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Most companies want you to want to hear from them. Whether digitally marketing or through direct mail, marketers care that you see their message. In some cases, you may have even signed up somewhere to get those messages. Perhaps a sweepstakes entry form drew your attention. Maybe you wanted a free magazine subscription and thus opted into the monthly newsletters that accompanied it. Companies that have you check a box (or something similar) to get their notifications are offering an opt-in option. It simply means you signed up to be on their mailing list. In some cases, that box is even pre-checked, so unless you uncheck it, you’re going to hear from them. Some may send you the marketing, then give you an opt-out option. Either way, they’re complying with legal regulations that required you to have the opt-in/opt-out option.

Case Law In Progress

Currently, only certain types of marketing require an opt-out clause. In fact, none of them require an opt-in choice. The CAN-SPAM act required companies to have a way participants could choose not to receive unsolicited emails.  -In 2005, the FCC continued those requirements over to the sending of unsolicited faxes as well. The fax requirements, however, have just been ruled invalid by the U.S Court of Appeals in a decision that said the FCC was overstepping its bounds by creating such a ruling.

Why It Matters

If one rule can be overturned with regard to an opt-out policy, so can another. It’s even possible the CAN-SPAM act could be repealed at some point in time. So, does it really matter that you offer potential customers a way to opt-out of your marketing?


If you’re sending emails, it’s required by law. Even if you’re not sending digital communications, though, it’s still a good idea. Unsolicited communication won’t necessarily force customers to think of you in a positive manner. Instead, it might make them think negatively of your company, creating an initial relationship you just don’t want. Giving your potential customers a choice, though, – no matter what the type of marketing – means they don’t have to hear from you, and often the power of choice is a great way to start a long relationship.