Keyboard with green subscribe keyIt should be apparent by now that your approach to email marketing should only involve sending e-mails to individuals who want to receive them. This is typically accomplished when someone signs up at your website to receive an irresistible free gift and you include a subscription to your ezine. Avoid any temptation to send unsolicited emails under any circumstances. I know I probably don’t have to say that, but just sayin’.

There are a couple of different ways of getting people to sign up to receive your emails with the simplest way being what we call the “single opt-in.” Someone enters their email address on your sign-up form and they don’t need to take any other action. Your autoresponder will immediately send them a “welcome” or “thank you” e-mail after their sign up. This e-mail will likely contain some instructions, a link for accessing their gift, and a few words letting them know they can unsubscribe at any time.

The other common technique is known as a “confirmed” or “double opt in” sign up. With this method, as soon as an individual submits their e-mail address in your form, they get back an automated response email that asks them to click a link to confirm their subscription. If the individual does not click the confirmation link, then they will not be added to your e-mail list.

Each of these methods has it’s own advantages and disadvantages.

Single Opt-In

Pros:

  • This is by far the simplest for both your prospective subscriber and you; they provide their e-mail address once and then they’re done.
  • You can begin sending your messages to new subscribers right away; there’s no need to wait for them to click a link in a confirmation e-mail.

Cons:

  • This method does not confirm that a particular email address was actually submitted by the person who owns it. Sometimes people make mistakes or write in bad addresses on purpose and you definitely don’t want to email to those addresses.
  • A competitor or someone else who wants to harm your business can submit third party email addresses, and those individuals could complain that they never signed up for your mailing — and possibly get you blacklisted with spam services.

Confirmed or Double Opt-In

Pros:

  • An individual who takes the extra step of clicking the confirmation or double opt-in link is likely to be more interested in your marketing message than someone who fails to make the confirmation. They are more committed and likely a better prospect for you.
  • It protects you from sending email to the wrong addresses or an address that simply does not exist. Plus it’s the best insurance you have against any kind of spam complaints. (And unfortunately, deserved or not, you’ll get some spam complaints.)

Cons:

  • If you’ve never sent e-mail to a particular individual before — and let’s face it, that’s the case with virtually all new subscribers — your confirmation message or double opt-in follow-up could easily be routed to their junk folder. Unless they happen to check it and notice your e-mail, they may never get the opportunity to confirm their subscription.
  • Some people might simply be too lazy to actually click on your confirmation link.
  • You will get fewer completed sign-ups. Period.

What’s the Right Way?

It’s far from a clear choice on whether you should use a double opt-in method to build your mailing list. The best approach may be to analyze the sign-up, confirmation and conversion rates for whatever method you’re currently using, and use those numbers to help you decide whether a different approach may be more effective.

Just know that in spite of some email service providers’ best attempts, it is not a requirement that you use double opt-in.  In fact, other than the fact that we don’t want to be seen as spammers, it is not against the law to send unsolicited email as so many will try to tell you. What you DO have to do by law, however, is to provide a way for subscribers to opt-OUT of your list. In other words, unsubscribe.

More on these topics to come.

If you need help in making some decisions around your email marketing plans, let’s have a chat about it: CoffeeTalk Time with Marty in my no-selling zone.

Would love to know your take on this whole double opt-in/single opt-in thing. Which one do you use primarily? Please share your views in the comment section below.