Like a lot of things in Internet marketing, this is a hotly debated topic. Some will tell you that you absolutely must use double opt-in lists, others will say you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you do, and reducing the size of your list.
The truth is, only you can decide what’s right for your business, but here are the basics of each set-up, and why you might want to choose one over the other.
With a single opt-in list, users find your sign-up box, enter their name and email address, click submit, and are immediately added to your list. No muss, no fuss, no worries about a lost email.
But there is a downside to the single opt-in – actually, a couple of them.
- People who are only looking to take advantage of your sign-up incentive might use a non-existent email address to try to get something for nothing. If you provide the download link via email rather than the thank you page, that won’t work, but these unusable email addresses will still clutter up your list and ultimately cost you money.
- Some people will deliberately sign up someone else for your list, thinking they’re being helpful, or perhaps just funny. If the person who owns the email address doesn’t want to be subscribed, they’ll blame you.
- Spam complaints will increase. When you don’t require people to opt in by clicking a confirmation link, you run the risk that they will forget they asked you to contact them in the first place. Plus, those whose “friends” signed them up without asking first will rightfully mark your emails as spam.
A double opt-in list is one in which a potential subscriber finds your sign-up page, enters her name and email address, and before receiving any further communication from you is required to click a verification link granting you permission to contact her. Yes it’s a little bit of a hassle on her end, and a little more difficult for you to set up, but you’ll reduce your spam complaints and fill you list only with people who genuinely want to hear from you.
Of course, all is not rosy with a double opt-in list either.
- Technology-challenged people find this kind of list confusing – especially when it’s combined with a product sale, where they’ll get many emails all at the same time.
- There are a few extra steps you need to take to set it up – like adding a thank you page and writing your confirmation email. However, these are great places to add an upsell, so do keep that in mind.
When Single Opt-in Becomes Double Opt-In
Even if you decide to go with single opt-in for all your mailing lists, your subscribers might still get hit with a confirmation email. Here’s why.
Email management systems like AWeber will only allow single opt-in if a user actually fills out an AWeber subscription form on a website. This is to help ensure that shady marketers don’t just blast a bunch of email subscribes to the list in an effort to build a huge subscriber base. If individual users actually fill out a form, there is a much greater chance they actually want to be on the list.
However, if you use a shopping cart or membership script that automatically adds customers to a mailing list, those customers are not filling out a form. Instead, the information is being passed to AWeber via email or an API. Since AWeber restricts single opt-ins to those who actually fill out a form, these users will be asked to confirm, even if your list is set to single opt in.
While we’re on the subject of AWeber, it’s also worth noting that if you do have a single opt-in list and you receive what they determine to be an excessive number of spam complaints, they will force you to use double opt-in.
Should you use single or double opt in? That’s entirely up to you, and largely dependent on:
- How comfortable your market is with email.
- The level of spam in your particular niche (Internet marketing is probably higher than, say, cloth diapering).
- How you intend to deliver your mailing list incentive.
Whatever you decide, though, you’re not stuck with it. You can always change options later if you find it’s confusing your readers, or causing an undue number of spam complaints.
Confused by AWeber and all its options? Grab a copy of AWeber Mailing List Setup and I’ll walk you through setting up your account, adding email lists, and adding an opt-in form to your website.