Lastly we have an option not too many email marketers feel comfortable fooling around with - for good reasons. In simple terms, a soft opt-in is a form of temporary consent or permission to contact someone via email. For example, if you meet someone at a convention who doesn’t necessarily want to be on your list, but wants more information about your solution, a soft opt-in would technically allow you to contact them without violating privacy regulations. However, this option has some specifics such as making sure your content is related to the product or service at hand, letting the person know they can stop receiving your communications upon collecting their information and providing a way to opt-out of subsequent mailings. Needless to say, you need to be very thorough when incorporating the soft opt-in into your email marketing efforts.
Meeting someone and having them hand you a business card and ask you to email them is a form of consent, to be sure. However, in this case there is a much greater risk of a person forgetting they ever met you or solicited your newsletters. A worst case scenario has them firing back at your email as spamming and endangering your sending reputation. For this reason, it is Benchmark’s stance that this form of opt-in should be avoided.
You can strengthen a soft opt-in by sending the reader a Welcome or Verification Email that confirms they wish to receive your correspondence. This transforms a soft opt-in to a confirmed opt-in, and is a much better practice.