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Email Marketing: Opt-In, Soft Opt-In, and Double Opt-in

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Email marketing is a crucial aspect of modern digital marketing for businesses of all sizes.

Opt-in email marketing, in particular, is an effective way to expand your business by reaching out to prospects that actually want to hear from you.

To ensure the success of your email campaigns, it’s important to understand the various opt-in methods, such as opt-in, soft opt-in, and double opt-in. By utilizing the appropriate opt-in method, you can avoid legal fines (for example, GDPR fines), improve your brand reputation, and improve your email list quality.

Consent for email marketing

There are different types of opt-in methods, including single opt-in, double opt-in, and soft opt-in. Single opt-in requires no further confirmation after a customer subscribes to a business’s email list. Double opt-in, on the other hand, involves an extra step where subscribers must confirm their email address by clicking on a link in a confirmation email. A soft opt-in method is more relaxed and allows businesses to send promotional emails to customers who have previously made a purchase.

Understanding the various opt-in methods can help you choose the best strategy for your email marketing campaign and ensure you reach your target audience effectively.

Good To Know: The definition of what types of data are considered sensitive data and how such data needs to be handled can change between countries. Make sure to use hoggo’s Risk Radar when planning your campaigns to check country-specific requirements.

What is Opt-in?

TL;DR: Opt-in refers to the act of a person actively choosing to receive marketing messages from a business. Opt-in is usually done by filling out a form, checking a box, or otherwise giving consent to receive marketing messages.

Opt-in for email marketing is a permission-based approach where users provide consent to receive promotional emails from your brand. This means that customers willingly share their email addresses and sign up to receive newsletters, promotions, and other marketing materials.

Opting in is an active action, such as ticking a box or oral confirmation, indicating their consent to receive your emails. By using an opt-in method, you can ensure that your email campaigns are compliant with data privacy regulations and that your customers’ data is protected. It’s essential to prioritize data privacy to maintain the trust and loyalty of your customers while running a successful email marketing campaign.

Good To Know: When relying on opt-in/consent, there are often country-specific requirements on the type of information provided at the time opt-in was given, the individuals’ rights after opting-in, and the business’s obligations towards the collected data as well as the person. Make sure to use hoggo’s Risk Radar when planning your campaigns to check country-specific requirements.

Soft Opt-in or Opt-out?

Opt-out refers to the ability of a person to decline to receive marketing messages from a business. At all times, users should have the option of opting out.

This is mostly done by providing a link to unsubscribe in any marketing email or providing instructions on how to request removal. Relying on this option for marketing activities is restricted in many countries.

What is Soft Opt-in?

TL;DR: Soft opt-in allows you to send marketing materials to existing customers, but not prospective clients or new contacts.

When it comes to email marketing, a soft opt-in approach is more relaxed than the standard opt-in method. This method involves sending promotional emails to customers who have previously made a purchase from your business.

You assume that these customers are interested in your marketing materials because they’ve already shown an interest in your products or services. It’s crucial to prioritize data privacy and to offer them a way to opt-out of receiving more marketing materials in the future. This way, you can maintain their trust and protect their data while running a successful email marketing campaign.

What is Double Opt-in?

TL;DR: Double opt-in is a process used by businesses to verify a person’s consent to receive marketing material. When someone opt-in or consents to receive marketing materials, the business will send a confirmation email to the email address provided for the person to click and confirm their subscription.

Double opt-in is a more rigorous email marketing approach that prioritizes data privacy. With this method, customers must confirm their email addresses before receiving promotional emails from your brand. They first sign up for your email list and then confirm their subscription by clicking on a link in a confirmation email.

By using this method, you can ensure that your email list consists of high-quality, engaged subscribers who are genuinely interested in your brand. Additionally, double opt-in provides an added layer of protection against fake or incorrect email addresses, ensuring that your marketing efforts reach real people.

Good To Know: Not many countries require a double opt-in for marketing activities. Make sure to use hoggo’s Risk Radar when planning your campaigns to check country-specific requirements.

Alternative Ways of Obtaining Consent for Email Marketing

TL;DR: Consent for email marketing can also be obtained through third-party services or oral agreements, but these methods have risks and limitations that email marketers should consider.

Aside from the standard methods of opt-in, soft opt-in, opt-out, and double opt-in, there are other ways of providing consent for email marketing. One of these ways is through consent collected by a third party, such as data brokers. This involves obtaining consent from individuals through a third-party service provider, who has obtained consent from the individuals on behalf of the email marketer

Obtaining consent from a third-party carries certain risks that you should be aware of. For instance, the third-party may not have obtained valid consent from the individuals, which could result in complaints and legal issues. Additionally, you, as a marketer, may not have direct contact with the individuals, making it difficult to obtain further consent or handle any complaints. Furthermore, if the third-party breaches its contract with you, it could lead to reputational damage and legal liability for you, not them.

As such, it is important to carefully vet any third-party service providers and to ensure that they have appropriate consent-gathering procedures in place.

Another way of providing consent is through oral consent, which is a verbal agreement given by the individual to receive email marketing communications. This can be obtained through telephone conversations, in-person meetings, or other forms of verbal communication.

Good To Know: Oral consent may be difficult to prove and may not be a reliable method of obtaining consent.

Which Method Should You Use?

Data privacy regulations and requirements for consent vary from country to country, and it’s essential to understand the specific laws that apply to your email marketing campaign.

Opt-in email marketing is the most commonly used method and is the most compliant with email marketing regulations, such as the GDPR. However, some countries have enacted specific national laws on consent requirements for direct marketing.

For example, the UK allows for soft opt-in when launching an email marketing campaign for existing customers. Soft opt-in is a useful strategy to keep in touch with your existing customers and maintain their engagement with your brand. Double opt-in is required in some countries, such as Germany, and is the most reliable method to ensure a high-quality email list.

By understanding the consent requirements and regulations specific to your target audience, you can protect your customers’ data privacy and build a successful email marketing campaign.


To ensure compliance with data privacy laws while conducting a global email marketing campaign, it’s essential to understand the different types of consent. By selecting the appropriate method for your business, you can improve your email marketing results, minimize the risk of fines, and build a loyal customer base. With hoggo’s Risk Radar, you can quickly assess the risk score of your marketing campaign and receive actionable steps to mitigate any risks.

Don’t expose yourself or your company to fines and brand damage due to privacy laws violations when launching a global email marketing campaign – try hoggo’s Risk Radar today to ensure compliance and protect your customers’ data privacy.

Noa Kahalon
COO at hoggo

Noa is a certified CIPM, CIPP/E, and a Fellow of Information Privacy (FIP) from the IAPP. Her background consists of marketing, project management, operations, and law. She is the co-founder and COO of hoggo, an AI-driven SaaS platform for B2B trust where sellers can showcase & improve compliance and buyers can evaluate, manage and monitor them.