Why Opt-In Marketing Matters

Why Opt-In Marketing MattersThe other day a friend of mine asked me what I thought about text marketing. My answer was this – for some industries, like retail, it makes a lot of sense. However, no matter what kind of marketing it is, I believe it has to be opt-in.

How many times do you go to a networking event, meet people, and suddenly find yourself subscribed to their newsletter? Annoying, isn’t it?

If we go with the belief that sales is permission based then it stands to reason that some forms of marketing should be opt-in. It’s not about building your numbers. It IS about building qualified numbers. You really want to be in front of the people who want you in front of them; the people who want to hear your message.

When you take it upon yourself to sign people up for your messaging, you do more harm than good. You run the very real risk of alienating the very people you want to be connecting with. Not the best marketing move I can think of.

In addition, when you ask someone if they’d like to receive your newsletter or text you have a better chance of them actually reading it. Now the marketing is doing its job.

So, let’s compare:

1. You sign people up without their permission. Result:

a. You alienate them and they opt-out or delete

b. They tell others about your behavior

c. They make the decision to NEVER do business with you

2. You ask people if they’d like to receive your information. Result:

a. They are prone to opening and reading your information

b. They might share that information with others

c. They have a positive attitude toward your business

Which scenario sounds better? Exactly!

Sales is always about relationship building. It is your job to create a process that will build positive relationships – not negative ones. You want to be engaged in those relationships for a long time. That won’t happen if you fail to ask for permission first. In addition, once you gain their permission, be sure to offer them valuable information. You’ve gained their trust, so don’t abuse it by pitching all the time. Think about what message you want to share and be consistent.

For me it’s all about how you wish to be perceived. Do you want people to know, like, and trust you or are you in it for the quick hit? The answer to that question will determine the path you choose.

When you want people to know, like, and trust you then you have to be sure you are making decisions that work toward that goal. And of course, we all know that great sales people are the people who want others to know, like, and trust them. While that person may never have a need to do business with you, they will be more likely to refer you to others because of your behavior.


Diane Helbig Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Top Sales World Experts Panel at Top Sales World.

15 Reactions
  1. Opt-in marketing is the only way to go, I agree. Plus, it’s a much more powerful way to sell. When a person raises their hand and says that they want to hear what you have to say, then you are instantly creating a pool of hungry buyers.

    Sure you will have many people that just want something for free, but if you use your list correctly, you can weed out the buyers from the non-buyers and create a very valuable family.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  2. emily @theMODstudio

    Appreciate your insight on this topic!
    And agreed, an eager audience is more compelled to not only accept but also enjoy what you have
    to share with them… and as more pressure is put on firms to build their numbers or see
    immediate results, they tend to ignore the importance of fostering relationships that lead to more
    consistent future sales.

    Great post!

    The MOD Studio, Austin

  3. Diane,

    I like the “sound” of opt-in, for sure. It gives me a warm, semi-fuzzy feeling.

    However, I can see where too many opt-in’s for customers/clients may start to get a little noisy.

    Kind of like email.

    The Franchise King

  4. Thanks for the comments Joshua and Emily. You are so right. Emily, I see so many companies focus on the wrong things and then wonder why their sales are down. Treating people with respect is the way to go!

  5. Joel,
    I hear that. I like the opt in because at some point I’m going to want to use that coupon and the timing will be just right. In the meantime I have no problem deleting the others. I asked for all of them so it’s all good.

  6. I think you exposed clearly your point in the article and I agree that people should have a choice. However, I just think your comparison is rather simplistic and biased. How about the following comparison pushed to an extreme on the other side:

    1. You sign people up without their permission. Result:
    a. They didn’t have time to visit your website and they’re glad you added them to your newsletter.
    b. They start reading your newsletter, they really like it and they start buying from you.
    c. They are in love with your newsletter, they think you are brilliant, you meet in person and you’re getting married

    2. You ask people if they’d like to receive your information. Result:
    a. They subscribe to your newsletter as well as 200 newsletters from other sites
    b. They receive so much information that they can’t keep up and become discouraged
    c. They start hating technology and go live in an Amish country.

    Which scenario sounds better? Exactly! 🙂

  7. Not only should your communication be opt-in, it should also be easy to opt-out. Roles and interests change, so if a newsletter has lost its interest I want to easily drop it. Feel free to pop a little survey asking why I left. If it’s short I’ll fill it out, but let me choose to leave just as easily as I chose to enter.

  8. Julien – interesting comparison. Mine may be simplistic but it is also true. While it would be nice to think that people would be grateful for the information, I’m just not sure that’s realistic.

    If you agree that sales is about relationships then consider how relationships grow – or don’t.

    Robert – I couldn’t agree more. Opting out is equally important. Our needs and interests change as we move on. It stands to reason that our reading material will change as well.

  9. Couldn’t agree with you more, it has to be opt-in for anybody to pay attention. I think anybody who has a good understanding of marketing knows that opt-out will hurt your brand image and not convert to sales.

  10. Premier Team International

    as far as marketing goes, I’m a personal fan of online marketing. Mainly for the reason that online marketing you’re able to determine your ROI and progress.

  11. How would this apply in the industrial services field, I understand it from the retail side, but we deal primarily with Oil & Gas Companies (engineers and the sort). My thought is that Opt in market is still good when someone visits our web site and completes a form and we basically can qualify the visitor more before we engage them. Many of our visits may be from abroad.
    Just wanted your thoughts and feedback.

  12. Hi Sam. Yes I agree. As long as the person has the opportunity to decide if they want to sign up for emails or texts, it is opt-in and therefore good. Completing the form on your website, as long as you’ve indicated what they are opting into, works in my opinion.

    Hope that helps!

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