An opt-in policy requires a potential customer to self-select the services they wish to subscribe to, and how any information they provide may be used. Also referred to as permission-based marketing.
In practice, an opt-in policy involves creating forms where services such as email newsletter subscriptions are unchecked by default. The benefit of this approach is that a user who has actively considered the offering before signing-up, is a more qualified potential customer.
An opt-out policy is where an existing customer receives electronic communications—usually on the basis of a prior relationship—without providing express permission.
The European Union Privacy and Electronics Communication Directive (introduced in 2003), makes provision for electronic communications (both email and text/SMS) to be initiated with existing customers on the conditions that:
The Directive is the biggest stride yet towards harmonising European Union rules affecting digital and non-digital marketing.