A double opt-in email list is like any email based newsletter or e-course where people can sign-up through the Internet either on a webpage or sending an email to mailing list management software. What makes an email list “double opt-in” is that any person who subscribes must confirm their request twice.
The first time is when the user submits their email address to the web based form. For example, anyone who submits their name and email to my Blog Traffic Tips Newsletter at BlogTrafficKing.com must enter their first name and email address and then hit the button to submit their request to join the newsletter.
After the initial request is received by the email list software a special confirmation email is sent to the address the person input into the form. This is the second opt-in. The email contains a link which the recipient must click to confirm their subscription request. Once they have done this they have “double opted-in”.
You can see an example of the confirmation email also on my BlogTrafficKing.com page here – http://www.blogtrafficking.com/thank-you.html. This is the page I present to people after they fill out the subscription form to make sure they understand how to double opt-in and to ensure the confirmation email doesn’t surprise them and they delete it thinking it is SPAM.
There are several reasons why double opt-in is necessary, but a few key reasons I believe make it mandatory. The double opt-in confirms that the person who entered their email address actually wants to subscribe to the list. If this extra confirmation is not present (single opt-in) then any person could enter any email address to sign-up any other person.
Imagine if you upset someone and they decided to get revenge on you by entering your email address into hundreds of pornographic email newsletters. You would be forced to abandon that email account (unless you really really like porn) if these lists were single opt-in.
From the email list owner’s perspective it’s important that only people who genuinely want to be on your list are signed up. If you use a single-opt on method and, like the example I gave above, someone entered hundreds of email addresses of people who did not want to subscribe to your list, you would end up with a very poor quality list. Those “spam” subscribers wouldn’t respond to what you were offering since they are not your target market.
The whole point of an opt-in email list is to attract people who subscribe demonstrating that they are prospects for what you offer – their request for information signifies this. Using a double opt-in list is extremely important for keeping the quality of your email list high.
Consider you are selling advertising space in your email newsletter. You could boast that your email list has 20,000 members but they are all single opt-in and very likely many of the addresses on the list are not valid or go to people who never requested to be on your list. Your advertiser purchases some space in your newsletter but gets poor results so doesn’t buy again.
Now imagine a list contains 2,000, double opt-in hungry prospects that match a key target market. That same advertiser buys space in the newsletter and because of the more precise targeting and confirmed email addresses on the list, generates a better response. The result – a happier advertiser who becomes a repeat buyer of adspace in your newsletter.
Just being able to say “XYZ number of DOUBLE OPT-IN subscribers” is a much better selling point for any person attempting to monetize their list via advertisement placements.
All email list owners get unsubscribers and spam complaints – it’s the nature of email marketing. People hate spam and anything that smells even a tiny bit like it or if a person can’t remember signing up to your list, may result in a spam complaint (AOL email subscribers are the worst for this in my experience). Even if you have a nice big fat area at the start of your newsletter that describes how to unsubscribe for an email list you will still get people who hit that complaint link.
By using double opt-in you can reduce spam complaints down to single digit percentages or lower. A single opt-in email newsletter lends itself to abuse, resulting in more spam complaints and potential banning of your domain name by the major ISPs. This is something you must avoid at all costs because once you are on an email blacklist it is hard to get yourself off.
One final point on spam – while double opt-in is not law yet I foresee in the very near future it will be. Using a single opt-in email list will be illegal and anyone found doing so may face legal prosecution. If none of the above arguments are enough to sway you, the threat of legal action should do it.
I use AWeber.com (aff) to handle all my email lists (you can read my review of AWeber) and it has a switch you can flick on any email list to make it double opt-in. Be warned though, once you flick that switch there is no going back to single opt-in for that list, you will have to create a new one if you want single opt-in (you get unlimited autoresponder lists with AWeber though so it’s not that big a deal). The AWeber software handles the double opt-in process automatically and has plenty of customization options so you can determine what message is sent back to the user in the confirmation email.
GetReponse (aff) also has a double opt-in facility and I’m fairly confident that most robust third part email list manager/autoresponder services should have the double opt-in feature. If they don’t then they are not keeping up to date so I would recommend moving to a company that does.
If you use your own software, either custom built or purchased online, then you may or may not have a double opt-in feature. That’s a question for your technical person.
Last week I was checking my subscriber stats in my AWeber account and noticed that one of my email lists had over 80 subscribers in a 24 hour period where the average was usually 10-20. I was hoping it was because of a traffic spike from some exposure on a website or blog, but unfortunately it was not. A spam bot of some kind had submitted over 60 email addresses, all very similar, and clearly not from real humans. Thankfully none of these email addresses will be confirmed because of the double opt-in protection my list has, ensuring the integrity of my list is not adversely affected.
If you are serious about building a quality email list, and you should be if you are in Internet business, then double opt-in is a must. Even if it means you lose a few genuine subscribers because they don’t follow the double opt-in process, it is worth it to protect you from all the negative things that can occur reducing the quality of your list.
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