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Single opt-in vs double opt-in: Which is better for you?

This is one of those questions that comes up time and again.  Which is best?  Single opt-in or double? There are different reasons for both and I’m going to break it down Barney-style so you can make the best decision for your business.

Rather listen then read this post? This post is based off of Episode 127 of the Inbox Besties Podcast Listen on iTunes| Stitcher | Spotify

What’s the Difference Between Single Opt-Ins and Double Opt-Ins?

If you’re not quite sure what the difference between a single opt-in vs double opt-in, I’ve got you covered.  You’ve probably seen both and not If you're weighing the pros and cons of a single opt-in vs double opt-in, you're not alone.#singleoptinvsdouble #katedoster #inboxbestieseven realized it.

A single opt-in is when someone subscribes to your list and then… they are just on your list.  There’s no confirmation email or hoops to jump through.  Once they hit that subscribe button, they’re in.  You can email them once or a million times.  There’s nothing else for them to do in order to get all the juicy goodness you share in your newsletters.

On the other hand, a double opt-in is a two-step process where once someone hits subscribe, they have to make sure they mean it by clicking a button in their email that says “yes, I really want to be on this list.”.

So which is best for you and your business?  Well, the good news is that you can’t make the wrong decision here.  And you can always change it later if it’s not working for you.  So don’t overthink this, just pick one and go with it.

The Benefits of a Single Opt-in

One of the main benefits of a single opt-in vs a double opt-in is that with a single opt-in, you’re going to grow your list faster.  With a double opt-in, if you have 1,000 people sign up for your email list but only 700 of them confirm, you’re missing out on 300 subscribers.  That’s 300 people you’re not going to be able to help.  With a single opt-in, you get all 1,000 of them.

Single opt-ins are what I like to call ‘life-proof’.  Let’s face it, things happen.  The phone rings, a kid throws up, someone knocks at the door or life in general happens.  With a single opt-in, your subscribers are automatically added to your list and you’re able to send them a reminder email the next day with the link to access the freebie they signed up for.

Another benefit of a single opt-in is the options you have with your ‘thank you’ page.  You can immediately send your brand spanking new subscribers right to what they signed up for.  Even better, you can have your Easy Yes Offer front and center as soon as someone signs up.  Your Easy Yes Offer (sometimes called a trip-wire) is a no brainer YES for a lower-ticket item specifically for your ‘thank you’ page or you can offer a discount on one of your other offers that are only available when someone signs up for your list.

This is a strategy that I love and use with every freebie I create.  Unfortunately, the Easy Yes Offer doesn’t work well with the double opt-in method.  Can you have it in place with a double opt-in?  Yes.  It’s your business and you can do what you want.  But from my experience, those offers don’t convert into sales with the double opt-in.

Having an Easy Yes Offer on your ‘thank you’ page is a great way to get extra sales that you wouldn’t have otherwise.  Plus, you’re ultimately helping people faster because they are laying down the cash for the solution to their problem.

The Downside of a Single Opt-in

As with everything, there are two sides to the coin.  While single opt-ins are easier for your new subscribers to sign up and there aren’t any hoops to jump through in order to get on your list, that also means that if someone puts in their email address wrong or if you get attacked by spambots, those are also counted as subscribers.  Not only does this make your open rates go down but it can also mean that you end up paying more for your email service.

Most, if not all, email service providers charge you by the number of subscribers on your email list.   That means the more subscribers you have, the more you pay each month, regardless if they are real people or bots.  That’s why with the single opt-in system in place, it’s imperative that you have a list clean-up strategy in place.

Regardless if you have a single opt-in or a double opt-in, you want to have a list clean-up strategy and system in place but when it affects your pocketbook, it makes it that much more important.  I have a ‘break-up sequence’ in place so that if someone hasn’t opened up my emails or clicked on a link in 30 days or 60 days, they are removed from my email list.  If you need help with creating a break-up sequence for your list, check out the Email Marketing Fairy for easy swipe files you can use to get that in place right away.

I know it can be gut-wrenching to delete people from your email list, especially when you’ve worked so hard to get them there in the first place.  The truth is, if people aren’t opening up your email for 2 months straight, they don’t deserve to be on your list in the first place.  Remember, being on your list is a privilege.  If you don’t have the stomach to do it yourself, Active Campaign has an option to do it automatically.  It runs in the background, removing the people on your list who haven’t interacted with your emails without you having to do anything else once it’s set up.

The Benefits of a Double Opt-in

When you’re weighing out the difference between single opt-in vs double opt-in, the double opt-in strategy definitely has its benefits.

Since these people are serious about being on your list – after all, they had to jump through a couple of hoops to get there – you’re going to find that you have higher engagement.  That means a higher percentage of your list is opening your emails, reading what you have to say and clicking on the links in your emails.

In general, with a double opt-in, you’re going to have a higher quality of people on your list.  They are hungry for the information you have to share and are willing to do what it takes to have access to that information.

Another thing to consider is GDPR.  There are some arguments that a double opt-in is more GDPR compliant.  Now, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs when it comes to GDPR but Mariam Tsaturyan shared some insider tips on GDPR compliance that you can check out here.  As far as my understanding goes, GDPR does not require a double opt-in but it’s a good practice to have in place to show extra levels of consent.  You can still be in compliance with GDPR and a single opt-in by having a tick box for consent or a sandwich page that does the same thing.

single opt-in vs double opt-in kate doster inbox besties podcast

The Downside of Double Opt-ins

When looking at single opt-in vs double opt-in, it’s easy to look at how active your subscribers are with the double opt-in system and wonder why you’d ever go with a single opt-in.  The problem with double opt-ins is that because there is the extra confirmation step before someone is actually on your list, you have a percentage of people who will never confirm.  The good news is that you’re not billed for them since you can’t email them anyway.

According to MailChimp, as many as 61% of people don’t confirm their email.  That’s a lot.  That means for 1000 people who sign up, you only end up with 400 people on your list.  Constant Contact has a slightly better outlook with 34-40% of people not confirming their emails.

So, if you’re using a double opt-in and you’re seeing that a lot of the people aren’t confirming, just know that it’s normal (unfortunately).  With those numbers in mind, if you’re going the double opt-in route, you want to make absolutely sure that your confirmation email is engaging and personable.  If you’re using the generic “click here to confirm” that is automatically generated by your email service provider, you honestly shouldn’t expect much.

What I like to do with a double opt-in is to make the ‘confirm’ button send people to the freebie they signed up for.  That means they just have one click to confirm and access the information instead of clicking to confirm and then another email that has the freebie inside.  You can set it up in your email service provider to automatically send your confirmed subscribers to the first day of your challenge or a PDF download or whatever else they signed up for instead of going back and forth and searching for what they want.

By putting forth a little extra effort and making your confirmation email fun & engaging, you’re going to drastically improve your confirmation percentage.

Single opt-in vs double opt-in: Recap

If your goal is to have a bigger list, faster growth and you don’t mind cleaning up your list more often, a single opt-in may be the right answer for you.  Plus, there’s the added benefit of having an Easy Yes Offer in place so you can recoup some of your expenses (like your email service provider).  A single opt-in is more life-proof because you can send a reminder the following day.

On the downside, you’re looking at lower open rates and lower click-through rates.  Not to mention the additional cost of paying for subscribers who put in the wrong email address or spambots who signed up. You’ll want to have a strong cleanup strategy and system in place.

If GDPR is a big concern for you and you want to have a more engaged list with higher open and click rates, then a double opt-in is probably what you’re looking for.  When people are willing to take the extra step to confirm their email, you know they are serious about the transformation that you’re promising them.  On the other hand, you’re going to lose a certain percentage of your potential subscribers, no matter how much time and effort you put into the confirmation email.

Just rip off the band-aid and pick one.  Honestly, it’s just a matter of what your goals are for your email list and reminder that you can always change your mind later on down the line.


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