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Opt In vs Opt Out in Email Marketing

Opt in vs opt out: what should you do? What is the difference between the two in email marketing? It can get tricky. So here’s a very quick overview of this concept.

opt in vs opt out

📌 Opt in vs Opt out

The concept as such isn’t too hard to explain.

👉 “Opt-in” is the process used to describe when a positive action is required in order to subscribe a user to a newsletter list, for example.

👉 “Opt-out” on the other hand means that a user can be signed up much more easily and must be allowed to opt out of that choice.

What’s the difference between opt-in and opt-out?

Opt-in means that a user must take a positive or affirmative action before being included in something, while opt-out means that a user can be included in something without the need of any action on their part (e.g including a US-based user on an email list under CAN-SPAM provisions).

Under opt-in regimes, the second “Opt-out” process would be forbidden. Usually opt-out is used as a term for the regime that is being applied for US-American direct marketing messages, while opt-in is the regime that is used under European and Canadian data protection rules.

The data protection agency of the UK explains opt-in boxes in this way:

Opt-in boxes are boxes where a tick indicates that the person agrees to receiving the specified marketing. Best practice is to provide an unticked opt-in box, and invite the person to confirm their agreement by ticking. This is the safest way of demonstrating consent, as it requires a positive choice by the individual to give clear and explicit consent.

The way in which you sign up your users to direct marketing and which privacy disclosures you must give them exactly depends on who you are trying to sign up (which country do these people reside in?).

📌 Where can you find more information about opt-in and opt-out?

You can read our Newsletter Guide here for more information on legal requirements related to email lists including opt-in and opt-out. Another great way to get specific information is to contact the data protection agencies that govern your use-case. Alternatively, you can read the individual legal details via the links below.


Did you know? There’s 1 common mistake email marketers do. Are you doing it, too?

👉 You can check it out here