I know that there is a big debate on the internet whether companies should use double opt-in or single opt-in when someone subscribes to their email lists.
There is a huge misunderstanding about why double opt-in is used, though’… Today I’m going to explain why you shouldn’t send subscription confirmation email during your opt-in process and why still people think it’s useful.
What are Single Opt-In (SOI) and Double Opt-in (DOI) process?
When you insert signup forms to your websites, you ask for contact information from your website visitors. They pay you with their email address and other information for a free content.
And when someone fills out a signup form (subscribes to your newsletter, lead magnet, offer, etc.) their data goes into your database (that can be a simple Google Sheet or your email marketing solution).
This can happen in 2 ways:
- Single opt-in process: When someone subscribes, the email address and contact information go straight into the database (to the email marketing list) without any question. Your welcome email arrives right away.
- Double opt-in process: When someone subscribes, her/him have to check the given mailbox and click on a link to confirm subscription. After the subscriber clicks on this link, she/he confirms the subscription to the list and your welcome email arrives. In case your confirmation link is not clicked, you can’t send emails to the subscriber.
As you can see double opt-in requires much more effort from the subscriber to get on your email list:
- Go to the mailbox
- Wait for your automatic subscription confirmation email (does not always arrive right away)
- Open it
- Click on the link
- Close the “confirmation message” webpage (where you state that she/he successfully subscribed)
And after this process, you can send her/him your welcome email…
I’m amazed that in a UX oriented world like ours this type of confirmation process still exists. This is why I started to search on the topic, check the use-cases and understand the reasons. And I found something that blew my mind.
“Double opt-in” shouldn’t even exist?
So I was eager to understand why anyone would like to use this complex confirmation process for authentication. But didn’t want to read the old, well-known blog articles on the topic as they aren’t even surprised by this process.
I had to turn to forums, Slack channels and speak to different people in the industry. And I found tons of false and non-acceptable arguments:
1. It prevents “bad people” to subscribe “good people’s” email addresses
As you already know, double opt-in requires people to click on a link in their inboxes. So if someone subscribes them they can avoid it by not clicking the confirmation link.
That’s bullshit. Do you know 1, only 1 person who is subscribing other people to random newsletters? Please tell me if you meet one, I’d be surprised…
Please understand how these malicious subscription events happen. Understand the real use-case.
Most of the times robots subscribe other people’s email addresses to signup forms, not humans. (There are many reasons for it, don’t want to get into details here.)
But we can very effectively protect our signup forms from these spambots: just add Invisible ReCaptcha technology to your signup forms.
I don’t know whether other providers have this feature or not… But at Automizy we can filter 99,9% of your spam subscribers using Invisible ReCaptcha.
Why? Because you should always care about your human subscribers’ experience. And the technology already works and it’s stable.
2. It ensures higher engagement
MailChimp says: “The double opt-in method ensures that you target subscribers who really want to hear from you. These types of lists have much higher engagement levels over time, which means more opens and clicks and less bounce and unsubscribes.”
Whoa, what? Wait a minute!
Of course, these lists will have better open and click rates on average. Because you don’t accept people who are not engaged enough to subscribe to your list.
But… You are doing lead nurturing, for God’s sake!
You teach your subscribers and make them prepared for sales. Which means, you can send relevant emails to colder leads and warmer leads too, not just to warm subscribers.
Just because they don’t click on your boring confirmation emails’ links that doesn’t mean they won’t like your content. And buy from you later… That is a completely invalid argument and it is something that makes me feel nervous.
3. Double opt-in reduces bounce rate
Mistyped emails won’t turn active, as the people don’t receive the confirmation email – so they won’t get on your email lists at all.
It could be a valid argument if we would understand the true problem here: if there is high bounce rate for a long time your deliverability could go down.
But better email marketing automation providers already handle this problem: for example in Automizy, every contact (that has an email address that doesn’t exist) will automatically and straight away turn to Hard Bounced status.
Which means the list will automatically clean itself. Thus, there won’t be any issues with deliverability. Also, you just pay for active contacts, which means you don’t pay for bounced contacts… So what is the problem here with single opt-in again?
4. Your marketing provider requires it
Uh… I don’t want to say bad things about old school email marketing providers as their solution is good (usually). But just because traditionally and technologically double opt-in was used doesn’t mean you should still use the same approach today.
It is a tradition that has a history: they couldn’t protect your signup forms from bots before therefore they created this authentication process where the subscriber has to put the effort there.
Today’s word is all about User Experience. If it is avoidable, don’t make your subscribers’ life more difficult. The technology is there already.
But, I found some acceptable (but not necessarily logical) reasons for using double opt-in process:
1. It’s legally binding
In different industries, it is compulsory to use double opt-in for subscription processes because they would be in big trouble if they wouldn’t use it.
These regulations are usually applied to financial information holders and healthcare industry.
2. Your company is a target of harassment
Well, I don’t really know how you can make people so angry that they try to ruin your business… but I admit, in this specific case, a double opt-in process will help you avoid attacks.
All in all, I think double opt-in should be used only in the last 2 cases and in no other situations. I believe that it is a tradition that had to work this way but today it is outdated and should be changed.
Thus, I personally recommend you to use single opt-in wherever you can to make your subscribers’ life easier, grow your list faster and providing a better experience.