Ending The Debate On Single vs. Double Opt-In

October 11, 2010 · 57 comments

I know there is so much debate out there on opt-in. Single opt-in vs. Double opt-in. Which is better? What should I use? Does it matter? I get this question all the time when I coach clients – especially if they are just starting out or migrating from one email marketing platform to another.

So, I wanted to end the debate – here and now.

Now, perhaps you are thinking opt-in is such a trivial of an issue as it pertains to authentic list building. It is basic – but it matters!

In my option, there is a right answer that will end the debate– and I will share my personal view on the matter.

Now, let’s review some facts of single and double opt-in.

Single opt-in
This process requires someone to send a subscription request before the prospect is added to the email list. Supporters strongly believe that it’s the quickest way to build a large list.

Double opt-in
This process requires two requests before the prospect is added to the email list — the initial subscription request, plus a confirmation of the request. Supporters strongly believe that this is the best way to a ‘quality’ list and avoid potential problems.

Now, the pro’s and con’s of both.

Pros of single opt-in

  • No distraction or extra step needed can lead to bigger list. The prospect enters their email address, clicks submit, and immediately they are added to the list.

Cons of single opt-in

  • No verification may impact list integrity. Without verification, you never know each and every prospect that opted-in. There could be spammers or invalid addresses that are not going to be valid when opening or reading your emails.
  • Subscribers may not realize they are on a ‘list’. Prospects may opt-in for a teleseminar thinking it’s a one-time opt-in for an event, and not realized they’ve been added to the main marketing email list. Result? They will most likely opt-out.
  • Difficult to value metrics. With invalid addresses or faulty emails, it’s hard to analyze email metrics such as open rates and readability.

Pros of double opt-in

  • Reduces possibility of SPAM complaints with Internet Service Providers. It’s unlikely someone who has confirmed their subscription to your list will report you as SPAM to their ISP. They will either contact you or simply just opt-out.
  • Cleaner list (removes bad emails and mistypes). The process ensures people are entering their information correctly. Prospect opted-in with a bad email address? They won’t receive confirmation they’ve been added and will most likely opt-in again to ensure they are correctly added to your list.
  • Potentially more responsive. As the list is of higher quality based on the double opt-in process, the readers are more likely to want to click and open your emails – improving your readability and open rates.

Cons of double opt-in

  • May lose subscribers due to user confusion and requiring extra steps in the process. Prospects may not know they need to confirm their subscription. They might not see the notice on the thank you page or see the email asking them to confirm their subscription. As a result, you’re potentially losing out on new leads to your list.

The verdict? Do both!

You can ask (but not require) your new subscribers to confirm their subscription. It’s the best of both worlds. You’re not being limited by the chance of losing unconfirmed subscribers by having double opt-in AND you are allowing subscribers to confirm their subscription immediately after joining (which they wouldn’t be able to do with just single opt-in.)

Here’s an example of how we do it at Client Attraction.

As you can see in the red box, we ask our new subscribers to confirm their subscription after they opt-in. This is the email confirmation someone receives when they opt-in to our Client Attraction ezine list. It’s a very authentic and simple process for new subscribers to follow.

We don’t require it – it’s suggested. And, it has worked well for us by blending a good balance of the pros of both single and double opt-in. Try it, and it will help with authentically building your list!

Until next time… Learn It, Love It, Live It!

**********************
Want to use this article on your website or your own ezine? No problem! But here is what you MUST include:

Derek Fredrickson, Authentic Internet Marketing Specialist, is founder of the Authentic Internet Marketing System, the proven step-by-step program that shows you exactly how to authentically market your business online, in record time…guaranteed. To get your F.R.E.E. videos and receive his authentic internet marketing articles on attracting more leads and converting more sales online to multiply your current revenues, visit www.derekfredrickson.com.

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If you want to discover how to consistently, easily and immediately add hundreds (if not thousands) of highly targeted, ideal and super-qualified prospects to your email list, each and every month, using proven online marketing strategies that are easy to implement, genuinely authentic and that work – this free video training program is for you.

I respect your privacy. I will NEVER sell, rent or share your email address.

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane ConklinNo Gravatar October 11, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Wow – great idea – never thought of that. Both, not either or – probably applicable to a lot of situations.

Great stuff Derek!

Diane

Reply

Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 11, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Glad you like it, Diane! It’s the best of both worlds, really!

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samsonmediaNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 8:50 am

Derek, what email marketing program do you use? We use icontact & Aweber. Thanks -gene

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 12:09 pm

We use aweber for my site and Infusionsoft for Client Attraction.

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Atim KaviNo Gravatar October 23, 2010 at 7:19 am

Hi Derek,

Just wondering about what you’re seeing as the differences between Aweber & Infusionsoft. Why did you pick Aweber over Infusionsoft for your list?

Atim

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 23, 2010 at 7:42 am

For me, Aweber is simple and easier to use for now as my list grows. I don’t need all the functionality Infusionsoft has to offer. It’s all about ease of use and pricing while my list grows.

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Chuck BartokNo Gravatar May 1, 2014 at 9:12 am

Great article. I also have used Aweber, for almost a decade.
But always double Opt-in and have never found it a detriment.
We work in very small niches and our subscribers are eager follower

MaryNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 8:52 am

Hi Derek – I get this question all the time from clients. This is a great explanation of the pros & cons.

However, I’m wondering how you are doing both on the same list – and I see you are using AWeber, that requires double opt-in.

Thanks, Derek! 😉

– Mary

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Hi Mary,

Yes – we use Infusionsoft for Client Attraction – and that is not mandatory to use double opt-in. We choose to include it as an option (as per the screenshot).

For Aweber – my understanding is when you first start your account you have the option to NOT use double opt-in. But, once you select double opt-in – you can’t change it later.

I use aweber for my list.

Enjoy!

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MaryNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Ah! makes perfect sense!! Thanks – I use AW too – love it. 😉

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LettieNo Gravatar September 1, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Stands back from the keyboard in ameznmaet! Thanks!

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Reply

ClestineNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 9:10 am

Great idea
Derek,
What system would you suggest.
I’m currently transitioning from Constant Contact (single opt-in) to Aweber (requires double opt-in).

Is there one that allows you to offer double opt-in as an option?

Thanks in advance.

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Hi Clestine,

I love Aweber for people starting out (like me with my list) since it’s super easy, quick and affordable. I do believe it doesn’t require double opt-in when you first setup your account. However, once you choose double opt-in, you can’t change and go back.

Infusionsoft and 1 Shopping Cart are 2 programs I know of that allow you to choose either or.

Enjoy!

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CathyPNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 9:40 am

Derek – this is a great idea and I’m wondering why it didn’t occur to me lol!!

Joking aside, I’d be interested to know if you find that your evidence supports the list size vs quality argument?
Thanks
Cathy

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Mujiba Salaam ParkerNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 10:37 am

I like this approach Derek. Thanks for the great idea!

Mujiba

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

You’re welcome, Mujiba! Glad you liked it…

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 11:16 am

Hi Cathy, For us – it’s worked really well. We still are able to increase our list size dramatically without requiring the double opt-in and at the same time a majority (but definitely not all) confirm their subscription afterwards so on our list they have double opted-in.

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Heather SparrowNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 11:48 am

This is really interesting and Thank-you.
I would like to post this on my Blog and of course all Credit will go to you Derek?
I will be adopting this real soon.
Happy Columbus Day or wait that was yesterday and do trust you and yours had A Great Day.
Heather

Reply

Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Hi Heather,

Great to hear – you’re of course welcome to use it on your blog!

Thanks for getting the word out and happy to help…

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JanetNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 11:49 am

Derek,

Double optin is a good way to filter email addresses and the quality of your list, but I do find that most people will skip that part. I will try your idea soon!

Thank you,
Janet

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Hi Janet,

There are some tricks to ensure those people who don’t confirm their subscription actually DO it. On the thank you page – you can use audio or video (I use audio) to REMIND them to ensure they DO confirm their subscription.

The good thing about double opt-in is the lead is REALLY invested in you when they’ve deliberately gone through the process to ensure their subscription has been confirmed!

Enjoy!

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William AdlerNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Derek, if your lists self-bifurcate become some people double-opt and others don’t, do you recommend doing something with this information, e.g. treating the singles in a different way than the doubles, or trying to get them to confirm at a later date? : – ) Thanks, William

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 12, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Hi William,

You can always go back to those who single opt-in vs. double opt-in if you choose. We personally don’t at Client Attraction but it would be a good idea to follow up at some point but I won’t overly emphasize the double opt-in vs. provide more actionable content for them.

Make sense?

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Donna ThomasNo Gravatar October 13, 2010 at 1:00 am

Thanks, Derek!
When in doubt — choose both!
Aloha…Donna

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 13, 2010 at 9:59 am

Love that!

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Lesley RileyNo Gravatar October 13, 2010 at 5:53 pm

I must have a good VA because that is exactly what she has set-up for me! Thanks for clearing it up for us.

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 13, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Great to hear, Lesley!

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KasiaNo Gravatar October 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Thanks for this great article, Derek! I’m convinced now that if a person really wants to be part of my list and receive my ezine they will do the necessary steps. Bryan and I want to use a program that will grow with our busienss and so I think we’ll go back to Aweber because it’s just so much more versatile, and we’ll love and accept the double and single optins 🙂

Reply

Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 23, 2010 at 8:39 am

Aweber is the best for just starting out and super easy to use!

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Janice JohnsonNo Gravatar October 29, 2010 at 10:35 pm

This is great info Derek! Not only will it add more integrity to my list, but I won’t care off hose who don’t understand the process…now, does 1shopping cart offer double opt-in? Hmmmm.

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar October 30, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Thanks, Janice. Yes, I’m pretty sure you can configure 1SC to use double opt-in as well.

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JulieNo Gravatar February 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Hi Derek, I’m curious because I use Aweber too. If you’re not using a double opt-in, how do you create the confirmation link to include in the autoresponder email that thanks them for signing up?

I can’t find info on that anywhere within the Aweber knowledge base. And when I look at one of the confirmation email templates, it does not give the full url for the confirmation link. Am I making sense?

This is a great alternate practice, though.

Thanks,
Julie

Reply

Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar February 2, 2012 at 9:22 am

Hi Julie – I’m sure there’s way to do that in aWeber. The example I showed is from Infusionsoft where we give them the option to double opt-in but it’s not mandatory.

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Nick EllisonNo Gravatar July 13, 2012 at 4:02 am

Hi Derek. Surely if you are only ‘suggesting’ people confirm their email, but they are added to the list regardless then by default your whole list is single optin as the action of the user has no bearing on the outcome. So your list will still include all the negative aspects of single optin right?

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar July 13, 2012 at 10:22 am

Hi Nick – thanks for your comment and question. I believe you’re correct (sort of.) If the user chooses to double confirm their address by my suggestion (and I find most do) but not require it – it essentially tightens up the quality of your list for everyone who does confirm. I find it as a way to suggest it – but not enforce it. Thus, the best of the both…

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Terri ZwierzynskiNo Gravatar September 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I had a similar thought as William above (self bi-furcation), but about what content to send them (vs. trying to get the singles to double). What kind of unsubscribe rate differences do you see between the two lists? Have you tried sending different content to each…maybe with more focus on “free” stuff that would force the double-opt-in, whereas you could send more offers (in addition to free content, of course!) to the double opt-in list. Just wondering if you had tested anything like that.

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Derek FredricksonNo Gravatar September 25, 2012 at 9:16 am

Hi Terri – great question. We do test quite often different offers where we ask the subscriber to double optin again to be sure 1) they’ve confirmed their address and 2) be certain they want whatever the offer is. This is usually done for high-value free offers (not like other free offers are not high-value) – but really focused on them pre-qualifying and self-selecting themselves to receive whatever we’re offering. Great question – thanks!

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varunNo Gravatar October 31, 2013 at 8:46 am

Thank you so much, i was really confused b/w opt in an double opt in but your illustration help me to grab the difference b/w both……

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MikeNo Gravatar May 20, 2014 at 11:20 am

Thank you for the article.

I took a look and I see you have now changed your opt in protocol.

On ClientAttraction there is no longer the option to confirm.

I also see that for this website subscription, DerekFredrickson.com you require double opt in. Could you tell us the reason for these changes?

Thank you,

Mike

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