“Double opt-in”, also referred to “confirmed opt-in” when it comes to email marketing refers to the act of requiring new subscribers to “confirm” their subscription to a mailing list via a special opt-in link which is sent to their email immediately after they sign up for that list. That subscriber isn’t on the list until they confirm their subscription. It’s your choice as the owner of a mailing list of whether or not you want to include a double opt-in when someone new subscribes.
Most webmasters are polarized when it comes to the use of double opt-in, so let’s look at the pros of using it as well as the pros of not using it so that you can make up your own mind.
Double Opt-In – Yes or No?
Using Double Opt-In Pros:
Fraud Prevention – Requiring new subscribers to confirm their subscription to your list eliminates the chance that you’ll be sending email to people who never signed up for your list themselves. Sometimes, particularly if a free incentive for signing up is involved, someone will enter someone else’s email address in order to avoid being sent email from that list but so that they can still claim the free incentive. If this happens, without double opt-in in place then the person who owns the email address which was used to sign up by someone else begins to be sent what in their minds is likely spam, perhaps getting your list listed as spam or even reported.
Using double opt-in also means that you can make sure that your free incentive isn’t able to be downloaded/received until that person confirms their subscription.
Quality Over Quantity – This means that with double opt-in you only have the most quality subscribers to your list. These are all people who took the time to confirm their subscription and it’s extra evidence which shows that they are interested in what you are mailing about and are more likely to click on additional links in the future.
Audit Trail – You also have the audit trail in place so that you can prove that that person willfully signed up for your list and knew what they were getting from the start when they agreed to be sent further email from you. This proof can be used to show ISPs or anyone else that that person willfully signed up at one point.
Not Using Double Opt-In Pros:
Quantity Over Quality – Obviously 100% of the people who sign up for your list all aren’t going to confirm their subscription. Some people will forget about it, others won’t see it possibly, and others can’t even be bothered to go through the (albeit simple) step of confirming. Removing the double opt-in ensures that anyone who signs up for your list can immediately begin receiving emails, making your list that much bigger overall.
One Less Step – While most of your subscribers wouldn’t be confused by or take issue with a double opt-in, there is a small percent who could fall through the cracks.
I’m not just referring to those who could be turned off by that extra step. You could be losing potentially valuable and committed subscribers who had every intention of confirming their subscription and even earning you some sales commissions from your offer but who somehow missed the double opt-in email and are left instead scratching their heads as to why they never received any newsletters from you after signing up. Overall, removing double opt-in from the equation makes it that much easier as you can just start sending out emails with no fear of barriers getting in the way.
Ultimately, I use double opt-in because in my mind if someone is going to be turned off by an (extra) initial email which requires them to click on the double opt-in link, then in my mind it’s unlikely that they’ll ever check out your subsequent emails or offers.
Plus, after someone subscribes to your list, they are always directed to a new page and on this page you can and should explain everything clearly to your new subscribers so that they can expect the follow up double opt-in email and know what to do with it.
At the moment, I use a Smart video which comes free with my Aweber subscription which shows my new subscriber in a quick 10 second video an example of what that double opt-in email will look like depending on their email provider of choice. It detects this when they give their email address and selects the appropriate video to play accordingly, hence the “smart” in Smart video.
As I touched on, you can use bonuses like a free eBook which I do as incentive for them to go through the process. They are putting in the (albeit minimal) effort to confirm their opt in to get that incentive.
Again, it’s quality versus quantity and I’ll almost always choose quality in that scenario. As an example, I would rather have a list of 800 committed subscribers who confirmed and I know all willingly signed up for my list as opposed 1,000 who didn’t. In my mind I’m apt to connect with and likely even earn more from the 800 than the 1,000.