campaign soon and remind them of how you received their email address previously. You’ll also need to include a link to your online subscription form. Only the contacts who follow the link and complete the form will be considered opted-in.
  • The subscription form that you are directing your contacts to should be created by our platform so that these opt-in contacts can be added to your ActiveCampaign account automatically.
  • You may wish to offer an incentive to encourage subscription — such as a discount code for all contacts who sign up to the mailing list. However, be careful not to make this initial email appear as though it is an advertisement or unsolicited marketing email, as this could be off-putting, and dissuade your customers further. (For example, avoid putting common terms such as “Free!” or “50% off!” in your email subject, or strongly emphasizing terms like that in your message body.)
  • Do not simply send an email notifying your customers that they are already subscribed to your email list, and asking them to unsubscribe if they do not wish to receive your emails. This is not a valid way to opt-in your contacts. It is not safe to assume that any contact who did not click “unsubscribe” from your initial email is opted-in.
  • Do not email this list about opting in more than once. Only the contacts who followed-through and subscribed to your list using your subscription form should be contacted again in the future. The rest of the list should be discarded.

You may find that this opt-in process drastically reduces the size of your list — that is to be expected. But it is necessary, and you will find that it is worthwhile. The contacts who do stay with you are people who definitely are interested in your product or service, and they are more likely to interact positively with your email campaigns in the future. Delivery rates will remain high, bounce and abuse rates will remain low, and your email marketing campaigns will be more effective overall.

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