What is an opt-in list?

ActiveCampaign’s email marketing service requires that your contact list be an opt-in list. This means that all of your contacts must have willingly given you their email address, with the knowledge that they would be added to your list and receive mass emails from you. Usually, contacts sign up using an online subscription form.

A “double opt-in list,” which is preferred, means that every person who signed up to be on your email list was also subsequently sent an individual “confirmation” email, which asked them one more time to confirm that they did indeed want their email address to be added to your list. This improves the quality of your list as it ensures that no individual was added to your list against their will.

Is my list an opt-in list?

That depends on how you have obtained your list, and the process that contacts went through when they gave you their email address.

  • Contacts who signed up using a subscription form on my website.
    Yes. If you have a subscription form on your website, which clearly states “fill out this form to sign up to our email newsletter,” (for example) so that individuals are aware that they are signing up to an email list, this is definitely an opt-in list. Our software provides tools that allow you to create subscription forms, and send opt-in confirmation emails to ensure that the list is “double opt-in” as well.
  • Customers who checked a box saying “please add me to your email list” when submitting a form on my website.
    Yes. Any customers of yours who submit a form on your website (such as when signing up for an account, or placing an order), and select an option saying “yes, add me to your email list” (for example) when filling out this form, are considered opted-in. However, it must be explicitly stated that they are agreeing to receive a newsletter and/or email marketing campaigns from you. It is also best to send a follow-up confirmation email to ensure they qualify as “double opt-in” when using this method, to be absolutely sure they did not check that box by accident.
  • Lists obtained from business cards at trade shows.
    No. This is not an opt-in list. For more information, please read our article regarding Trade show Lists.
  • Customers who have purchased products or services from me.
    Maybe. Usually, this is not an opt-in list. The only instance in which this would be considered an opt-in list would be if a contact checked a box when he or she originally gave you his or her email address, stating, “yes, I would like to subscribe to your email list,” as mentioned above. However, if your list is less than one year old (meaning all of the email addresses on your list belong to customers who have purchased from you under one year ago), we do allow you to send to them in our hosted system.
  • Members on my website or forum.
    No. Again, this is not an opt-in list, unless these individuals checked a “yes, I would like to subscribe to your email list” box when signing up.
  • My Facebook friends (or friends on other social networking sites).
    No. This is not an opt-in list.
  • Contacts in my email address book.
    No. This is not an opt-in list.
  • Purchased or rented lists.
    No. Purchased lists are not considered opt-in under any circumstances, and are prohibited in our hosted system.

* For more examples of lists you can and cannot use, please view our List Examples page.

If we have any reason to believe that your list is not an opt-in list, we will ask you to verify the URL of where contacts subscribed to your list, or even the IP address and timestamp of when your contacts signed up. Please be aware that this is in your best interest - we are trying to protect the network's deliverability ensuring that everyone is using clean, opted-in lists. 

My list is not opted-in. How do I opt-in my contacts?

In this situation, it is best to completely start over, and build a brand new list. Trying to send opt-in messages to an existing list that was not properly obtained can be difficult, time-consuming, and will likely result in a huge loss of email addresses regardless. However, if you’d like to try to do so before using our service, we do offer some instructions and tips in our How to Opt-in Previously-Collected Contacts article. (Note: All email lists absolutely must be opt-in lists before they are added to our hosted system. Using our system to send initial opt-in emails to a list that was not collected properly is strictly prohibited.)

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