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  • Single opt-in or double opt-in? A comparison of two methods
Andrea Serventi
10 June 2016
Reading time: 6 min

Single opt-in or double opt-in? A comparison of two methods

Registration is a preliminary requirement for any email marketing activities, it is the crossroads through which new communication strategies take shape and email campaigns find their target audience.

The registration form is the gateway, the email address is the key. Brands are divided by a dilemma when it comes to the choice of method: single opt-in or double opt-in, the two different ways to allow new contacts to access to the flow of communications contained in a newsletter. In this blog post we’ll take you through the benefits of both, in the short and the long term, in a head to head comparison that will shed light on a key passage of email marketing, the threshold of all future activities.

  • Single opt-in is the registration method that involves one confirmation click, once the email address and other requested information has been entered in the form.
  • Double opt-in (also called confirmed opt-in) provides an extra step to confirm the registration. Once the form is completed and the request submitted, new contacts must click on the confirmation email automatically sent to them. It is a method to make sure the email address entered is valid and actually belongs to the user.
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Reasons for the single opt-in

The single opt-in consists of a simple and straightforward registration process, both for the recipient and for the brand. As it doesn’t defer the confirmation elsewhere (i.e. to the recipient’s inbox) at a later time, the single opt-in is the most immediate way to increase the database. It poses fewer barriers to confirming the registration, meaning a greater number of successful registrations.

The numbers speak for themselves: 20% of users faced with the double opt-in do not confirm their registration. This is a loss that some brands do not want and cannot afford. By removing a step, companies benefit from a wider audience of recipients for communicating news, offers and promotions. Here are the benefits of the single opt-in in detail:

1. Lower dropout rates

As it does not involve any additional steps, the single opt-in allows for registration in just one operation, minimising the number of dropouts halfway through the process. The only obstacle may lie in the form: asking the the recipient for too much information can discourage them from filling it out. Because of this, we always recommend only including the essential fields in the form (name, surname and email address), and referring further contact to the profile management centre in terms of preferences and sending frequencies.

2. More leads, more conversions

In the short-term, contact lists obtained with the single opt-in method always generate a greater number of openingsclicks and conversions compared to the lists obtained with the double opt-in. The reason is simple: the former can count on a larger pool of recipients, since they also collect the 20% of potential contacts that do not confirm subscription when faced with the double opt-in.

3. Addresses are verified (differently)

Collecting contacts with the single opt-in does not mean supplying the database with unverified email addresses. By eluding the double opt-in but integrating some tools, it is possible achieve the same goal. For example, double entry confirmation requires the new contact to enter the email address twice in two different fields of the form. BriteVerify or Fresh Address are used to verify the correctness of the format, domain and account of the email addresses entered. Finally, reengagement emails re-instate or permanently remove recipients who complete registration but do not interact with the emails (leaving the opening and click immaculate), providing a best practice for maintaining clean lists and retaining the single opt-in.

Reasons for the double opt-in

While the single opt-in pays off immediately, the double opt-in has wider horizons, and reveals its benefits over the long term. If your goal is to build a database with a high involvement rate, the choice must be to hold out for double opt-in.

People often think that email marketing is just about sheer quantity, to be achieved in the shortest possible time. Nothing could be more wrong. A database collected hastily by swallowing up unverified email addresses that are then flooded with communications will always have a short lifespan. Email marketing, by contrast, is a chain of activities aimed at cultivate the relationship with the recipients over time. The key word is engagement, which should be pursued from the moment of registration, attracting contacts who are well disposed towards the communications that they will subsequently receive. This is the purpose served by the double opt-in filter.

1. Best engagement and purchase likelihood

Double opt-in lists are less extensive than single opt-in equivalents, but they contain a higher conversion potential. Everyone who agrees to receiving your communications twice will demonstrate more interest in future campaigns and an increased likelihood of purchase and loyalty. This high level of involvement is reflected in the opening rates and clicks, which are reflected in turn by a greater conversion rate. A simple truth: a winning campaign just involves opening and clicking on emails.

2.   Less bounce, better deliverability

Through verifying the email addresses, the double opt-in allows you to minimise the bounce rate, which has a negative impact on many brands’ reputations and causes problems with deliverability. Having a clean list of contacts allows you to maintain high standards of deliverability, which translate to higher delivery rates. Returning upstream, the double opt-in allows you to feed the database with valid addresses and keep lists clean from the start, without having to struggle later on in an attempt to recover a lost reputation.

3.   Fewer spam reports

Like bounces, spam complaints affect reputations. The benefits of the double opt-in are also felt here. Not many recipients who make a double confirmation for your communications will then report your email as spam. Furthermore, by tracking and recording each detail of the registration (IP address confirmation, time and date), the double opt-in provides evidence (in case there is ever a need) of the recipient’s will, showing that there is no trace of spam or abuse in your email marketing activities.

double opt in_mailup

At MailUp always we have viewed the double opt-in as the best practice for collecting verified email addresses, with the full consent and interest of the recipient. Email marketing is a great machine, set in motion by distinct activities that communicate with each other. The primary impulse that sets in motion the machine in action is the recipient’s will to receive your communications. The double opt-in serves this purpose: verifying the email address and request with one click gives further confirmation of that will. In our view, email marketing starts from here.

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Andrea Serventi

I was born in 1986 in Milan, where I graduated in Modern Literature and started writing for online newspapers, magazines and TV news programs. Having now converted to marketing and the digital world, I am a Content Editor at MailUp: I read, listen, collect ideas, and write about what email marketing is and how to use it strategically.

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