The Pros and Cons of Double Opt-In
How to Build Email Lists & Not Be Labeled a Spammer
By Angela Wu
Many successful Internet business owners state that their most
important asset is their "list." That is, their list of customer
addresses or the email addresses of their newsletter subscribers
is what accounts for a great deal of their profitability. As a
result, there is a wealth of information on how to build this
golden list. The two primary ways to build a permission-based
Single opt-in only requires someone to send a subscription
request before he or she is added to the list. Supporters of
this method often believe that it's the quickest way to build a
large list. A large list is sometimes thought of as the easiest
way to bigger profits.
Double opt-in requires two requests before the person is added to
the list--the initial subscription request, plus a confirmation
of the request. Double opt-in supporters often believe that this
is the best way to a 'quality' list and avoid potential problems.
There has been a great deal of debate over which method is more
beneficial. Here's a quick run-down of some of the pros and cons
to using double opt-in.
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You may lose a certain number of subscribers. Some people can't
be bothered to confirm their requests, while others who genuinely
want to receive your newsletter may not understand the
You can pick up subscribers that never intended to subscribe.
For instance, let's say you use a double opt-in process which
asks users to confirm their subscriptions by replying to the
message. Some people may reply with "no thanks" or something
similar in nature--but because they replied, they are
automatically added to the list
Reduces the probability of Spam complaints. While it does not
eliminate them completely, many list managers can keep track of
date/time of the request, IP address, and referring URL so that
you have evidence that the subscriber opted-in. Related to this,
you won't get people subscribing their friends to the list
without their knowledge. The confirmation process will help to
ensure that people are only subscribed with their consent.
Creates a cleaner list. People have to use their real email
addresses in order to confirm their subscriptions. This also
eliminates misspelled addresses or those with typos. This can
attract outside advertisers who what to be sure of the "quality"
of your list.
Identifies potentially more responsive subscribers. Those who
are genuinely interested enough to confirm their subscriptions
may also be more inclined to respond to your newsletter, whether
that is by purchasing one of your products or by simply
participating in surveys or events you promote.
One of the primary concerns with using double opt-in is the
potential loss of subscribers. It does make a difference what
software you use to manage your list. One with confusing or
complicated confirmation instructions is far more likely to cause
headaches for both you and the prospective subscriber. One of
the simplest confirmation processes is that which offers a
"one-click confirmation"--that is, the person clicks on a link
within the email message to confirm.
Many factors are involved when it comes to determining which
opt-in method is "better" for your business. If your audience is
primarily non-technical people who would generally not understand
how to confirm a subscription request, then single opt-in may be
better. On the other hand, let's say you are getting subscribers
from other sources (such as co-opt registrations with other
sites)--in this case, it may be safer to use double opt-in.
Angela is the editor of Online Business Basics, a practical guide
to marketing a business on a beginner's budget. This guide
offers loads of instantly useable tips and links, in a
down-to-earth style that even marketing "newbies" can
understand! A helpful Online Business Directory is included
The article content for this page is Copyright 2003 by Angela Wu.
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