Can I Trust You?

Who do you trust on the Internet? How do you decide who is or isn’t trustworthy when in most cases, all you initially have to go on is a website?

Not long ago, we talked about trust and welcome messages (as part of a larger discussion of urgency in email marketing).

Your welcome message is key to establishing/furthering your credibility and reputation, but today I want to back up to an even earlier point in your email campaigns:

Before The Opt-In: How Do Visitors Perceive You?

Welcome messages can do a great job of setting expectations and building trust once someone has subscribed — but they’re no good for people who haven’t yet subscribed!

So how do you get people to trust you enough to give you their email address?

There are no doubt many techniques and tips that can help build trust with website visitors, and I want to hear your thoughts and experiences on what those are. But for now, let’s zero in on one trust-building element every email marketer needs to include with their opt-in form:

Privacy Policy: Show People They Can Trust You

Put a link to your Privacy Policy near your opt-in form.

Many sites have a privacy policy that explains how any personal information you submit to the site is handled (you can see our own privacy policy here). This can go a long way to alleviating visitors’ privacy fears.

Typically a link to this policy appears somewhere near the end of the page. But what if people don’t read to the end of your page? They might see your opt-in form, but not see anything about whether/how you protect their privacy… and as a result, they may refuse to sign up.

What Should Go In A Privacy Policy?

Some questions you can answer in a privacy policy:

  • What Information About Me Do You Collect? How Do You Do So?
  • If I Give You My Email Address, Who (Else) Is Going To Contact Me? (Do You Sell/Rent/Share My Email Address With Anyone?)
  • Who Do I Contact With Questions About Your Privacy Practices?

The language that you use there doesn’t necessarily have to sound like a lawyer wrote it (though if you’re working with one, s/he may be able to help you). What matters is that you show visitors that their email addresses are safe with you, that signing up to your list won’t wreak havoc on their inboxes. Do that, and you remove a barrier to opting in.

Some Privacy Policy Examples and Templates

Please note: we don’t endorse a particular privacy policy wording or layout, including any of the ones shown here. I pulled these examples from Google and Wikipedia searches. They’re meant to show you how you could address visitors’ privacy concerns.

And of course, make sure your privacy policy accurately describes your privacy practices 🙂

You also may find it useful to look at the privacy policies of websites you visit to see how they address visitors’ privacy concerns.

How Else Do You Build Trust Before The Opt-In?

What other tactics do you use to get your site visitors to trust you enough to sign up to your email campaign (or to take some other initial action)?


  1. Mike Herberts

    9/19/2007 4:57 am

    I have a ‘policy’ link near my opt-in form but…….
    I also have a link that says ‘I bet one of your neighbours is already subscribed’ This link shows a graphic map of my current subscribers geograhich location. So…..If it’s good enough for them……..;0)

  2. Justin Premick

    9/19/2007 9:06 am


    That’s a really cool use of the geographic mapping tool!

    I wonder how a thumbnail of the map would perform against the text link (would the thumbnail build more trust and thus more subscribers)…

  3. Mike Herberts

    9/19/2007 11:39 am

    Well Justin….there is only one way for me to find out…

    I’ll test it!

  4. Gratis

    9/24/2007 1:52 pm

    Hi Aweber,

    Maybe you can create some sort of HackersSafe service as well, including button and such to display with web form to drive up conversion.

  5. TJ McCue

    9/25/2007 1:13 am

    Great points. Highlighting the privacy policy seems like a good trust-builder. Another idea is to have some positive, REAL testimonials. You know, not the ones from

  6. Justin Premick

    9/25/2007 1:34 pm


    Good ideas – authentic, believable testimonials can definitely help build trust. And I agree, providing a link and/or picture with the testimonials can increase their effectiveness.

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    6/10/2008 8:30 am

    […] a privacy statement (i.e. “we will not share your email address…”) to your signup form. Create […]

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    10/9/2008 10:40 am

    […] why they would want to give up some more time and inbox space to get your email, things like links to a privacy policy and subscriber counts may prove to be the tipping point.

  9. Abdul Rehman Mayet

    7/29/2009 12:04 am

    I always use a privacy policy. This gives potential subscribers reassurance and confidence in parting with their contact details.

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  11. Mike

    9/7/2011 12:45 pm

    A privacy policy is necessary to ensure visitors privacy. They need to be confident with the content of your website at any time. If you post cookies, you should at least let your visitors know about it.