Permission ambition: How to win the opt-in

Smartphone with email

You can have the best content in the world, with the highest personalisation and automation capabilities, but if you don’t have permission to send it, your bottom line stays the same. 

Boost your permissions (and ROI) by leveraging your channels, providing incentives, and telling future recipients what they’ll gain when signing up.

When starting to generate subscribers, first figure out where you can reach these future recipients.

The best places to start include: 

  • High-traffic landing pages 
  • Specialised landing pages, either with specific topics or with high conversion
  • At transaction points, such as pre-, during- or post-check-out
  • On action pop-ups
  • Through paid media such as Facebook, Lead Ads or Google Ads
  • Through owned social media — some sites like Facebook enable you to add newsletter signup options on your page
  • QR codes and physical pamphlets in-stores with opt-in information
  • Add signup options to your social media accounts. Some social media sites make it easy to add a newsletter signup option to your social network page. Facebook has numerous third-party apps that let you add custom tab options, such as email signup.

To increase the chance of engagement, it’s also best practice to run permissions campaigns. 

By providing an incentive for opt-in, or capitalising on big sales events, you can leverage more opt-ins. Some ideas include: 

  • Competitions such as sweepstakes
  • Holiday permissions drive such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is a great way to get permission because your customers are eager to secure deals before anyone else.
  • Events such as webinars, seminars or in-store events
  • Offer premium content, discounts or support only for sign-ups

No matter the method, make sure your permissions drive is a cross-channel endeavour. Remember that potential newsletter subscribers aren’t only present on your website, and it may take multiple contacts before they sign up. 

Best practices of permissions gathering

Now that you know where to gather permissions, make sure you’re using the right approach to seal the deal.

Start simple: Start by gathering the most important permission — usually email addresses or phone numbers. You can always ask for more data later on, but it’s important to get your foot in the door without overwhelming the subscriber.

Make it easy: Minimise the effort from the subscriber. Don’t make them have to look for where to sign up, but place a pop-up or QR code leading to a quick, easy form, and go from there. 

Be upfront: Let the visitor know what they can expect from your communications, and be honest about it. It’s way better to have subscribers that want to receive your content than ones that will just unsubscribe later and may threaten your deliverability

Think like the user: When placing your newsletter subscriber forms, always think about the mindset of the user at that moment within your site’s page structure. Your copy should vary depending on where your signup link or form is placed. 

For example:

  • In e-commerce checkout: Opt-in for our newsletter to get coupons, special discounts, and the latest fashion news delivered straight to your inbox.
  • In a blog post: Did you like this post? Sign up and we’ll send you more awesome posts like this every two weeks.
  • In a physical store: Buy one, get two when you sign up or receive your membership gift by signing up now.
  • In a webinar: Did you learn today? Keep growing by staying connected with our webinar and podcast series. 

Get it right: Ensure you have proper consent and that you activate the leads/subscribers/recipients to keep yourself relevant. Don’t collect permissions if you aren’t able to activate them. Start utilising the data you have from the first contact. Don’t show users articles they’ve already read, don’t show them coffee if they’ve demonstrated interest in tea, and don’t call them Shirley if their name is John. 

Go omnichannel: Give your customers the option of deciding how you communicate with them. Do they prefer text messages or email? Would push notifications do the trick? Let them decide and you’ll have a better engagement rate. 

Keep collecting: After you’ve gained the permission, ramp up data collection as soon as possible. Along with age, gender, city, and country can easily tell you a bit about users’ demographic segmentation and the probabilities of them matching your existing database, and can therefore assist you in defining preferences as you get to know them better.

But what do you do with all the customers that don’t sign up? 

Leave a pamphlet in their shipping with a QR code or allow them to enter a raffle, in exchange for their permission. 

If you have a physical store, use inbound SMS or QR codes to collect permission from shoppers directly. Offer them an in-store discount or a small gift for signing up for your newsletter.


  • Start reaching potential subscribers through the web, social media, stores and transactions.
  • Run permissions campaigns to incentivise opt-in by giving something valuable back.
  • Start simple by gathering basic permissions and scaling from there.
  • Ensure you’ve obtained proper consent and that your sign-ups want your communication.
  • Start communicating right away.