You should always use double opt-in for your email newsletter registration form.
I learned that the hard way.
If you already know the difference between "Single Opt-In" and "Double Opt-In" you can skip the following section:
Single Opt-in vs. Double Opt-in.
Single Opt-in: this registration method means people come to your website, fill out your email newsletter registration form, and are instantly added to your email newsletter subscriber list. While it's very simple and sounds good in theory, it has a number of problems when used in the real world, which our story below will highlight.
Double Opt-in: this method starts the same way as Single opt-in. People come to your website, fill out your email newsletter registration form but they are not instantly added to your subscriber list. At that point, your website sends a confirmation email with a link they must click before they’re added to your list. The act of clicking the link confirms their email address and verifies the person who filled out your registration form truly is the same person who controls the email address.
Why I Switched to Double Opt-In
Here's what happened to me. Years ago, being excited and naive about sharing my art marketing thoughts (from my 16 years in the gallery business) with artists around the world, I started and email newsletter. Excited to get started quickly, I chose the simplest method possible. So I threw up a website with a registration form and anyone who signed up was instantly added to my subscriber list.
The list grew rapidly and life was good.
But one day, I noticed a lot of mis-spelled email addresses on the list such as "firstname.lastname@example.org" instead of "email@example.com". No problem, those email addresses simply bounced and dropped off the list after a bounce or two. But a bit later, I noticed our mail wasn't being delivered as reliably as it should be and realized the "bounce rate" was too high. Oops. Maybe I shouldn't have let mis-spelled email addresses get on our list after all. So I started being diligent about removing mis-spelled addresses.
But the bounce rate stayed too high. Then, I started noticing a lot of weird addresses that just didn't look right. Odd email addresses such as "firstname.lastname@example.org". Turns out, those were spam bots probing the signup form and those addresses were bouncing, as well. So I stayed on alert for those as well. And, the list did very well. The bounce rate was better. I wasn't totally happy with the open and engagement rates, but all-in-all, things were good. At this point, I had heard about double opt-in methods but hey, why make things harder for users, right?
Then one fateful day, our email delivery provider contacted me and they were not happy. It turns out, we had sent the email newsletter to a spam trap address. Let me tell you, you don't ever want to send to a spam trap address. I was on the phone with our delivery provider's senior engineer assuring him we only add people who voluntarily sign up for our address and we never add anyone who doesn't want to receive our newsletters. Then, the conversation went something like this:
Him: "This is very serious, we might have to shut down this account unless we can convince the spam trap company this was an honest mistake and you show serious steps to correct the problem?"
Me: "What should we do?"
Him: "Let me ask you something, is your signup form double opt-in?"
Him: Irritated silence.
Me: Rushing to add, "But we never add anyone, people must sign up themselves on our sign up form, and we even have a CAPTCHA to weed out bots".
Him: "How do you know the person who filled out the signup form is the person who controls the email address?"
Me: "I don't understand"
Him: "What if a competitor or jokester, spammer or whoever added that spam trap email address to your list? How would you even know the person who filled out the form actually controls that email address?"
Me: Crap, he's right! "I guess I wouldn't."
Him: "That's why you need to use double opt-in"
Needless to say, I cleaned up the list and switched to double opt-in immediately.
The Problems with Single opt-in
So here's a synopsis of the problems you can (and eventually will) run into if your list is single opt-in:
* anyone can add any email address, fake or real to your newsletter list
* anyone can add a spam trap email address to your newsletter list and potentially get you banned from sending
* mis-spelled email addresses stay on your list until they bounce, reducing your reputation and increasing your bounce-rate
* bot/spam email addresses end up on your list
Consequently this leads to:
* lower open rates
* higher bounce rates
* lower sender reputation
* lower engagement rates
* higher chance your newsletter ends up in someone's junk mail folder
* lower quality email list
The Benefits of Double Opt-in
All of this is fixed with double opt-in signup methods. Yes, it makes it a tad harder for people to sign up for your newsletter. But, in return, you know that every single person on your list is legitimate and actually wants to hear from you. With double opt-in, you build a real and valuable permission asset. Single opt-in methods can simply fool you into thinking you have an asset you don't really have.
If you use email newsletter marketing, I highly encourage you to enable double opt-in today. Don't wait until you get an angry call from your provider like I did.
Double Opt-in at FASO
We, at FASO, have offered via our ArtfulMail newsletter product as double opt-in for a long time. If you signed up for your FASO account after November of 2013, it's been enabled by default. If you signed up prior to November 2013, you may still be using single opt-in.
We will be automatically upgrading all FASO accounts to take advantage of double opt-in starting on February 11th, 2015. The rollout to upgrade everyone's account will take a few days. If you want to upgrade your account now, here is a link to an article that outlines the steps to do so.
FASO Founder, Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic
PS - We've found that email newsletter marketing is often the most effective step any artist can take to improve their marketing and sales. That's why we built an entire newsletter system for artists called ArtfulMail that is included with every FASO account.
Editor's Note: You can view Clint's original post here.
1 Response to Enhance Your Email Art Marketing with Double Opt-In
|Suzan Poisner |
|42 months ago|
I understand both the pros and cons of double opt-in.
I found the end of this article confusing, though.
You write: you will be "upgrading all FASO accounts to take advantage of double opt-in starting on February 11th."
Does "take advantage" mean that I will no longer have the option of using single opt-in if that's what I prefer? So everyone will be stuck with double opt in no matter what?
If that's what you mean, I wish you had just said so instead of the euphemism "take advantage."