An important decision you need to make for each list you build is whether to use single or double opt-in.
With Single opt-in, as soon as someone fills out and presses the “submit” button on your opt-in form, they are added to your email marketing list.
With Double opt-in (also called confirmed opt-in), there are additional steps. When the person submits the form, the autoresponder system sends them a confirmation email message.
Usually, the confirmation message contains a link which the person must click, then they get added to your list.
Some systems use other methods of confirming, such as asking the person to reply to the confirmation message, but the effect is the same.
The confirmation proves that the person has access to the email address they used to subscribe.
Both methods have pros and cons, so I will discuss those, then you can decide which is best for you.
The advantage of single opt-in is that the person is added to your list right away, and doesn’t have to go through the extra step.
The disadvantage is that if someone types the wrong address, that wrong address gets added to your list. If it’s an address that doesn’t exist, the emails you send to it will either get lost or bounce back.
However, if the wrong address is a valid one, that means it probably belongs to someone else who did not want to subscribe to your list.
Remember that it only takes one bad keystroke to mistype an email address. Also, some people intentionally use other people’s email addresses, either to send unwanted email to someone they don’t like or to try to get the list owner in trouble for sending unwanted email.
Some people don’t think you should be “allowed” to do business on the Internet, including sending emails that might advertise a product or website, so they like to cause trouble.
The advantage of double opt-in is that you tend to end up with higher quality subscribers. meaning that those who bother to confirm must really want to be on the list. This can help if you receive complaints about unwanted emails.
It can be argued that if someone cannot bother to click on a link in an email ad, or cannot figure out how to do so, they probably are unlikely or unable to complete a purchase online… meaning that there’s no point in having them on your list.
The argument against double opt-in is that confirmation is a hassle, some people don’t receive the confirmation email (true) or receive it long after they subscribe, and so on. Some people will even make complaints about the confirmation message itself, as crazy as that sounds.
Currently, GetResponse lets you send the confirmation message again to people who haven’t yet confirmed, but Aweber does not.
I know many list owners who firmly support one or the other of these methods and some like me who use both. This is one of those issues where there is no right answer; it’s up to you as the list owner to decide. Of course, you’ll need to make sure your autoresponder can handle the method you choose.
Most decent scripts can handle single or double opt-in, since a script that can do either is more useful and the people who write the scripts won’t care which method you use.
However, your hosting company might care. As I said in a previous lesson, I don’t recommend running an autoresponder script on a standard shared hosting account, and I definitely don’t recommend using single opt-in in that situation.
Most autoresponder services would prefer that you use double opt-in since they think it better protects them and their other customers from complaints about unwanted email. However, some still offer both methods. I’m not aware of any that are single opt-in only, but I guess it’s possible there is one.
Both autoresponder services I recommended, GetResponse and Aweber, allow both opt-in methods. (At least my accounts do; it’s possible that new customers may not have this choice.)
Some of the other services only allow double, so be sure to check before getting an account. It’s best to keep your options open, even if you think you only want one or the other.
If you are using a service and want a list to be single opt-in, it’s best to set that up as soon as you create the list, because some services don’t allow you to turn off double opt-in once it is on. Usually. the choice of single or double is on a list-by-list basis, so you can have lists of each type in one account.
However, I have heard some people say they were unable to create a single opt-in list in Aweber. It could be that they don’t understand how to do that; it’s hard for me to tell without seeing their account.
It’s also possible that Aweber (or another service) may force certain accounts to be double opt-in only. This could be people who joined the service after a certain date or who generated a certain number or percentage of complaints that the service decided was too high.
If you use double opt-in, you should pay attention to your confirmation rate, which is the percentage of people who submit your opt-in form who end up confirming their subscription. It will rarely be 100% since eventually, someone will mistype an address or not receive the confirmation message.
There are things you can do to increase the confirmation rate:
1. If you are giving a gift for subscribing, such as a free report, only give it to people when they confirm. People who give a fake address to get your freebie will be out of luck.
2. On the page where people are taken when they press the button on your opt-in form, explain that they need to confirm and tell them what that means. Also, ask them to whitelist you. It’s good to tell them the email address your messages will be sent from and the subject line of your confirmation message.
Whitelisting is a way that people can tell their email system that they want to always accept messages sent from a specific email address. The actual steps for doing this vary depending on the system, but it often involves them adding your address to their address book, friend list, buddy list, etc.
3. Tell people on or near your opt-in form that it is a double opt-in list. Those who know what that means will know to look for the confirmation message.
4. Customize your confirmation message so it goes along with what your opt-in form says. A good example is something like “Please click the link below to get your Dog Training report.” That is as clear as I can make it.
Notice it doesn’t say “confirm your subscription” or “join the list” because those phrases aren’t as good a match. The other wording in my confirmation message is put there by my autoresponder service, and I can’t change it. I was allowed to choose the subject line from a long list of
options or make up my own.
Here is how I generally use each opt-in method, but again, the choice is yours.
For lists like newsletters, e-courses, or prospect lists where the opt-in form is displayed to the general public, I usually go with double opt-in. If people don’t confirm, they don’t get the gift or other information they requested.
For customer lists, I use single opt-in, because the customer supplies the email address at the time of purchase, and people are unlikely to give a fake address at that time, unless the order is fraudulent, which is another issue. This includes lists associated with membership sites.