I understand the resistance against a double opt-in. Single opt-in email is easier and builds your list faster. With single opt-in, your potential subscriber signs up by simply typing their email address (and maybe their name) in your form and clicking the submit button. One and done.
On the other hand, double opt-in requires your potential subscriber to fill in the form AND (hopefully immediately) go to their inbox to click on the confirmation link in your automatically generated confirmation email.
I say “hopefully immediately” because their willingness to follow through declines over time.
As GetResponse puts it, “Every time you add an extra step to any process, your conversion rate goes down.” Adding a double opt-in process is no different. You know you’ll have fewer successful newsletter signups by requiring the extra hurdle.
In the same article, GetResponse goes on to say, “marketers generally see about 20-30% faster list growth when they use single opt-in.” In other words, only 70% to 80% of would-be subscribers are following through, clicking the link in that extra email. Think that’s bad? Mailchimp found the follow-through rate to be closer to 39%! Fewer than half followed through.
Are you sufficiently terrified of those statistics? Don’t worry. We’re about to add some context and show why double opt-in is still a preferred practice. We’ll also discuss some ways to boost your double opt-in follow through, so you won’t miss out on quality subscribers, i.e., readers and fans.
Why Use Double Opt-In?
Adding the extra step of a double opt-in can help you do the following:
- Improve email deliverability.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Email Service Providers (ESPs) work to root out spam and abuse. Your reputation as an email sender is built on several things. Establishing yourself as a valid sender includes sending the right email to the right people.
If you’re sending email that readers ignore or delete, your reputation is dinged.
If you’re getting a lot of unsubscribes, your reputation is dinged.
If you have too many hard bounces (sending to invalid email addresses), your reputation gets dinged.
The bottom line? If you want more of your email to reach inboxes, send quality email to quality recipients. Using a double opt-in helps qualify subscribers by ensuring they do wish to receive your emails.
- Ensure a healthier list (with valid and quality email addresses).
It’s easy to misspell an email address in an online form. Especially if you’re signing up on a smaller phone screen. Gosh, those thumbs! What if your valuable subscriber enters the wrong email address? You won’t know it’s misspelled until you try to send an email. And they may never know there’s a problem if they’re not expecting to hear from you right away. By the time they’d “miss” your email, they’ll forget about you. (Oh, I know that’s sad to hear. Sorry…).
Using a double opt-in helps to clear up email typos straight away.
Also, a double opt-in can reduce the number of nefarious signups. Bots are continuously at work to exploit vulnerabilities and gain access to platforms, devices, and users. By asking for a “click” within an email to confirm subscription, you can help to eliminate invalid addresses. And once you cross the threshold of a free account with your email service provider (MailerLite, Mailchimp, etc.), you’ll probably be charged based on the number of subscribers. Why pay for email addresses that have no value for you?
- Engage subscribers and build relationship right out of the gate.
The earlier you can “reach” a reader the better. Those first minutes in the relationship matter. That’s when you are top of mind, and when your subscriber is anticipating your email, watching their inbox for you.
Don’t waste the opportunity to connect with impact.
Your initial email sets the tone of your relationship and lets your subscriber know what to expect from you. It is your first chance to delight them, or surprise them. Your first chance to give them something of value, to make them laugh (if that’s your thing), or draw them close, into your circle.
This is not the time to use a generic template or form letter. This is the time to be you. Do that early, and you’ve gone a long way in building anticipation for future emails.
Furthermore, double opt-in subscribers tend to be more valuable in the long run. These more engaged subscribers usually have higher open rates and click rates – up to two times higher in studies by GetResponse and Mailchimp.
You may be able to pick up more subscribers initially with a single opt-in process, but over time these subscribers may lose value and even end up hurting your email deliverability.
EmailOctopus says it like this: “ISPs use engagement signals to judge whether your emails should make it into the inbox. Or be sent straight to spam.” A low-engagement subscriber list may divert your author newsletter to the spam folder.
Tips for a Better Double Opt-In
You know the risks. Nobody wants to lose a subscriber because they simply neglected to confirm their subscription. And if your readers are less tech oriented or super busy or distracted, they may not be expecting that important email. So if you want to improve the number of double opt-in follow-throughs, make sure they’re expecting that email!
Let them know in advance they won’t be receiving emails from you unless they go to their inbox, open your email, and click that button. Let them know on your newsletter subscribe form and/or on your newsletter landing page.
Here are a few tips to get that confirmation click:
- Be explicit. Let subscribers know they must click the button in your email to confirm their subscription.
- Craft your subject line. Use language that indicates important action must be taken. Phrases like “Almost there” or “Don’t forget this” will grab attention and let your recipients know something else is required.
- Keep your confirmation email clear and concise. A long letter might be ignored or set aside for “later,” which may never come. Be personable, set some early expectations, and lay out next steps clearly.
- Make your confirmation link impossible to miss. Create your call-to-action so it captures the attention of your recipient once they open the email. Use a brightly colored button or contrasting color that stands apart and stands out. Surround it with some white space to command attention.
Using a double opt-in does carry the risk of missing out on potential subscribers, but a smarter approach can minimize this risk. Plus, you’ll reap the benefits of a healthier, more engaged audience.
Got questions? Comments? Leave them here, or join us in the AuthorCompany Book Marketing Group on Facebook.
Heather is a freelance marketing specialist and author. She writes a weekly blog for AuthorCompany to help Christian authors navigate marketing technology and engage their target readers. She lives in sizzling Louisiana but dreams of mountains, chilly days, and a little snow wouldn’t hurt, either.