Why double opt-in isn’t counterproductive for your email marketing

“I get more subscribers when I use single opt-in.”

“My emails already have an unsubscribe link, so why do I still need to confirm when someone signs up”?

These are common replies from some email marketers when asked why they forego double opt-in. It’s almost as though they’re happy with what single opt-in offers and don’t want to see what else is out there.

So is double opt-in a risk? Not really! It’s actually a great, long-term way of building a healthy mailing list. Given the current global scenario, it only makes sense to discuss a solution for building long-lasting relationships with your audience. 

Reality check: What is double opt-in?

At its most basic level, it’s going one extra step to ensure that your audience really knows what they’re signing up for. Once someone hits the submit/agree button of the signup form, a verification email with the confirmation link is sent to their inbox. Only after clicking the link do they become eligible to receive your marketing emails.

The so-called “downsides” 

Some feel that double opt-in means:

  1. Frustration for the user, because people want the process to involve as few steps as possible
  2. Fewer sign-ups, as someone who fails to click on the emailed link is a lost contact

However, in reality, these cases are rare.

The benefits of double opt-in

1. Increases email deliverability 

With double opt-in, the chances of invalid email addresses being added to your lists are zero.

Assuming a user makes a typo (guilty as charged!) while entering their email address in your signup form and clicks submit. They’re not going to receive emails from you at all unless they immediately realize their mistake.

In summary: A lead vanishing in a puff of smoke.

Now the (error-strewn) email address remains in your system until it is removed. If it’s not removed, it can hurt your chances of reaching the inboxes of your legitimate audience down the road. How? Emails sent to bad addresses return as a bounce. If these bounces happen too often, the reputation of your email-sending domain takes a hit. As a consequence, Email Service Providers (ESPs) like Gmail, Yahoo, Zoho Mail think you’re a spammer and send your emails to the spam folder.

How does double opt-in solve this problem? Simple! Unless and until someone clicks the confirmation click, their information doesn’t make it to your mailing list.

Note: As an aside, your subscribers clicking the confirmation link sends a positive signal to the ESPs, thus increasing your chances of inbox placement in the future. (This is because they’re showing great interest in your ties by opening and engaging with the confirmation email.)

2. Helps to avoid spam traps

First off, what’s a spam trap? It’s nothing but a trap set by the ESPs to identify spammers. Now let’s see how double opt-in comes into play in two scenarios.

Pure spam trap:

The ESPs deliberately create certain duplicate email accounts and circulate them across web pages. More often than not, spammer-programmed web crawlers (spambots in this context) copy those addresses. Why? They want to create bulk email lists so they can either send spam or sell them in the market.

In some cases, the ESPs blacklist the domains used to send such emails . Therefore, the story ends there.

But if that doesn’t happen, it puts the marketer in the firing line. This is because no one can opt-in using those addresses, so sending emails to them tells ESPs that the sender must either be a spammer or using a purchased list.

Double opt-in doesn’t really enter the picture here. You simply avert the whole problem by saying no to purchasing lists.

Recycled spam trap:

One of the good signs of an email marketer is identifying inactive contacts, segmenting them, and planning a re-engagement strategy. This not only helps you boost your conversion rates, but also helps you avoid hitting the spam traps that exist in the form of inactive IDs.

Inactivity could also mean contacts are no longer using their IDs. Such email accounts can be converted into spam traps based on the inactivity period different ESPs define.

Email inactivity period defined by different ESPs

Even though staying away from manual uploading of lists solves this problem, you might feel there are times when you’re forced to resort to this method.

A common example is conducting a trade show and collecting new leads. So how do you prevent collecting dead addresses or addresses that are on the verge of being considered inactive during your next trade show? A QR code is the answer.

Most of today’s sign-up forms can be accessed via QR codes.

Generating QR Code for a sign-up form

If someone scans the QR code of a (double opt-in) signup form, they have to click the confirmation link to become your contact. This means you collect only active email addresses.

3. Keeps you compliant with the law

With email marketing laws like GDPR, CAN-SPAM, and more thoroughly emphasizing the need to obtain consent from your subscribers, double opt-in qualifies as the best possible solution. Needless to say, it also offers protection against spammers who exploit privacy loopholes.

I hope this has helped you better understand double opt-in. Stay tuned to this space as we work on debunking the next biggest myth in email marketing.

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