Email Opt-In: Single Opt-In Versus Double Opt-In
Before you begin to build your email marketing list, you'll need to decide if you want customers to use a single opt-in or a double opt-in to your email list. Of course, in order to do that, you'll also need to understand what a single email opt-in and a double opt-in are and how to implement them. In this section, we'll explain both techniques and the pros and cons of each.
What is a Single Opt-In Email Sign-Up?
When you hear somebody say "single opt-in" in reference to email marketing, it means a sign-up process in which a user does not need to confirm that he or she signed up. In short, once the user enters his or her email into the sign-up or join box, the email address is instantly added to your email list and the new subscriber instantly starts receiving emails from you.
What is a Double Opt-In Email Sign-Up?
Unlike a single email opt-in sign-up, a double email opt-in sign-up requires that a user confirm that he or she has actively joined your email list. This is typically done by generating an email to the user after he or she signs up. That email then requires the user to click a link in the email in order to confirm that he or she is the owner of the email address and does want to receive emails from you. This process eliminates many of the "bad" email addresses that get entered into a system (typos or incorrect email addresses) and also protects against instances where somebody may be taking "revenge" on another person by using their email address to sign up for numerous email marketing lists. It essentially insists that the new subscribers confirm that they do own the email address that they signed up with and do want to receive emails from you. If you are using a third-party email marketing platform such as Comm100, you will most likely have the option of simply turning a double email opt-in feature on if you wish. If you are creating your own in-house email sending solution, you'll need to create this process with your own development team.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Single Opt-In?
Single email opt-in and double email opt-in solutions both have advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of using a single opt-in system include:
Easiest on the User: Single email opt-in is easiest on the subscriber. He or she won't need to look for an extra email in his or her inbox or remember to click a confirmation link. The subscriber gets the instant satisfaction of beginning to receive email immediately.
Fastest Way to Build a List: As we'll discuss below, one of the disadvantages of a double-opt in is that, often, people simply never confirm their subscription and you ultimately benefit from fewer sign-ups. This is particularly important if you're paying to acquire email addresses. A single email opt-in will allow your list to grow more quickly. That speed may come at a cost, however.
Less Lost Email Addresses: With a double email opt-in, some subscribers will simply never remember to confirm their sign-up (or the confirmation email goes to spam). In that case, even though you did the hard work of convincing somebody to sign-up for your email list, you won't be able to contact them and you will have essentially "lost" the email address.
Less Tech Resources Used: If you are using a third-party email marketing platform such as Comm100, you won't need to allocate any additional tech resources to building out a double opt-in system if you want one. However, if you are building your own proprietary email marketing platform, a double opt-in will require more tech resources to build and a single-opt in may be a more effective solution to get your email marketing program up and running.
The disadvantages of a single opt-in email sign-up system include:
Less Respectful of Users' Privacy: These days, individuals have a great concern about their online privacy. A single opt-in sign-up procedure is less concerned with privacy and information control, and some users will notice that and be concerned. Some online privacy certifications require that you use a double opt-in system.
Greater Risk to Your Sender Reputation: When you don't use a double opt-in system, a number of bad addresses can enter into your email list. This includes mistyped email addresses, which can impact your sender reputation by adding to the statistics of undeliverable addresses that you're attempting to mail to. You also risk having somebody who is not the owner of an email address enter the address into your newsletter box as a joke. Then, when the actual owner of that email address receives your email, he or she may mark you as spam and negatively impact your sender reputation.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Double Opt-In?
A double opt-in solution also comes with a number of advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of a double opt-in sign-up process include:
Better Quality List Protection: As we previously discussed, at the end of the day it doesn't matter how large your email marketing list is if the list is not predominantly high-quality addresses. Without a double email opt-in, you risk keeping bad email addresses on your list. In addition to the examples noted above, malicious competitors may flood your single email opt-in form with bad addresses simply to degrade your sender reputation. A double opt-in email sign-up protects your list, your company, and your subscribers.
Opportunity to Communicate with Subscribers Immediately: A double opt-in email sign-up process also gives you the ability to communicate with your subscribers immediately in the confirmation email. You can tell them more about your brand, ask them to add your email to their personal white list, or even provide a special email offer. This allows you to put a communication in front of them while they are still thinking about you after having signed up.
The disadvantages include:
Slower List Growth: A double opt-in process will mean that your list grows more slowly. It requires more work of the user and often results in "lost addresses" as described below.
Lost Addresses: Whether it's because they simply lose interest or because your confirmation email goes to the spam or junk folder, many email subscribers will simply not follow through with confirming their subscription, and you will have lost a potential marketing lead.
More Tech Resources Required: If you are building your own proprietary email marketing solution, a double opt-in system will require more tech resources. If you are using a third party email provider such as Comm100, you won't need to worry about these additional tech resources!
Can You Test Each?
All good marketing involves testing! If you're unsure which sign-up solution is best for your business goals, try using a single email opt-in for a month and then a double opt-in for a month. Track sign-up volume, spam complaints, bad email addresses, and overall email list activity. Then compare each against your goals and determine which the best solution is for your company.
What is Recommended, Single or Double Opt-In?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to single email opt-in versus double email opt-in. In the long run, making the decision that protects the quality of your email list and your sender reputation is always going to be more important. However, you may find that with a single opt-in you don't experience a high volume of bad or malicious addresses and you can grow your email list at a quicker pace. Ultimately, you'll need to weigh your business goals about list growth, customer ease, and protecting your list quality and sender reputation against each other. If you're unsure, it's always better to err on the side of caution with a double opt-in. However, only you can determine what's best for your company.
Determining what type of opt-in you want to use with your sign-up process is the first step that you'll need to take before you begin to build your list. However, it's not a permanent decision and you can always change your mind later!