The Importance And Benefit of Double Opt-in Email Marketing

Posted on April 24, 2015 by in Resources | 19 comments

The Importance And Benefit of Double Opt-in Email Marketing

Ah, yes, email marketing. Much like online marketing, being able to build an email list is one of those things that we all want to master.

There are various methods to go about this:

  • Provide epic content that people crave and want delivered to their inbox
  • Offer an incentive on your site or blog that prompt people to sign to your email list
  • Using pop-ups and fly-ins to catch the eye of a reader and prompt an opt-in

There are a few more that I’m sure I’m missing, but no matter what method you use, the fact that you use any method at all shows that you want to grow your email list.

It’s one thing to grow your list, but it’s another thing to get subscribers who truly want your content and will open your emails.

The best way to get and deliver that is via the double opt-in option in your email marketing service.

What is Double Opt-in Email Marketing?

So first we gotta tackle this question: Just what in the blue blazes is double opt-in email marketing?

Good question.

Generally speaking, there are two options you are given when setting up your email subscription list on your email marketing platform:

(1) Single Opt-in, and (2) Double Opt-in

  • Single Opt-in works like this. You offer the ability to subscribe to your email list on your site and someone who visits your site decides that they want to get on your list. They type in their email address and they’re automatically added to your list — no other action is needed on their part.
  • Double Opt-in works a bit differently. If you offer the option to subscribe to your email list on your site and someone opts in to subscribe, then once they enter their information on your site, they will be sent an email asking them to confirm their subscription before they are actually added to your list. Therefore, there is essentially a two-step process to getting on your list.

That is what double opt-in is. Pretty simple, right?

Now, on the surface, the single opt-in idea for subscribing to your list may seem like the best idea, but there are a few reasons why you may want to avoid using it.

Is the Single Opt-in Option Just a Terrible Idea?

To answer the question about this, no, going with the single opt-in option for your email list isn’t always the worst thing ever (stale coffee… that the worst thing ever). On the other hand, though, there are reasons why you should probably steer clear of the using it…

The Pros and Cons of Single Opt-in List Building

Pro: It’s One Step Instead of Two

This is one thing that most of us could argue in support of single opt-in email marketing. We all want to make it easy and simple for our subscribers to get on our list so that they don’t have anything to hassle with and so that we gain that subscriber.

Therefore, since the single opt-in option offers that ease, it does have the upper hand in that regard.

Pro: It Build Your Email List Faster

Leading off the idea above, since using the single opt-in option makes it easier for people to subscribe to your list, logic would lead on to think that this will help you grow your email list faster.

Con: Spam Subscribers (and Don’t Forget Them Spambots)

Unfortunately, this con could cut the two pros listed above at their knees.

If you’re offering any type of incentive to your subscription opt-in list, then there are plenty of people out there who will enter a fake email address just to get access to the free information you are giving out.

This is a win-win for them in the sense that they get the information for free and they don’t have to be added to your list when they didn’t really want that in the first place. However, this is a huge bummer for you.

Not only will you be sending emails to non-existent mailboxes, but you also have emails that are just wasting space on your list and possibly making your pay more for no reason. Lest we not forget the spambots trolling the web to be irritating like this too.

Booooo!

So, even though single opt-in email marketing can have its upsides, the fact that it can be easily susceptible to spam brings it initial value to an all time low.

It’s not to say that that this choice will be the worst thing ever, but don’t you want to send your emails out to people who truly value your information and who will ultimately be the ones to buy from you?

That’s generally what most of us want, but single opt-in email market can cause issues with that goal.

Why it is Better to Use Double Opt-in Email Marketing

After taking a brief look at the single opt-in option for email marketing, you’re probably starting to shy away from the idea as it is. However, let’s take a closer look at why it’s better to use double opt-in for your subscription list.

A Look at Some Numbers

Back in 2011, MailChimp created a data driven post that took a look at the variables between double opt-in versus single opt-in marketing. Here is what their numbers showed:

  • Double opt-in emails had a better open rate and saw a 72.2% increase on Unique Opens (emails opened which did not count multiple opens from a single subscriber)
  • Double opt-in lists saw a 144% higher open rate compared to single opt-in lists
  • Double opt-in emails saw 48.3% lower bounce rate than single opt-in emails
  • The unsubscribe stats showed that double opt-in rates were 7% lower than single opt-in emails, too

Even though these are the statistics from a single data-driven post from MailChimp only, the numbers that they collected are rather revealing.

In just about every area that matters, the double opt-in email list performed leaps and bounds better than its easier opt-in counterpart. The bounce rate and opening rate seem to be the most alarming in terms of differences in how the two perform.

You can read the entire post here:

The numbers don’t lie, baby. Clearly, there are large advantages to using double opt-in for your email lists. Sure, the single opt-in option can technically allow you to grow your list faster, but the quality of your list and your email marketing efforts as a whole will probably be adversely affected. Not to mention that spikes in unsubscribers could get your kicked off your email marketing service.

And when you really think about it, the people who opt-in for you email list are already on a computer or mobile device which means that their email isn’t too far out of reach for them. Just a few clicks really.

If they go to their email and confirm their subscription, then chances are that they really do want to be on your list and you’ve just gained a valuable lead and subscriber.

If they decide not to confirm their subscription with you, then you may be losing a subscriber, but you likely just have saved yourself from a spambot or spammer that didn’t really want to be on your list in the first place.

Either way, you come out the winning end and you’re building a high-quality list which is where the money really is.

Over To You

Using the double opt-in option for email marketing appears to be the best choice out there, but everyone seems to have different opinions on this topic.

Personally, I’m team Double Opt-in, but that’s just me. Now let’s hear your opinion.

Do you think single opt-in or double opt-in is better, and why would you choose one over the other? Let us know your thoughts on the topic below.

Article Thumbnail by Author Anastasia_B via Shutterstock

19 Comments

  1. Team double opt-in as well.

    • Agreed,reason 1-they read the whole mail atleast 2-for the first informative response they will likely do some efforts to enroll their e-mail id.

  2. Ariel writes great articles, and I usually agree 100% with her.
    Not this one though….

    The stats quoted miss what is… for some lists…
    the most important stats.

    Gross dollar sales.

    And that’s why I don’t always color between the lines.

    ==>OccasionallyMercenaryJimmy

    • Ariel

      LOL thanks, Jim. I agree that the dollar sales is definitely an important metric. All those emails being opened are useless if they don’t convert to your end goal which I think comes down more to the content of the email rather than the email just being opened, but the double opt does appear to give a boost to the opening part at least 🙂

    • I prefer double opt-in. That said, the Mailchimp metrics may not tell us exactly what we think they do.

      For instant if you have a double opt-in list of 100 subscribers and you have a similar single opt-in list of 100 subscribers then these stats are valid; however if you have a double opt-in list of 100 subscribers and tested a similar single opt-in and received 300 subscribers, even if the quality of the single opt-in is lower, it “may” produce more “total” opens for instance.

      To Jim’s point, what really matters is dollars. 🙂

  3. I would never, ever do double-opt-in. The reason is simple: People forget to click the confirmation. Or, the confirmation never gets to them (junk mailed, etc.).

    Single opt in only. And then regular list hygiene to keep things running smoothly.

  4. Helps to keep clients off the spam lists 🙂

    Double opt in may make it harder to grow a list, but the quality of the list and the marketing performance will make up for it. A better usership and marketing performance be of higher value to stakeholder (and potential investors should that be your path).

    • I agree that the double opt in works best. I get charged for the more subscribers I have. Why would I want to get charged for spambots and those who don’t take the time to opt in?

    • Go for the triple opt-in, response by mail postcard.

  5. Wow !!! I was wrong …. the Way is Double Opt-in…Thanks Ariel !!!

  6. Thanks for the post. It’s nice to be reminded now and there about correct marketing services.

  7. Anti-spam laws in those countries that actually have laws that try to eliminate spam (eg. Australia) rather than encourage it (eg. USA) require double opt-in in order to comply with the law.

  8. I have both on my website Ariel and my experience is a bit mixed. There are people who used the single opt-in and are still opening and clicking on my emails while others join using the double opt-in and then go quiet or dead.

    A lot depends upon the person who is signing up and for the single opt-in, I have put in controls to ensure that spammies don’t get access to my free workbook. I’ve also realized that joining JV Giveaways even with double opt-ins leads to dead subscribers or those who unsubscribe as soon as they get their gift or when the first newsletter arrives.

    A good idea is to regularly monitor one’s list and clean it after checking if the information is still relevant to the subscriber with a polite email or asking them to resubscribe.

  9. Thx for the article.

  10. Depends on ur content. I teach golf online and I give content incentives so either u want play better golf or not. Single opt in qualifies just fine for the golfing world. No incentive to spam me because of the nature of my content it doesn’t cost me a dime for the incentive to opt in. Unsubscibes are almost nonexistent and bounces are nothing to even measure.

  11. Let’s not forget about the law in some countries. If it comes to complains or even a cease and desist order, douple opt-in makes sure the recipient entered his/her email to get your newsletter. The single opt-in can be done by anyone, who knows an email address of one other.

  12. We are using WordPress Divi theme and have figured out how to use Mailchimp and the Newsletter module. Can Mailchimp be used for RSS feeds?

    • Ailis: Yes you can do RSS Feed Newsletters with MailChimp. When you create a new Campaign there are four types:
      * Regular Campaign
      * Regular Campaign
      * A/B Split Campaign
      * RSS-Driven Campaign
      Pick the RSS-Driven Campaign. For details go to

  13. Double opt-in is a not only a part of permission marketing, what is more it helps keep list hygiene because you can be sure that the email address actually exists!

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