Getting permission to send emails

Information on this page does not constitute as legal advice.

When a contact opts into your list, they are giving you permission to send them emails. Getting this permission is essential and it ensures that you’ll only send emails to contacts who want to hear from you. This has many benefits, including higher click and open rates, good sender reputation, and compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).

This article will discuss: 

Double opt-in

A double opt-in is a great way to grow your list. This opt-in method is a two-step process that a contact must complete in order to receive your marketing communications. In ActiveCampaign, all list subscription forms have the double opt-in setting enabled by default.

Double opt-in step 1: An individual submits a form you created in ActiveCampaign. 

The individual is added to your list as an  “Unconfirmed” contact. Contacts with an “Unconfirmed” status are automatically excluded from marketing email sends and do not count against your contact limit.

Double opt-in step 2: Contact confirms their email address.

Once a subscriber submits your form, they are sent an email with a confirmation link. If they click the confirmation link, their status is changed from “Unconfirmed” to “Active” and can receive marketing emails from you. 

There are several benefits to grow your list using the double opt-in method:

  • Works with the following regulations:
    • CAN-SPAM
    • CASL
    • GDPR
  • Email addresses collected using this method are correct and have been verified.
    Individuals who complete the double opt-in process are real people and their email addresses are correct and free of typos. This means that you should experience lower bounce rates when sending them marketing emails. 
  • Prevents spam contacts from being added to your account as “Active” contacts.
    The double opt-in process helps prevent spam contacts being added as “Active” contacts to your account. Instead, spam contacts are added as “Unconfirmed” contacts and do not count against your contact limit. Contacts with an “Unconfirmed” status are automatically excluded from marketing email sends. You can add a Captcha field to your form to help prevent spam contacts from being added to your account as “Unconfirmed” contacts. 
  • All contacts who completed the double opt-in process want to hear from you. 
    These individuals have actively confirmed their consent to be contacted and are engaged with your brand, which means they are more likely to be engaged with your communications. 

Single opt-in

The single opt-in is another great way to grow your list. This method uses fewer steps than the double opt-in; when a contact submits your form, they will be added to your list right away. They do not need to go through a confirmation process. Single opt-in is supported on all ActiveCampaign forms. In addition, it’s compliant with CAN-SPAM, CASL, and GDPR. 

While this opt-in method is an easy way to grow your lists, there are some things to keep in mind when you’re using it:

  • Your bounce and spam rates might increase.
    Individuals may have provided an incorrect email address or may end up on your email marketing list by mistake. Sending emails to incorrect email addresses or to individuals who don’t want to hear from you can harm your deliverability rate. 
  • You may see an increase in fake or “spam” contacts with an “Active” status in your account.
    Since no confirmation email is sent, spam contacts may be added to your account as “Active” contacts. 

If you start seeing an increase in bounce or spam rates, or an increase in fake contacts in your account, you can switch to double opt-in forms to collect contacts and add a Captcha field to your form. This field prevents unwanted, spammy contacts from being added to your account which can harm your deliverability. 

Soft opt-in

A soft opt-in is temporary consent to send marketing communications to current customers. This temporary consent is given by individuals when their email addresses are collected during the sale of a product or service. In addition, the soft opt-in is compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act and CASL. Note that for CASL, consent to send marketing communications after a purchase is valid for two years.

However, there are some risks we’d like you to consider if you choose to use this method: 

  • Your engagement rate may decrease.
    Contacts may not be aware that they opted into your communications and may ignore your messages in their inbox. This can lead to less connection with your brand.
  • Your spam rates may increase.
    Contacts may consider your communications as junk mail and mark your messages as Spam. Or contacts may not understand the connection between your marketing emails and the service/product they purchased. This can harm your domain and sender health and even get you blacklisted. 
  • Not valid under GDPR.
    A soft opt-in is not considered explicit consent, which GDPR requires.

If you see any issues with engagement or spam rates, or if you need to comply with GDPR, we recommend asking individuals to subscribe to your list by submitting a form that uses either a double or single opt-in. Learn how to create a form in ActiveCampaign.

Forced opt-in

A forced opt-in uses a pre-checked “Accepts Marketing” box. This box is usually found on an e-commerce checkout page. If an “Accepts Marketing” box is pre-checked, it assumes the individual’s consent to be contacted through their own inaction. If they do not want to receive your marketing emails, they need to actively uncheck that box.

While this is okay under the CAN-SPAM act, there are some downsides to this method that one should keep in mind:

  • Not compliant with ActiveCampaign's policies.
     With ActiveCampaign, subscribers must provide express consent in order to receive your messaging; pre-checked boxes do not suffice. Read our Terms of service, Acceptable Use Policy, Consent Policy, and Anti-Spam Policy.
  • Not valid under GDPR or CASL.
    Prechecked boxes that use the inaction of individuals to assume consent is not valid under GDPR or CASL. In order for consent to be valid under either privacy regulations, individuals must actively confirm their consent. 
  • It may compromise your brand’s reputation and the trust the recipient has with your brand.
    This type of opt-in does not allow individuals to actively provide their consent to receive emails from you. In addition, this type of opt-in does not set any expectations with individuals about the type and cadence of emails being sent. 
  • Your spam rates may increase.
    Individuals who submit this form may not be aware that they are signing up to receive marketing emails from you. This can lead to unsubscribes and spam complaints, which can get you blacklisted.

Instead of using this method to grow your list, we recommend leaving this checkbox blank and allow individuals to check it themselves.

Forced co-registration

Forced co-registration is when an individual’s information is shared across multiple brands after they request further information/marketing materials from one specific brand. Forced co-registration is barely acceptable for the brand collecting information and does not count as opt-in consent for the other brands. This method of email collection is essentially spam or spam-enabling as the original opt-in is only applicable to the original brand that received the consent.

There are several reasons why forced co-registration should not be used. We listed some of those reasons below: 

  • Not compliant with ActiveCampaign's policies.
     With ActiveCampaign, subscribers must provide express consent in order to receive your messaging. Read our Terms of service, Acceptable Use Policy, Consent Policy, and Anti-Spam Policy.
  • Not valid under GDPR, CASL or CAN-SPAM.
    Sharing private user data with other brands or companies is a direct violation of GDPR and a fineable offense. CASL and CAN-SPAM also do not recognize this as opt-in consent.
  • It may compromise your brand’s reputation and the trust the recipient has with your brand.
    Recipients will be wary of providing you with information or business if doing so fills their inbox with unrelated spam from your shared list associates.
  • Your spam rates may increase.
    Individuals who submit this form may not be aware that they are signing up to receive marketing emails from other brands that you are associated with. 
  • Deliverability for your domain will be compromised.
    Sharing and sending to shared addresses will compromise the deliverability of your domain reputation. Contacts obtained in this way generally perform poorly and will quickly ruin your sending reputation and will affect inboxing to your properly opted-in contacts.

Instead of using this method, it’s best for each brand to have their own subscription form that individuals can submit their information to. In addition, you can also allow individuals to select which brands to subscribe to when they submit your form

Unsolicited Sending, Rented Lists, and Purchased Lists

Email addresses that appear on rented or purchased lists are generally acquired through third parties. Contacts on these lists are often touted as “opted-in,” “targeted,” and “GDPR-compliant,” however, this is never the case. Sending marketing emails to these individuals is called unsolicited sending, or Spam, which is illegal and against ActiveCampaign's Terms and Policies. Unfortunately, this can be a common mistake for marketers, especially those who are new. 

Instead of using rented or purchased lists, it’s best to grow your subscriber base by asking individuals to opt into your communications. The most common way is through a form that you can publish on your website or Facebook page. While this method may take longer than a rented or purchased list, you’ll reap several benefits, such as good sender reputation, high engagement rates, and a great experience with your brand.

Have more questions? Submit a request