Search “Double opt-in” in Google, and you’ll get over six million hits! Clearly, a lot has been written on the subject. Six million results, a large part of which are composed of questions like “Should I use subscription confirmation?” and “Double opt-in or single opt-in?”…which leads us to believe that there is still a great deal of doubt about whether this technique is really necessary.
But, what is double opt-in?
When a user subscribes to your email marketing program via a registration form, you have a choice. Either you want to welcome him and start sending him newsletters right away. Another option is for you to ask for an email confirmation. In this case, the subscriber will receive an email in which you ask them to confirm their email address by clicking a link. It is this latter possibility that we call the double opt-in. Double, because there is a first authorization at the time of registration and a second with the confirmation email.
The advantages of double opt-in
Double opt-in allows you to be sure:
That the email address is valid;
That the owner of the email address is really the person who subscribed to your mailing list.
These two advantages allow you to begin your relationship with your subscriber on good terms:
He agrees to receive your newsletter; he even agreed to it twice. Thus, the subscriber will not classify your emails as spam later on down the road.
By requesting that he clicks on the confirmation link, you have already generated your first interaction with your subscriber. This is a positive sign sent to the webmails and a good start for your sender reputation.
You avoid sending your newsletter to an incorrectly typed email address. This will prevent you from having to clean up your list later.
In summary, the double opt-in allows you to obtain a more qualitative and more reactive list of subscribers who are less likely to mark your emails as spam. Who could ask for more?
Double opt-in? But I’m going to lose money!
If we look at the reality of the situation, the double opt-in is still far from being used universally. Even senders who use it in their welcome emails don’t always use it thereafter. Some even have the bad habit of requesting double opt-in, but still sending their emails to their entire lists, even to those who did not click on the confirmation link.
Why? Because by eliminating a portion of their subscriptions (those who don’t confirm), many marketers fear a drop in performance. Fewer emails sent may mean less opens, less clicks, and thus, fewer conversions.
They forget too quickly that the quality of addresses collected and their reactivity is an important factor in determining deliverability. By leaving in unconfirmed email addresses, there is a greater risk that many of the messages will not reach their intended recipients, even those who may be among the most reactive.
Still not convinced? Test it out!
It is quite easy to test these two techniques separately. The bad news is that it will take some time, but the good news is that you will receive a definitive answer of which method you should use.
For your existing addresses, you don’t need to do anything. Continue to use them as always.
For one month (at least), use a single opt-in procedure. All addresses collected will be saved in a list dedicated specifically for the test. This is so that you can separately analyze the results of the campaigns sent to these addresses.
The following month, repeat the procedure, but implement the double opt-in. Again, isolate these addresses in a list for testing in order to analyze the results.
Once these two months are over, try comparing the results of the two lists. Naturally, the relative performance (in percentage) will favor the double opt-in. But what you should really analyze is the number of average clicks received with your emails (don’t forget to remove the clicks from the unsubscribe link). This number will enable you to see whether it is in your best interest to use a double or single opt-in procedure.
Don’t hesitate to share your results with us once you have them!