Is Double Opt-in Worth It?
I’ve received invitations to a BBQ party in Wisconsin, a trail of notifications of Christmas shopping purchases in Florida, an admonishment to close the gate from a UK suburb association, numerous car insurance quotes, invoices, periodic pleas from a gaming site to please please come back, and even a notification from a tax software company that the IRS rejected my return.
It also gives me a view into how well companies adhere to the federal CAN SPAM Act of 2003 and manage their email lists. Most do a pretty good job of providing the required unsubscribe link and making it straightforward for you to get off their list. Some even politely ask why you are leaving (sometimes I tell them). A particular pet peeve of mine is sites that make it hard to unsubscribe. These are usually sites where an account has been set up and you have to “log in” to manage your email preferences. In my opinion it is criminal that sites of this sort do not use double opt-in, why should I have to figure out how to log into an account I didn’t create to get rid unwanted email?
Which brings me to why I am writing this blog post. Despite what you might think, double opt-in is not widely used. Double opt-in is when you have to explicitly confirm you want to be on an email list by clicking on a link that is emailed to you. I almost never see the “confirm your subscription” emails in my inbox whether it is me or another person that wants access to some freebie that is behind an opt-in form. ClickZ states that despite double opt-in being held up as a golden standard for email marketers – only 30% actually use it. Frankly, I have a hard time believing the percentage is even that high.
The only industry that seems to take double opt-in seriously is the internet marketing industry. Internet marketers that promote IM products live and die by their lists so perhaps it makes sense that they have to be completely above board in how they manage them. Maybe it is the high frequency of mailings that cause the internet marketers to have to adhere to a higher standard. Whatever it is, I can certainly attest that the big brands are not bothering with double opt-in.
So although you will see countless articles recommending you use double opt-in for your list I can tell you that most marketers just don’t use it. So why should you? The extra step adds complexity and it is certainly true that you lose a lot of potential subscribers who don’t do the confirmation step.
So here is my take on when double opt-in is worth it:
- You are an internet marketer that markets products in the “make money online” space or another industry that has a lot of spam (like “forex”)
- You intend to send a lot of promotional emails that could be misinterpreted as spam.
- You intend to send an extreme volume of email (more than once a day).
- Your list is tied to an account creation on your site (sorry I just had to get that in there).
Otherwise I would not bother with double opt-in. However if you do turn it off, here’s an important tip for you: make sure you periodically go and “clean” your list. Delete any subscriber that hasn’t opened your emails in over six months. Since most email hosting services charge based on the number of subscribers, you’ll pay less. It will also increase your open rate which is tracked by the services. Having a responsive list is important and keeps your operation clean and free of any spammy taint.
Illustration credit: Ryan Lerch www.openclipart.org
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