Having a well curated email list is an essential marketing tool for growing your local small business. Even with today’s big emphasis on social media marketing, Email marketing is still the Champion. The decision on whether to build your list using single or double opt-in is a critical one and one you need to be aware of.
Experience and recent changes in the Internet Marketing landscape have led me to reverse my long-held position on using a Single Opt-in method. I now strongly recommend, especially for the local small business, that you use a double opt-in method to build your email list.
In this blog article, I’ll discuss why and a few tips to make your email list building efforts more successful.
But first…What Is Single And Double Opt-in?
Single Opt-in. When people sign-up for your email list, they’re name is active on your email list as soon as they click the submit button.
Double Opt-in. When people sign-up for your email list, they have a second step to take; they will receive an email asking them to click on a link in order to verify their subscription. It’s a two-step or “double” opt-in.
Up until about a year ago, I was recommending using a single opt-in. My reason for using single opt-ins is that you’ll build your email list faster because a percentage of people won’t take that second step of confirming their email subscription. And it’s true…single opt-in will get you more email subscribers quicker than using double opt-in.
“So Why Did You Switch to Double Opt-In?”
Essentially, it comes down to quality over quantity.
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of scummy activity on the Internet. Back in the days when I used a single opt-in method, I would see a lot of spammy sign-ups from questionable countries. Don’t ask my why they bother, but they do. Many will say: “So what if I get a bunch of spammy emails…my email blast doesn’t care if I send to 100 people or 10,000 people and at least I haven’t scared any legitimate subscribers away with that second email confirmation step.”
They’ve got a point, but that’s not the whole story…
There are many benefits to using the double opt-in method to build your email list:
Cheaper. Typically, you’ll be using a commercial email service and their pricing is based on quantity. By eliminating the spammy sign-ups, your list is smaller as will your monthly bill.
Better Open Rate. There are two reasons why you’ll get a higher percentage of people opening your Email with a double opt-in list than with a single opt-in list: (1) Those spammy sign-up will never open your emails, (2) The people who took that second step have taken action to find your emails and open it the first time around…they’re already trained and if your email went into their spam folder, they dug it out and chances are you’re on their whitelist now.
Better Click Through Rate. For similar reasons as to the better open rate, a double opt-in rate is going to give you a higher percentage of people clicking on the links in your emails.
Better Email Deliverability. The cleaner your list, the fewer bounces you’ll receive and the higher your sender reputation. This all translates into improving your email deliverability rate…how many emails get past the spam filters.
Less Chance of Being Flagged a Spammer. Scummy sign-ups mean you no good. By avoiding all of those sign-ups you significantly reduce the chances of people maliciously flagging you as a spammer, doing harm to your online reputation. And these days with things like CASL Compliance upon us, we don’t need the grief!
“OK, Scott, sounds good, but I still hate the idea of legitimate prospects not getting on my list because of that second step”
I hear you. I wrestled with that question for a while too. Here’s how I got over it:
You may get 20% or so of people not completing that second step but the vast majority of those are those spammy sign-ups. The actual number of people who are legitimately interested in you who don’t complete that second step is actually very small.
Furthermore, I believe that for someone to be truly considered a legitimate prospect they need to be willing to get through what is a very minor request…to click on a confirmation link in their email. If they can’t handle that, do we really want them anyways?
So…don’t get freaked if a significant percentage of people (say 20%) don’t complete the opt-in. They really aren’t worth the fuss.
Use Double Opt-in For Long Term Success
If you take a long-term view to building a quality, responsive email list your email marketing efforts will greatly reward you and be a valued part of your marketing mix. Using a double opt-in method to build your email list along side a reputable Email service will serve you well.