Permission-based Email Marketing: Mandatory vs Optional Opt-in

We understand any author with a growing list of readers may be daunted by the tricky task of email marketing. As an author, you’re always looking for more readers, but you also want them to be the right readers. 

Permission-based email marketing can help ensure your subscribers are right for you! Authors who use this approach obtain explicit permission from their subscribers before sending any additional information. An optional opt-in is more explicit than mandatory opt-in because it requires subscribers to make the active effort of subscribing to your mailing list. For a happier, healthier mailing list, try permission-based marketing.

Based on our understanding of the EU's GDPR legislation, we strongly recommend that authors use optional opt-in. The new regulations require that a service is "freely given", and we believe that requiring a reader to give you information in exchange for goods or services (i.e., your ebooks) would be in violation of this policy. See more information on optional vs. mandatory opt-in below:

Optional Mailing List Opt-In

Opt-in email marketing requires all subscribers for their email to be added to a mailing list. The email address owner clicks a confirmation link to be opted into the mailing list. 


  1. Reduced unsubscribe rate and rate of emails being marked as spam.
  2. Increases subscriber open and click-through rate.
  3. More engaged subscriber results in higher conversion levels.


  1. Slower subscriber list growth.
  2. Decrease in open and click volume. 
  3. More complex subscription process for both the subscriber and marketer.

Mandatory Mailing List Opt-In

Mandatory email marketing automatically adds a new email to a mailing list without definitively requiring permission from the subscriber. No confirmation email is sent to the subscriber for approval.


  1. Higher number of subscribers through reduced friction.
  2. Reduced barrier to subscription reduces subscription failure.
  3. Generates higher volume of opens and click throughs. 


  1. High unsubscribe rate and emails being marked as spam.
  2. Decreased deliverability and negative impact to sender reputation.
  3. Does not comply with email service providers' terms and conditions.

The Bottom Line

Optional opt-in is at the heart of permission based email marketing and should be the first choice for any author trying to build an engaged readership. Authors need to earn the trust of their subscribers if they want to change their mailing list sign-ups into engaged, lifelong readers