Ah, double opt-in vs. single opt-in: the great debate between marketers. Which is the better of the two? Which will help you build a high-quality list of leads? Which one will skyrocket your business to the next level? If reading these questions makes your anxiety level rise, have no fear. We’re here to help.
Determining which opt-in method you’re going to use is a crucial part of crafting an email marketing campaign that yields the opens, click-throughs, and conversions you’re after. You need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each before selecting the right approach for your company and industry.
Below, we’ll show both sides of the double opt-in vs. single opt-in debate to help you make sense of the two and to decipher which is best suited for your brand.
What is single opt-in?
In the single opt-in method, a single action signs up a user for your email list. All your users need to do is input their email address in the relevant box to sign up to a company’s emails, no confirmation or follow-up action required.
Once their details have been entered, they’re instantly signed up and will start receiving all the marketing emails the company sends.
For example, if a user wants to sign up to Red Wing Shoes, they simply enter their email address into the box at the bottom of the website:
Then, they receive an email and no further action is required.
What is double opt-in?
In contrast, double opt-in (which is sometimes referred to as confirmed opt-in) adds another required action into the process before a subscriber actually receives your emails.
After putting their email address into the sign-up form on a website, they’ll receive an email, but instead of this email simply confirming their subscription, it’ll ask them to verify their address. This way, the subscriber has actively signed up to the newsletter and confirmed this is their correct email address.
For example, when a user signs up to PremiumBeat, they go through the same process as Red Wings Shoes’ customers and enter their email address into a box on the website.
However, their first email from PremiumBeat requests the user to confirm their email is correct:
Essentially, companies who use double opt-in insist their subscribers not only confirm they’ve provided the right email address but are 100% happy with receiving future emails from the company.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of single opt-in?
Single opt-in helps you grow your email list fast
It probably goes without saying that single opt-in wins hands down when it comes to which method is quicker. After all, it’s not hard to see that adding another layer of confirmation to your emails is going to reduce the number of subscribers you get.
Single opt-in pretty much guarantees a faster-growing email list and if you’re just starting out, this is a welcome relief. Building a list quickly should be a consideration when you’re trying to get your email marketing strategy rolling.
With single opt-in, you can get yourself in front of a far larger audience quickly so you can start bringing those important leads in and driving them through your sales funnel.
Single opt-in is a far simpler process
Understandably, by only requiring one action from your customers, single opt-in is a much easier option for them. And as we all know, ease and simplicity are key in today’s online world.
There’s no need for would-be subscribers to go back to their inbox to see if the confirmation email’s there, and they don’t have to remember to confirm their address.
Ultimately, even though a customer wants to sign up to your emails, not every customer will be happy about jumping through hoops to get there.
In fact, only about 80% of customers will go to the trouble of confirming their email address. Whether they forget to confirm, accidentally delete the email thinking it is the confirmation email, or it ends up in their spam folder, there are a number of potential hurdles involved in adding another step to your email opt-ins.
Single opt-in doesn’t do much for your privacy control
Nevertheless, there are some downsides to single opt-in, and not being seen as valuing a customer’s privacy is one of them.
Amid the ongoing changes of GDPR, customers are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to their privacy. So some consumers—though certainly not all of them—are likely to view single opt-in emails as lacking in privacy control.
Single opt-in exposes you to deliverability issues
While single opt-in does offer a quick fix for short-term database growth, there are some concerns on a long-term basis.
First, you’re at more risk of having your emails highlighted as spam.
Why? Because people may change their mind after signing up, simply mark your emails as spam rather than hitting “unsubscribe.” This is especially the case if your unsubscribe process isn’t straightforward or clear enough. Statistics show 43% of people will mark promotional emails they receive as spam.
Plus, single opt-in means you can end up with incorrect emails being added to your list or someone may enter someone else’s email address as a joke. This can mean more bounces, unsubscribes, and spam messages, hurting your deliverability and your sender reputation.
Not only are you potentially harming your company’s reputation but you could be costing yourself far more money in the long run, too, since many email marketing providers charge you based on the number of emails you’re sending and/or the number of people in your database.
So you’re going to be wasting valuable money sending emails to fake addresses or customers who are marking your emails as spam.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of double opt-in?
Double opt-in boasts better engagement and open rates
Quality over quantity is key when it comes to double opt-in.
As we’ve seen, by adding that extra confirmation level, you know for a fact that these customers are genuinely interested in signing up to your emails, and that this is definitely their email address.
Therefore, as you move forward with your email marketing campaigns, you’ll likely notice better open rates and more engagement from your customers.
You’ll also have peace of mind that you’re not making your company susceptible to some of the downsides of single opt-in, e.g. spam email addresses, people signing other people up to your newsletter, and so on. You’ll know that most of your leads are authentic.
Granted, your email list might not grow with as much speed as it would with single opt-in but your subscribers come with far greater value.
Double opt-in boasts lower unsubscribe rates and better deliverability
Because you know you’re delivering to people who want to hear from you, it goes without saying that you can expect a lower unsubscribe rate. Yes, it may take a little more effort to get people to join your mailing list, but once they do, they’re far more valuable as they’re more likely to convert and be loyal, recurring customers.
You’re also less likely to have your emails marked as spam.
And with nearly 50% of all emails sent per day being deemed spam, avoiding this potential pitfall is vital, especially when people are quick to flag emails as spam even if they technically aren’t.
Double opt-in is going to be a slower process and you will lose leads
Unfortunately, with all of the positives, there are still some downsides to double opt-in.
Growing your list with a double opt-in isn’t going to happen overnight, and you will lose leads in the process (those customers who fail to carry out the second sign-up action).
The legalities involved in double opt-in vs. single opt-in
We couldn’t finish this article without touching on the legalities involved in gathering people’s email addresses.
GDPR has raised the bar when it comes to getting a subscriber’s consent within the European Union. However, it doesn’t limit you to single or double opt-in options.
So long as you comply with the regulations of GDPR (i.e. not using pre-ticked boxes), you can still have single opt-in forms on your website. However, in certain countries, such as Germany, double opt-in is a safer bet when proving legal compliance.
Hopefully, you now have a clear opinion on single verse double opt-in methods and feel adequately informed on the debate.
Single opt-in is highly valuable if you’re just starting out or can’t afford to miss short-term leads. Double opt-in is immensely beneficial on a long-term basis and is particularly useful if you’re struggling with a lot of hard bounces. Your choice will depend on your company’s specific needs and goals.
Remember, building a quality email list is far more beneficial to you than building a big list. Having a large list can actually hurt your results if it consists of people who are inactive and unengaged with your brand. Regardless of which method you prefer for your company, a highly-engaged email list is one of the most powerful tools you can use in your digital marketing efforts.