Single opt in vs. double opt in – which is best?

There's been an argument that's been raging since the dawn of email marketing; single opt in versus double opt in - which one is best?

The people on the Single Opt in side (SO), say that they want to get the most amount of people possible on their list, so why add a friction point by forcing your contacts to confirm to join your list?

The Double Opt in (DO) side of the argument is, "Well, if someone isn't going to bother to click a link in an email to confirm...then they surely won't take the time to pull out their wallet and pay you some day".

The SOs come back saying, "But think about how often those confirmation emails aren't ever delivered! You have potential buyers who never even have the chance to spend money because they didn't receive the confirmation email!"

Not to be outdone....the DOs come right back saying that having a double opt in "...is more likely to increase the overall quality of your list and improve the deliverability of your emails...so that those confirmation emails would be far more likely to be delivered anyway!"

So what side are you on and which one is best?

Is it possible that they both might be right....or wrong?

Enter the 'single-double' opt in

Rarely are things black or white these days...so as you might've guessed, there is a third alternative to the whole single vs. double opt in approach.

I first heard about it from Mr. Chris Davis - a man wise in the arts of email automation.  He called this hybrid approach the "Single Double".

So what is it (besides a way you might order your coffee)?

It starts out much the same as a single opt in (because it won't trigger a confirmation email) but there is a consequence if the email delivering the free resource isn't opened or clicked.

After a day wait, a reminder email is sent that says, "Hey! Did you still want this?"

...and if that email is also ignored, the contact is marked for deletion and eventually removed (Chris generally waits 30 days).

In this way, Chris ensures that he has a highly engaged list and clears out the 'dead wood' early and often. 

He goes on to say:

"I've never seen this sequence not create an open rate of over 30% for campaigns sent to people that use this, ever." ~ Chris L. Davis

A 30% open rate might not sound like much, but it easily beats the industry averages listed here. I'll gladly take 'better than average' any day of the week.

Hmm, could it be true? An alternative to the age-old struggle of single vs. double opt in with the potential advantages of both?

Thumbs down to the 'single-double'?

Well, it's probably too early to crown the new challenger as the winning solution.

I say this because when I share the above information about the "Single-Double" opt in a recent email, Brad (you might remember him from this automation case study), told me his lead magnet delivery emails tend to get 50-60% open rate...and he's still not satisfied with that.

So depending on your industry, the relationship with your audience and the overall appeal of your lead magnet or opt in bribe...you might feel like this guy about a 30 percent open rate.

If that's the case...fine...I know when I'm beat.

Stick with your single opt in. Don't mess with your double opt in...

But at the very least, don't make these 'bone-head' moves that can be costing you quality subscribers.

Single opt in mistake

Never deliver a lead magnet by redirecting to a thank you page immediately after the opt in form is submitted.

This is a damn fine way to attract boatloads of absolutely fake email addresses into your account that will only hurt your engagement statistics and never result in anything remotely resembling a sale.

Always deliver the lead magnet by a welcome email, this ensures that if the email is indeed fake...the faker will never receive it.  

Hopefully, this prompts them to fill out the form again with a legit email...and if not, well they were probably never worth your time and attention in the first place.

Not only that, it's a great first interaction with your email service provider, an open and a click in the very first email. The ESPs track and measure these stats to determine whether you're above board or a spammer...and you better believe that your overall email deliverability may be at stake.

And if you clean out your list every 30 days or so, you should hopefully get rid of the bulk of those dead wood contacts before they can do too much damage to your account.

There's only one exception I can think of where you might want to send a lead magnet to a fake email address; if it is so convincingly amazing...and rife with links to your paid products (that you can track) that you are happy to send it to as many prospects as possible because it actually generates conversions.

If that's the case, carry on...you get a pass.

Double opt in mistake

So you like your double optin just fine eh?  I commend you, but I also implore you to modify the wording on your confirmation message.

The default wording on any confirmation message I've ever seen (certainly those from Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign) is absolutely terrible.

... and there is one word in particular that you should avoid at all costs that is rife on double optin pages...

"Subscription", "Subcriber" etc.

True story time...

Someone once purchased an online product from me and saw a double optin confirmation message from my email provider when they were added onto my "buyer's list"...

...they promptly responded by asking for a refund...

... because they thought they were duped into a "subscription" product that would charge them each month into eternity and beyond.

I had to reassure them and talk them down from the ledge.

After that I understood... subscription is about as fun as the word "mortgage" for a lot of people online.


Still don't believe me???  Feast your eyes on this hot mess...

That email is about as much fun as a root canal without anesthetic.

"Subscription" (or a variant) is used 5 times...6 if you include the subject line.

It doesn't have to be that way...in fact, check out this optin confirmation email I luckily received this week (a very happy coincidence to say the least):
I gotta hand it to the folks at Salesflare...can't remember the last time I saw a "fun" confirmation message.  

They get a pass for creativity...even though they still made the sin of using the word "subscription" a few times.

So that's a wrap.  

Whether you use a single, double or 'single-double' opt in approach...at least be smart about it.

Take a few extra minutes to optimize. It can pay off big time down the road with more engaged contacts and better overall email deliverability via a highly regarded account with your ESP.
>