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Building your list the right way has long-term rewards.
How you set up the sign up process for your email list can have a big effect on how engaged your subscribers will be later on. It might seem counterintuitive, but if you let people subscribe without any sort of confirmation, you can end up with a less engaged and less profitable list.
This is why one of the proven best practices of email marketing is to use “double opt-in.” In this post, we’ll cover:
Double opt-in does require some extra work, both for you and your subscribers. But if you want better engagement, higher deliverability, and more sales from the emails you send, it’s usually the best way to go.
Double opt-in, also called “confirmed opt-in,” is a method of subscribing to an email newsletter where subscribers have to confirm two times (hence the “double” opt-in) that they want to receive emails from you.
It is used to screen out invalid addresses and improves the overall engagement levels of a list. Once your list is sent up to use double opt-in, no one can accuse you of sending spam – neither competitors nor email services.
The double opt-in subscription confirmation process consists of two steps:
Only then can the user receive email newsletters. Double opt-ins should be implemented in channels where consent to receive email is usually not explicitly given. Otherwise, you can get a lot of spam complaints and get blacklisted.
Here’s an example of confirmed opt-in sign up form from AWeber customer The Disney Food Blog.
Step 1: Someone fills out the sign up form on your website:
Step 2: They see a “thank you” page with instructions about how to confirm their address:
Step 3: They go to their email inbox and find the confirmation email.
Step 4: They click the confirmation button or link in the confirmation email.
Step 5: They are brought to the final confirmation page.
This is when a subscriber enters their email address into a form, clicks submit, and is automatically subscribed to a list. There is no confirmation email sent with single opt-in. It is the most popular way to get new subscribers, but it does result in a lower quality list.
Among the emails submitted you may find nonexistent addresses, typos, or other people’s emails that their owners did not specify.
Sometimes single opt-in is used covertly. Users leave their mailing addresses on the website but don’t realize that they will be receiving emails in the future. Here are a few ways this can happen:
Double opt-in requires customers to confirm their email addresses twice. It’s not enough for users to leave an email on the website. They have to find the confirmation email you’ve sent and click on the link in it to confirm the subscription.
|Single Opt-in||Double Opt-in|
|Convenience for the subscriber||The user doesn’t need to look for the confirmation email in their mailbox to subscribe.||Some people dislike the extra step confirmed opt-in requires. They already took their time to write the address and now they have to confirm it.|
|Email list growth||The mailing list grows faster because anyone who submits their email address is automatically subscribed||All of your contacts are included in the email database, but you can only mail to the subscribers that have confirmed their addresses. Double opt-in can slow list growth down a bit, but not much.|
|Email list engagement||Quantity doesn’t always mean quality. Single opt-in lists tend to have lower open and click-through rates. So even if a single opt-in list is slightly larger than it might have been with double opt-in, the double opt-in list will get more clicks and opens.||Double opt-in lists get more engagement – more opens, clicks, and sales.
Don’t focus solely on the size of your list: what really matters is how engaged your subscribers are. Smaller lists can often drive better results than larger, disengaged lists.
|Getting into spam||Inactive or mistyped addresses or spam traps can be added to the email list, which harms the sender’s reputation.||Only confirmed addresses end up in the email base. This means your list is “cleaner.” As a result, your email deliverability rates will be higher.|
|Email service providers||Email services might get suspicious about your list building practices||Even if they suspect you of sending spam, double (aka “confirmed”) opt-in will be one of the strongest arguments that you do everything by the rules and collect email addresses legally.|
Some companies don’t understand when to change from single opt-in to double opt-in. You should switch to double opt-in:
The practice of double opt-in is a proven email marketing best practice. Some of its advantages are:
If you want to build a high-quality, engaged list of subscribers, then set up double opt-in. That way, you only keep people interested in your emails, reducing the risk to your reputation.
This is the first step in communicating with the customer. The potential subscriber fills out the sign up form and clicks the “Subscribe” button.
Here’s an example of a sign up form from AWeber customer The Buffalo Zoo.
There are two ways to do this:
The email should contain a button or link for subscribers to confirm their email address. Keep your confirmation email simple. Remember the goal is to get your new subscriber to confirm their email address.
The Buffalo Zoo uses AWeber’s default confirmation email.
A thank you page is where your subscribers will go after completing the sign up form. Your thank you page can be used to set the subscriber expectation for how often and what you’ll be sending in your emails. It should also be used to encourage them to confirm their email address.
Here’s the thank you page from the Buffalo Zoo:
You can also send a final “you are now officially subscribed” email. This is what the zoo does. Here’s what their final confirmation email looks like:
There are some mistakes that email marketers often make when setting up double opt-in for the first time.
Give a brief explanation of why double opt-in is necessary. A short sentence such as “We want to protect your data from theft by third parties” is enough.
Even if you follow all the best practices for email marketing, there is still a chance some of your confirmation emails can end up in the spam folder. So remind people to check their spam folders if they don’t see your confirmation email within 5-10 minutes of subscribing.
Your email marketing service will provide you with a default confirmation email. That’s an okay start, but try to do better and customize your confirmation email. You don’t have to redesign the whole email, but at least try to add your company’s logo, change the colors to reflect your brand, and edit the words in the confirmation email so your subscribers feel like you’re welcoming them yourself.
Start addressing the user by name from the first email you send them. Especially at this crucial first step when they confirm their email address.
Double opt-in is a subscription in two steps: a person leaves their email in the sign up form on the website and then secures consent using a link from the confirmation email. This two-step confirmation process reduces the number of spam complaints and sending errors, as users confirm their interest in the mailing.
Again, to set up confirmed opt-in you need:
Double opt-in also helps avoid penalties for processing personal data without a person’s consent. If you follow the best practices we’ve outlined here, you can have all the benefits of a high-quality list and not slow your list growth down. Some email senders get 96% of their new subscribers to confirm – even with confirmed opt-in!
What are you using for your email lists – double opt-in or single opt-in? Have you ever considered switching from one to another? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.