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Single or Double Opt-In? Which Should I Use?

The great email marketing debate: single opt-in or double opt-in? Which is better and why? Which should you use? I’m going to try to throw in my two cents and explain why I use what I use and hopefully provide you a little insight as to why one may be better than the other.

Firstly, if you don’t know what the different is, let me try to explain briefly what each means for your list. Whenever a visitor chooses to opt-in to your email list you can set whether or not they are required to confirm their email by clicking on a confirmation link in a confirmation email they will get immediately after signing up. Single opt-in requires no confirmation link or email. Double opt-in requires the visitor to confirm their email address before they can be officially added to your list.

So right off of the bat, you probably are beginning to come up with some benefits of using one over the other. Single opt-in does not require your visitor to make any additional steps. It also will significantly increase the number of sign ups you will get on your list since there’s no chance of them missing the confirmation email or changing their mind.

On the other hand, you might begin to see where this can become a problem, as well. You might get a lot of junk or fake emails signing up or even sign ups from people who don’t check or use their email. This can wind up bloating your list pretty quickly.

I personally use double opt-in and I will talk about why in just a minute.

So why should you choose single opt-in? A lot of email marketers have split test this and tried both single and double opt-in with their lists. What were their findings? Not only did they see a significant amount of more subscribers but their emails also saw a better open rate. Single opt-in also reduces any possibility of someone interested in being a part of your list from changing their mind or missing the confirmation link.

But it’s not all roses.

Dead Emails = More Money

Firstly, you pay to have those emails on your list. Most email services charge by the size of your list. The more subscribers you have, the more you will have to pay for month.

Yes, you can go through your list every month (even weekly) and remove all the inactive but here’s the two challenges with that:

1. It’s extremely time consuming to do this frequently and it requires a lot of upkeep that otherwise isn’t as necessary with a double opt-in

2. Because there’s no confirmation link subscribers need to click, there’s way to gauge whether or not they are actually interested. In other words, I’ve had readers confirm their email on my list and not open a single email from me until 10 or more emails in. So, while you might think someone is inactive on your single opt-in list, they might not be. You could send a “last chance” email warning them that you’re about to remove them but again, just another tedious and unnecessary process.

Reader Engagement And Quality

I find the subscribers on a double opt-in list are much more engaged and higher quality. I find those who can follow a simple instruction such as “confirm your email to be added on to my list” are already making a small compliance check thus, it will be easier for them later to follow through with future call to actions. It also tells me that they can read and understand English.

Have A Good Thank You Page

If you want to eliminate the possibility of people missing out of your confirmation links and emails, have a badass thank you page.

Make it utterly clear what your visitor’s next steps are after they opt-in. Use images and show them a screenshot of what the confirmation email and link will look like in their inbox. Provide direct links to their Gmail and Outlook accounts.

Opportunity To Use The Confirmation Email To Your Benefit

If you’re using a lead magnet like an e-book or video to build your list, you should use your confirmation link to deliver the goods to them. Email services like Get Response allow you to have custom confirmation pages where subscribers will be redirected to after clicking the confirmation link. So, instead of sending them to a “thanks for confirming your email” page, send them to the download page to get their lead magnet.

Better yet, send them to a page encouraging them to follow you on social media, or sharing your website on social media. They already made one small compliance, ask for another. It’s easier to get people to say yes once you’ve got them to make a small compliance. Make them jump through smaller hoops into larger ones.

Lower Unsubscribe Rate

Most people are used to having to double opt-in. If your first email to a subscriber on your single opt-in list comes days later after they sign up, they might unsubscribe immediately after not remembering why they signed up in the first place. Confirmation emails show your visitors what your emails look like and who they will be coming from. They become familiar with seeing you in their inbox immediately. Single opt-ins don’t allow this unless you have an autoresponder sequence in which they receive an email from you immediately (in which case you should just use double opt-in anyway!).

Canadian Laws

Even if you don’t think you have Canadian subscribers on your list or ever will, you never know. If you target an American audience, you will get Canadians, too. They consume the same media. Canada has the worst email marketing laws in the world. They require all email marketers to use double opt-in for Canadian subscribers. This is a much larger deal than you might think and it’s something worth investigating if you’re unsure.

What Do You Prefer?

Okay, so those are just a few of the reasons why I prefer double opt-in. What are yours? Do you agree with me? Disagree with me? Let me know in the comments below!

Published in Email Marketing

  • Dave Aronson

    The big advantage to double, and I think it’s what you’re alluding to re Canada, is that it protects you from accusations of spamming. That means that even your *other* emails will get through better.

    • This is true. People can’t argue if they confirmed their opt-in.