Why confirmed opt-in matters for your email marketing

5 minute read

Whether you call it double opt-in, confirmed opt-in, verified opt-in or you love your acronyms and just call it COI, we call it a very good idea.

For the uninitiated, double opt-in is the process of confirming a new subscriber on your list by sending them an email with a link that they need to click on to verify their subscription. When capturing data using Sign-Up.to’s forms, it’s a mandatory process (you can use our default confirmation process or set your own).

We’re asked quite often if we can switch this off, and our answer is always no. Some people fear that by asking users to confirm their details they’re creating a barrier which will put people off – an understandable fear but something that’s easily overcome with a bit of planning.

Before we get to that though, lets look at the reasons why confirmed opt-in is a really great idea:

  1. It’s the only way you can stop someone signing up other people to your list without their permission. Whether it’s done maliciously by a competitor or by accident, it happens and it can damage your brand and your mailing reputation.
  2. It’s the only way to prove permission. Related to point 1, but even more important. If someone complains to one of the spam reporting bodies about your email, a double opt-in record will stop the complaint cold. Likewise, if the UK’s Information Commissioner inquires about your data capture practices, you don’t need to break a sweat.
  3. You’re not burning money on mailing addresses that don’t exist or people who just don’t care. What’s worth more to you – 2,000 with confirmed email addresses or 10,000 addresses where you’re not sure if they’re actually even valid?
  4. People get their email address wrong, and there are an unbelievable number of bots out there that will fill your forms with spam and submit them – filling your database with junk unless you check the details.

You may be asking how much of a problem point (4) really is. So did we. So we did an experiment. We took two forms on our website and ran one with double opt-in and one with single opt-in for just over 5,000 subscriptions, to see what would happen.

The result surprised us! For the single opt-in form, 60.5% of the email addresses recorded were rubbish. Sheer junk. We’re talking bot-created psxgpirz@orphlulc.com (a real example) which are going nowhere. Imagine 60% of your email distribution budget wasted before you even start! The double opt-in process resulted in a completely clean list (as you’d expect) which also produced a 10% higher response rate from mailings (after screening out the junk email addresses from the single opt-in list). We have quite a popular site so we tend to get hit by a lot of spam bots, but it’s easy to see that it’s a real problem for anyone doing data capture.

So, hopefully you’re sold on double opt-in as a good idea. How do you make it really work for you? Here are a few quick tips to sum things up:

  • Customise your opt-in confirmation email. We set a standard one for you in case you forget, but for best results, personalise it for your brand.
  • Remind the subscriber what they’ll be getting, why they want it and how often they’ll hear from you. Show them why your emails deserve some of their precious time.
  • Set the email address the confirmation is sent from to the same address as you’ll use for your regular mails, and prompt recipients to add it to their address books – this will aid your future delivery to the inbox.