You probably have an opt-in form on your website. If not, you should! You need an opt-in form to add to your email subscribers.
Many online marketers in the United States use a double opt-in procedure. When website visitors fill out the opt-in form, they get an email with a link to confirm their email address. Most bulk email programs use double opt-in by default. But is double opt-in a good idea? Well, this is a controversial topic.
And the trends are changing.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of double opt-in.
Double opt-in pros
- Some people mistype their email address. With double opt-in, these people never get on your list, so you have fewer bounces. Too many bounces can get you in trouble with your ISP and email service provider. UPDATE: Wrong emails like this are filtered out automatically by your email provider. After 2-3 bounces, they are removed.
- Some “bad guys” write code that automatically fill in web forms with fake email addresses. With double opt-in, these people never get on your list. UPDATE: As I said above, these will be removed automatically
- People who take the time to confirm their subscription are more committed, so they’re more likely to open your emails, click your links, and buy from you. UPDATE: If you do a good job with your autoresponders, this isn’t a problem.
- People who take the time to confirm their subscription are more likely to remember you, so they’re less likely to mark your first email as spam. UPDATE: I just don’t have a problem with people marking my emails spam. It’s very rare. I use a good set of autoresponders after sign-up to create a relationship with new subscribers and that helps a lot.
Double opt-in cons
- It’s common for the confirmation email to end up in spam folders, so many people don’t see it and never confirm. This means that you lose subscribers. At one point, I had 3 lists adding up to 22,000 people and over 6,500 additional names were unconfirmed. That means I lost out on 6,500 people!
- The statistics that speak for double opt-in may not be significant enough to counterbalance the loss of subscribers. For example, you may get more bounces, but not a lot more.
Here is an article by Kevin Muldoon that is more balanced. It reproduces the MailChimp stats and then gives the other side of the argument.
Here’s an article by Tim Watson that also provides a more balanced view. In fact, it indicates strong differences of custom by country.
Which should you use?
I don’t think that there’s one right answer. It depends on your goals, your target market, and finally, your results.
I use single opt-in in the following situations:
- For events: When someone signs up for a webinar, I want them to be registered without having to double opt-in. I add these people to my newsletter subscriber list, so they get there without double opt-in
- For my assessment: I offer a free online business assessment and when people sign up, I want them to immediately go to the assessment form. So I don’t require them to double opt-in.
But I use double opt-in for most of my lists. I admit that single opt-in is tempting, given the experience I’ve had, as I described above.
UPDATE: I still have some double opt-in lists from the past, but all my new lists are single opt-in. And I plan on converting my double opt-in lists to single opt-in for 2 reasons:
- The losses are too big. Here is a recent screenshot from my biggest list. The list of unconfirmed people has grown to 10,914 people!!
- I now use a method that screens out most of the people who might not confirm — I make it clear on the opt-in page that the free offer will be sent to their email address. So, if they put in a fake one, they won’t get the offer.
Have you tried both single and double opt-in? What were your results? Have you looked at your email stats to see how many people are unconfirmed? Leave a comment!