The Double Opt-in: Can it Save Your Email List?

Email marketing: The crown jewel of selling content online.

The only thing better in terms of delivery rates is a text message straight to a reader or customer’s phone.

Businesses and online marketers collect email addresses using various tactics, including giving out free content, revealing popup boxes when users land on sites and posting killer blog posts that visitors want to hear about without having to type in a domain name every day.

The point is to accumulate as many valuable email addresses as you can, with a well-designed, well-placed email opt-in form.

With that, you have a choice to make. Are you more interested in using the single or double opt-in email acquisition technique? If you keep reading below, we’re going to explain how these two methods differ, why the single opt-in has seen better days and even some stats on how a double opt-in strategy can save your website.

What’s the Difference Between Double and Single Opt-in Email Marketing?

You’re trying to bring in more email subscriptions, but what’s the best way to do this? You may have heard of single and double opt-in email marketing, but what do these terms mean?

In short, they simply refer to the amount of steps it takes for your users to completely subscribe to your email list.

Single Opt-in – The user types in their email address (along with whatever other information you’re collecting,) and they are immediately placed on your email list. The next email message on your marketing campaign goes out to them with any additional confirmation.

Double Opt-in – This option is where the user types in their email address (and any other information) to show their interest in your email marketing campaign. Another message is sent to that particular email inbox for the person to confirm that they would like to complete the enrollment. The entire process takes two steps.

double optin

Doesn’t a Single Opt-in Sound Better?

At first glance, it seems that a single opt-in is the no-brainer.

After all, your users only have to walk through one step, and this must lead to more email subscriptions, right? This is indeed true, and many people argue that single opt-in email marketing is still a better option, but I would argue that most experienced online marketers are all about the double opt-in.

Just to clarify, however, the single opt-in solution is still acceptable. In fact, the single opt-in email marketing tactic has some rather convincing advantages:

  • It’s only a one-step process – This means that you will make the subscription step much easier, and you won’t tick off your readers who may find it tedious to make two confirmations that they want to be on your email list. The idea is to keep things simple with the single opt-in, and from a user standpoint, it has plenty of advantages.
  • Your email list grows faster – A benefit like this is so darn tempting for online marketers, considering the whole point of using email marketing is to make money at some point.

How the Single Opt-in Can Stab You in the Back

Let’s think about how the single opt-in works in conjunction with the internet we all know and love. Like stated above, your email list grows faster, and it makes the process a little easier for your visitors when they want to subscribe.

It looks like a match made in heaven, right?

Not so fast, because as we know, the internet can turn against you if you’re not careful. How will the single opt-in stab you in the back?

Fake Email Addresses

Let’s say you put together a nice eBook to give away for free to everyone who subscribes to your email list. The eBook is all about the importance of responsive web design and how to develop websites that snap into place when people are using them on mobile devices.

You pour loads of work into the eBook, and your true subscribers enjoy it, subscribe to your list and accept the additional emails you send out in the future.

Unfortunately, with a single opt-in form, people can punch in fake email addresses. Many folks are more interested in the free content you give away, and they don’t want to get inundated with whatever emails you have planned for the future.

These fake email addresses clutter your email list, make your open rates less accurate and force you to try and give away your valuable eBook (or other free content) without acquiring a useful email address.

Spam Bots

The spam bots have similar effects as fake email addresses, although they are more ruthless than regular people trying to get free stuff.

In fact, if you’re not careful, you could find yourself with a list filled with spam email addresses, considering they are more likely to come in faster than the regular folks that land on your site.

It’s Usually More Costly

Each email service provider has its own rules on pricing, but let’s take MailChimp for example. You receive up to 2,000 subscribers for free. It’s simple enough. However, once you go over this 2,000 subscriber mark, you are required to pay a monthly fee.

Every time you pass one of the preset MailChimp thresholds, your rates go up, and you end up trying to figure out ways on how to cut costs elsewhere.

Since using a single opt-in box generally collects fake and spam-based email addresses, your list gets saturated with addresses that hold no value.

Who knows? You may have a few thousand useless email addresses that force you to pay more money than you actually should be paying.

How the Double Opt-in Saves You

According to MailChimp, double opt-in email address acquisition has some huge benefits over the single opt-in technique that previously dominated the internet.

Lower Your Email Bounce Rates

The bounce rate is an area in your email service provider that you should take a hard look at. In short, a bounce is counted when one of your emails hits an undeliverable email inbox. Hard bounces are worse for your account, because they indicate that the bounce back was due to a permanent reason. This often occurs when someone types in a fake email address or you get targeted by a spam bot.

A soft bounce entails an email address with a temporary problem. This may mean that the email address is temporarily down or it was once active but is now closed or malfunctioning.

MailChimp is more concerned with hard bounces, but neither is going to serve you well. In short, you can actually get your account suspended if you accumulate too many bounces.

There’s good new though, because according to the study by MailChimp, hard bounces decrease by 48.3% when you implement a double opt-in form. The soft bounce rate decreases by 25% with a double opt-in.

Increase Open Rates for Your Emails

This is the stat that most people care about, next to click-through rates. If your subscribers don’t open your emails, then what’s the point of sending them out in the first place?

With a double opt-in, MailChimp saw a 72.2% increase in unique opens, and a 75.6 % increase in total opens. These are staggering numbers, and it’s worthwhile to keep in mind that double opt-ins receive more repeat opens per user when looking at the total open rate.

Increase Your Email Clicks

Now to the part that makes you money: Clicks. When companies and individuals use the double opt-in method, the lists have a click increase of 114%. This is more than double the rate you would see with a single opt-in system, leading us to believe that the true money-making formula is in the double opt-in.

It’s worth noting that these numbers are obviously going to be skewed because the percentages decrease for single opt-ins. This is because of the fake email addresses in the database. So, let’s say that you didn’t get slammed for all those bounces. Your stats are flawed, since none of the numbers you see on your MailChimp dashboard give you a true reflection of how many people are opening or clicking through your emails.

It may not seem like a huge deal at first, but when running a business, it’s nice to have accurate statistics to make projections.

Decrease Your Unsubscribe Rate

Another way to get MailChimp (and other email providers) to flag your account is to hike up your unsubscribe rate. Basically, if everyone is unsubscribing from your email list, MailChimp thinks that no one wants to view your content and that you may be sending out spam or useless information.

However, with a double opt-in, your unsubscribe rate drops by 7%, meaning that you don’t have to earn as many followers to make up for those lost emails, and you won’t get flagged for having a junk list.

Over to You…

The email marketing game is rather simple in terms of creating content and sending it out. The big problem that companies and marketers have is the whole process of acquiring email addresses and keeping them around to view the emails.

With a double opt-in, you improve your chances of running a successful marketing campaign, and it may even save your WordPress site down the road. If you have any questions about the benefits of double opt-in email marketing, leave a few lines in the comments section below.

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