Email Marketing 101: Single Opt-In or Double Opt-In?

There’s an old saying email marketers love to espouse and that is “The money is in the list”. And to be honest, it really is true. Having a responsive email list is one of the most profitable things you can have when it comes to internet marketing.

A recent study showed that on average for every $1 spent on email marketing you’ll earn $40 in return, so in terms of ROI it’s about the best thing out there.

So now that you know how important cultivating an email list is, should you accumulate subscribers via single opt-in or double opt-in?

Single Opt-In vs Double Opt-In

First things first, if you don’t know the difference between single opt-in and double opt-in, it’s basically the process in which a new subscriber is added to your email list.

In a single opt-in, the subscriber only has to enter his email once and he’s on your list. For a double opt-in the subscriber not only has to enter his email to subscribe to your list, but also has to take the extra step to confirm their email as well, usually via clicking a button/link in a welcome email you send to confirm their subscription.

So Which Is Better?

When it comes to asking marketers across all industries which is better, the split is actually pretty close to 50/50. I think a recent survey showed 52% favored single opt-in vs 48% for double opt-in. So when it comes to which is better, the jury is out.

Supporters of single opt-in say that it’s the best because it allows you to grow your list the fastest, while double opt-in supporters say that extra step creates a higher quality and more responsive email list.

Another reason people say double opt-ins are better is because it makes sure that the correct email address is used. It’s no secret that people will use fake email addresses or mistype their emails when subscribing to your list, and this can create problems when it comes to delivering your emails.

It’s Single Opt-In For Me

For me I think single opt-in is the way to go. It’s the fastest way to grow your list, and as long as you are regularly cleaning your email list (ie deleting unresponsive emails) you’ll get the benefits of both worlds.

In my experience you lose about 30-40% of subscribers if you use double opt-in. For whatever reason when you require someone to confirm their email to subscribe to your list, a good chunk of them just won’t do it.

So for example if 1000 people attempt to subscribe to your email list, out of that only maybe 6-700 will actually take the next step and confirm their emails. So right off the bat you’re losing 3-400 emails by choosing a double opt-in strategy.

I also don’t buy the “well double opt-in lists have more engaged users” theory. I don’t necessarily believe just because someone confirms their email they are any more valuable than someone who doesn’t. For me personally I double opt-in to just about everything I subscribe to, it doesn’t mean I buy anything from these places, it’s more of just a habit.

Also when you do single opt-in, you still have all those good “double opt-in” emails, but you also have all those single opt-in emails at well. And just because someone doesn’t confirm their email doesn’t mean they are any less likely to buy something from you.

The only issue I see you possibly running into by choosing to do a single opt-in email list is that if your list grows very large it can become very expensive. Most email platforms charge you by how many subscribers you have and/or how many emails you send. So if you have a large list of unresponsive subscribers, it could cost you a lot of money every month.

However again this problem can be avoided if you’re regularly deleting unresponsive emails from your list which I recommend you do at least once a month. There’s no point in sending emails to people that never open them as it hurts your inbox rate, so you need to do your best to clean your list regularly.

Now again the above is only my opinion, and if you do choose to go the double opt-in route there’s nothing wrong with that. Just realize it will take longer to grow your list, and you’re potentially throwing away 30-40% happy subscribers.

Again it’s all about personal preference, but if you want my recommendation, I think you’ll be better off with single opt-in with a vigorous “cleaning schedule” for your email marketing strategy.

Richard Yoshimura

Entrepreneur. SEO Consultant. Marketing Enthusiast. I'm here to help you build better websites that make you more money.

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