Opt-In Email Marketing: What is It and How to Do It the Right Way (with 7 Examples)

Opt-In Email Marketing: What is It and How to Do It the Right Way (with 7 Examples)

Since almost all marketing campaigns and social media strategies are intrusive and just suddenly pop out of nowhere, opt-in email marketing puts your business in a good light with your customers. 

Being intrusive and sending different unsolicited marketing campaigns can do more harm than good for your business. 

Sure, it’s putting your products or service in front of your customers, but in this world where people can filter what they see and don’t, that tactic will never convert anyone. It will just annoy your audience and will probably block your business.

Given these facts, it’s important to know what opt-in email is and how businesses should do it the right way. 

What Is Opt-in Email Marketing?

The term “opt-in” means to be involved or join in something. For “email marketing”, you know that it’s the use of email to promote products or services.

So in its simplest form, opt-in email marketing is asking permission to your audience on whether they’d like to join your email list. 

Since it’s asking permission before sending them with marketing ads, Seth Godin called this “permission marketing”. He further explained that:

“permission marketing realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.”

This means that infographics and engaging video content aren’t the only things that can grab attention, asking their permission is also another way of doing so.

With opt-in email marketing, you get to ask your audience whether it’s all right for them to receive promotional materials, email newsletters, and other email marketing campaigns.

This is very different from other marketing strategies since most of it is just showing your campaign without any permission from the people. 

The fact that people signed up in your email list means that they want to hear from your business or blog. You don’t waste any effort in doing marketing for people that are uninterested in the first place.

Sometimes, in order to convince people to opt-in for the email list, businesses will present an incentive to them. This can come in the form of a free eBook, research material, video content, or access to an exclusive product.

Single vs Double Opt-in

single vs double opt-in email marketing

Before we get into how to do this the right way, let’s first quickly discuss what single and double opt-in email marketing are.

Single opt-in

A single opt-in means that a customer can join your email list immediately by putting the necessary information on the form. 

In this type of opt-in, no further actions are required to join the list. 

They’ll automatically receive emails from your business as soon as they hit that “Submit” button.

Double opt-in

Double opt-in on the other hand requires another step to be finally included in the list. After filling up the form they will still receive another email to confirm if they wanted to join.

The reason why businesses go for the double opt-in method is to lessen the chance of emails going directly to the spam folder. Additionally, this extra step tells the business how interested the customer is.

Which one is better for opt-in email marketing?

Some marketers believe that a single opt-in is better since they don’t want to risk that extra step. Their concern is that requiring more actions from the customer’s end can cause a change of mind and not push through in joining the list. 

While there are single opt-in believers, you can bet that there are also people who believe in double opt-in as the superior choice. To them, that extra step determines how interested a customer is.

They want that data for them to see that their marketing efforts go to the right people.

Although many argue on which one is better, we believe that it all boils down to personal preference. 

Rather than influencing you on which one to use, we’d rather show what each one does. 

How To Do It The Right Way?

In this part of the post, let’s divide it into two sections – the first section talks about the contents of the opt-in form, a feature that is usually provided by your email marketing tool . The second section pertains to how you can properly use the opt-in form.

5 Content Tips For Your Opt-In Form

1. Create an eye-catching headline

Studies show that an average website visitor spends 15 seconds or less on a website. Which means that you only have a few seconds to capture and hook their attention.

Just like in blogs and video content, the first thing that can hook an eyeball is the headline. You’ve seen this work in newspapers, magazines, and other publications. 

So for people to give attention to your form, your headline should be eye-catching.

Most headlines highlight the benefit of the lead magnet, while some ask a question to pique their interest.

2. Use bullet points to highlight product features

3Wishes bullet points for product feature

Notice how this eCommerce store highlighted the product’s features by using bullet points. This is very important since it can save time for your shoppers.

Now apply the same logic to your opt-in form. Knowing that you only have a few seconds to work with, it’s beneficial for you to show what the customer will get when they sign up to your email list. Just like the example below:

bullet points opt-in form

Just put yourself in the position of your audience, what would you rather read? A form that’s filled with paragraphs or a summary of what you’ll get in bullet points? 

3. Be creative with your visuals

A creative design opt-in form tends to be attractive to the eyes and attention-grabbing. It’s actually either the headline or the design of the form that attracts website visitors to your form. 

Some websites attach a photo of the lead magnet to make people see what they’re getting when they sign up. This is always the better choice than a form that’s filled with words – give if you have a big space for your form.

4. Stick to what you need

With a lot of cybersecurity issues nowadays, people are more cautious to give away information. So with this, it’s a good idea not to ask for too much information.

When you ask for more than a name and email, like gender, address, and phone number, this can be a turn-off for your website visitors. It might scare them away.

Make sure to only ask for the details you need. 

5. Creative CTA button

creative cta button

Instead of writing “submit” on the submit button, try to be more creative than that. Sometimes, your creativity reflects your brand’s persona and people appreciate it when you show that side of your business.

So a few things you can replace “submit” with are “add me to the list!”, “I want that ebook now!” or “send me everything!”.

6. Structure your phrases properly

Your opt-in form shouldn’t be too serious, it should feel like you’re inviting them. After all, you are inviting them to join your email list. 

So rather than writing in business English or a formal tone, go for conversational phrases – talk to them and invite them like how you would invite a friend. 

In a world where almost everything is automated, customers feel appreciated when a business makes an effort to customize messages for them.

How To Use Opt-In Forms

1. Decide where to place it

Since you already have people on your website, use that opportunity to invite them to your email list. Most websites have their opt-in form shown on their home page. While others pop up when you’re idle

This website uses the top bar of its website to announce any major news about the company.

Aura top bar message

To some websites, they place their opt-in form on top of their sidebar. This makes the opt-in form still visible even if the visitor won’t scroll down.

Another section where you can put your opt-in form is at the checkout page. If a customer is already on the checkout page of your website, this already means that they’re willing to try out what you offer. 

With them buying or availing your service, there’s a higher chance that they’ll be interested in what you have to give or what upcoming sales you have. 

2. Offer rewards and other incentives

A way to hook your website visitor’s attention would be offering them rewards and incentives if they sign up to your email list

Unless they’re really interested, they won’t sign up for no reason. To some, their thinking is “what’s in it for me?”. And that’s where you offer your rewards or incentives. 

Possible incentives can include:

  • Discounts – The most basic and the most effective incentive to hook people. You can give discounts on their next purchase or for their first purchase. Discounts work well for any business. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the reselling business or in the services niche. Everyone loves discounts. 
  • Exclusive content – You can entice people to sign up on your email list by giving them free exclusive content. Having the phrase “exclusive content” makes it more appealing to visitors since it will be more interesting for them and they’d wonder why the material is exclusive. These products can be how you sold your online courses for XX amount of dollars, a guide to being successful in your niche, or a how-to complete guide in doing something.
  • Free shipping – Everybody loves free shipping. The shipping fee alone is a make or break for most online shoppers and the fact that you’re making it free on their next purchase can be enough for them to sign up.
  • Free products or samples – Some people think that giving out free products is only a good situation for the consumer but it’s actually a win-win for both parties. Not only do you expand your email list and make the consumer get something for free but it also lets the same people test out your products. 

3. Don’t overuse popups

Not everyone is a fan of pop-ups. Some see it as intrusive and others believe that it interrupts the user experience.

If you’re going to utilize it, make sure to use a pop-up plugin that allows you to fully customize the content of the pop-up. Include a message that they can use and benefit from. 

The last thing you want is a pop-up ruining the user experience with a message that isn’t benefiting them. 

Other websites use pop-ups when a visitor is on a certain page. They do this because their pop-up’s message is relevant to the page that the person just visited. 

Why Is Opt-In Email Marketing important?

When you have the consent of people to send email marketing campaigns to them, your messages are less likely to direct to the spam folder or worse the trash folder. Since they’ve given their email, they are already expecting emails from your business.

Other than getting permission, it’s also a validation of your business. As you grow your email list, you know for a fact that you’re doing something right with your products and service. You know that you’re serving your customers well if they want to hear more from you.

Aside from the benefits that it gives you to your business, some country’s email marketing laws require businesses to ask permission before sending out marketing campaigns to people. 

It’s just like how the FTC wants affiliate marketers to let their audience know that they are making commissions from the products they offer.

That’s why businesses or even independent blogs need to have a message that they earn from links and products.

7 Examples Of Great Opt-In Email Marketing Forms

One way to get some ideas on how you can create your own opt-in email forms is by looking at how some businesses structured theirs. It’s a good way to find some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Frank Body

frank body

Frank Body chose the route of having a small opt-in form that pops up when you’re on the homepage of the site. Although many believe that pop-ups can ruin customer experience, Frank Body compensated for that by having a small opt-in form.

With this, the visitor can still scroll the website without the opt-in form blocking an entire page.

2. Sleeknote


This is a great opt-in form from Sleeknote. The color stands out immediately from the white background of the site. 

They’ve used emojis and sliders on the feedback that the customers are saying about the email they receive from being on the list.

Also, notice how the submit button isn’t just “submit” and the only information they asked for is an email and nothing else. This makes it very easy for the audience to join the list.

3. Help Scout

Help Scout

This opt-in form of Help Scout doesn’t have any design or color that makes it stand out but can you guess what it has that’s not shown in the previous examples? 

The content of the form is giving out a sense of FOMO or fear of missing out. A strategy that’s famous to traditional businesses, eCommerce stores, to even content creators. 

Help Scout did it by displaying how many readers have joined their email newsletter. 

If you’re a website visitor, you’d be intrigued on why there are that many subscribers. You’ll be thinking about what kind of content they are sending to their email list. And if you join because of that curiosity, then the content of their opt-in form has done its job.

4. Tapfiliate

Another place where you can insert a link to your opt-in form is on your blog page. 

Notice how Tapfiliate blended it naturally with the page. It’s not too attention-grabbing but it’s also not intrusive. It’s just the perfect balance.


5. Content Marketing Institute

content marketing institute

There’s a lot to see in CMI’s opt-in form but they’ve managed to make it fit naturally on the website’s sidebar. 

The first thing you’ll see is how they utilized the FOMO effect. If you see that there are 218,000 content marketers in their email list, then you might think that you’re missing out.

They also cited the inclusions when people sign up for the list. They’ll be sending daily alerts and a free copy of their exclusive ebook.

You can also see that they’ve reminded people that they can unsubscribe at any time. Which is information that isn’t displayed by many. Sometimes that simple phrase is enough for people to subscribe to the list.

6. Smart Passive Income

SPI community

SPI really thought of how to present their opt-in form in a different manner from the rest. Rather than initially hooking website visitors with freebies, SPI conveyed a feeling of being part of a community.

By making the banner background a group of people, the visitor feels like they’re joining a community rather than joining for the incentives.

7. Persuasion Nation

Persuation Nation

This placement of the opt-in form by Persuasion Nation also works. It doesn’t disrupt any viewing experience and it isn’t blocking any content. 

This works well because the form is placed where it’s visibly seen and big enough to not be ignored.


With email marketing still being one of the top marketing channels for businesses, it’s important that you grow your email list. 

By using opt-in email marketing, you’re able to make sure that your list is filled with interested people. This makes your business hit those marketing KPIs much easier.

Understand that the examples shown here should just be an inspiration. What worked for them might not work for your audience. 

So doing A/B testing can be beneficial for your business. See what works and what doesn’t. Once you’ve got the data, stick with what converts more.

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Author Bio

Christian Cabaluna is a finance blogger at awesomex™ with 5+ years of first-hand experience. When he is not writing in his favorite coffee shop, Christian spends most of his time reading (mainly about money-related topics), cooking, watching sitcoms, visiting beaches, and catching beautiful sunsets.

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