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single or double opt-in

Single or Double Opt-In?

There are a lot of decisions you have to make when you start an email list. Which email management system? What kind of content will you send? How will you find subscribers? 

There’s also a ton of lingo to get used to. Single or double opt-in. Segmentation. GDPR. Click-through rates. 🤯

Let me make one decision easy for you: Double opt-ins are the way to go! 

What is a double opt-in? 

The terms double and single opt-in refer to the steps a new subscriber must take to join your email list. 

With a single opt-in, once a new subscriber fills out a form, they are added to your email list right away. 

Double opt-in means your new subscriber will have to confirm their interest in joining your list by clicking a link in the first email they receive from you. 

But wait, isn’t it easier to just sign up once and be done? Won’t I lose some subscribers with the extra step? 

It’s true, there are some advantages to going with a single opt-in. In my experience, though, it’s far worth it in the long term to go with a double opt-in. 

5 reasons to use a double opt-in

  1. You’re building a more engaged list. When a person has to click to confirm their subscription, they are saying yes a second time to joining your list. This is an indication that they really want to hear from you, which means they’re more likely to open your emails. A more engaged list = better for business!
  2. It weeds out the spammers and bots. You know all those captcha “I’m not a robot” buttons you have to click? That’s to keep the bots away. Having a double opt-in is an extra layer to guarantee there’s a real person behind the subscription request. 
  3. Your content is less likely to get marked as spam. When a new subscriber has taken the extra step to confirm their subscription, they are less likely to send you to the dreaded spam folder. Being marked as spam too many times is a BIG problem – it can signal mail services to send most of your emails to the junk folder. 
  4. You get accurate email addresses. With single opt-in, it’s easy for a person to mistype their email address. That means you’re stuck with a dead email on your list, and the person who was interested in your content never gets it delivered! Because many email services charge you per subscriber, this can be a really costly mistake to make! Double opt-in is a way to confirm you have real, active email addresses on your list. 
  5. You know your list is GDPR compliant. Say what?! GDPR refers to a new privacy regulation that went into effect in the European Union in 2018. In a nutshell, it requires marketers to obtain consent before emailing consumers. Violations can result in steep fines. A double opt-in, while not explicitly required by the law, makes certain your subscribers consent to receive your emails. 

Why would someone choose a single opt-in? 

There are still people who choose single opt-in, mainly from a convenience perspective. Single opt-ins add people directly to your list, with no extra steps. You’re less likely to have subscribers stuck in limbo when they miss or fail to click the link in the confirmation email. 

If big numbers are your main goal, I suppose single opt-ins may be the way to go. But I strongly recommend not focusing on the numbers. A small, engaged list is SO MUCH better than a massive, cold list. 

Why? Well, if you have a list of 20,000 subscribers, but an open rate of 5%…that’s only 1,000 people opening your emails. 

If you have 5,000 subscribers with an open rate of 25%… your emails are seen by 1,250. And chances are very high that those people are eager to read your content and purchase your offers. 

For a high-quality email list, go with the double opt-in

My philosophy is simple: I’d rather have a small list with highly engaged subscribers than a huge list that lacks engagement. 

Email marketing isn’t a numbers game to me. It’s all about the relationships I can nurture and the value I can provide my subscribers. 

Even if I lose a handful of people on the extra confirmation step, it’s worth it to know that my subscribers truly want to be there. 

What are your thoughts? If you already have an email list, do you have single or double opt-in? 


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