It is generally a good idea to grow your list using double opt-in. As a little refresher -
What is double opt-in?
- Double opt-in means your users have to confirm their wish to sign up a 2nd to active their subscription – e.g. by clicking a link in a checkmail (typical), or by answering to that checkmail, or by entering a code sent via checkmail (see screenshots below).
- The idea of the second step is to make sure, only the actual holder of the email address can subscribe and no unauthorized third party.
- By the way, sometimes double opt-in is also referred to as closed loop opt-in (in case you search for more information).
Main-advantages of using double opt-in:
In some countries, like Germany, a double opt-in is the only accepted legal proof of consent.
- Non-existing addresses are filtered out immediately; thus, they can’t hurt the sender’s reputation among email providers.
- Seeded spamtraps (e.g. typo-domains like homail.com) can’t poison your list; this also protects your reputation and prevents unnecessary blacklistings.
- Stronger permission:
The two-step verification results in a double informed consent. Such clear communication and deliberate action is worth more than a brief click. It forms a stronger initial relationship – no need for “permission reminders” or anything like that. Also it shows you care about the spam problem. In the end, emails are less likely to be classified/marked as spam.
- Cleaner web:
If you (1) send neutral checkmails focusing solely on the consent without further promoting your business, and if you (2) apply the UBC-definition of spam, the spam outcome will be reduced. (In case of a mistake, people will just have to accept one unsolicited non-commercial email.)
- Better response rates:
The gain in data quality manifests itself in a significantly higher response. MailChimp took a closer look at a sample recently. They found +75.6% in total opens, +114% in clicks, -48.3% in hard- and -25% in soft-bounces for double opt-in lists compared to single opt-in lists. That’s huge!
Potential draw-backs with double opt-in:
- Friction loss:
Due to several reasons, not every new subscriber confirms his subscription; depending on how well the process has been implemented, the sender gains 10%-50% less opt-ins compared to single/confirmed opt-in.
Double Opt-in gives a false sense of security. Even this isn’t 100% false-proof. Think e.g. of spamfilters or other crawlers that may follow links within incoming unknown emails. This way the activation-link could be triggered without any contribution of the address holder. A potential danger which is not just theoretical as you can read on smartfocus.com or on emailmarketersclub.com.
- Administrative costs:
- one additional email (“checkmail”),
- one additional landing page to catch to click,
- an extended data scheme (e.g. double opt-in timestamp)
- Use confirmed opt-in where possible, double opt-in where necessary. The more the danger of entering fake email addresses or typing errors, the greater the necessity for double opt-in. Broadly speaking, it makes a difference whether you collect an email address in a purchase order form or in a prize draw.
- Continuously optimize your double opt-in process and strive for a double opt-in rate of 90% or more – i.e. a state where 9 out of 10 sign-ups also click the confirmation link. We will look at how to do that in a follow-up posting.