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Optimise your email marketing with double optin

16 Apr 2010

Why should you be using double optin for your email marketing communications?

When people optin, what they have done is give you a valuable piece of information. You’ll want the optin process to be first stage in a long a fruitful relationship; you can ensure this by implementing double optin. 

What is double optin?

Confirmed Optin (COI) is the state that all of your email address should be in before you market to them. If you collect data through a web sign-up form, double optin is the way you confirm someone's optin; someone enters in their email address, hits go, and an automated email is sent to that address with a link to click to confirm. The recipient then goes to their inbox and clicks the link to complete the process.

Why is it good?

Getting confirmation of data we capture is very important, as it’s very easy for other people (or bots) to enter in email addresses (other than their own) leaving you to unintentionally spam people. By sending the submitted address a confirmation email it means that, in order to proceed, that person must own that email address in order to go to their inbox and click that confirmation link.

If they don't own that address, they will not be able to click it and the victim will get the double-optin email and not click it, thus being protected from emails they have not asked for.

This also protects you from being marked as spam by people who have not signed up.

How do I optimise my optin and why should I?

When someone completes your email marketing sign-up form, you can direct them to a landing page or thank you page. This page normally says "Thanks for signing up" and often has links to the home page or redirects to the home page after 30 seconds or so. Some less educated people will make the home page the thank you page - not a good idea.

At the very least, tell them you've sent them an email that they need to click.

To optimise this process, add some more content on the ‘thank you’ page, in order to continue the conversation and build that rapport. They have just given you a very valuable piece of information and their personal email address after all. This is the first step in a long a fruitful relationship you both want to have.

Your guide to the double optin process:

1.    Tell them what's going to happen, and what to do next.

2.    Tell them you have just sent them an email with a link to click to confirm they own that email address.   

It will reassure them that you take the security of their data very seriously.

3.    Tell them the email address it will be coming from and ask them to add it to their address book and/or safelist.

Not only will they then know what to search for in a busy inbox but also you will be safe listed before you've even marketed to them.

4.    Make sure the name you send from name is your brand name and not 'no reply'

There's nothing worse than to start the email relationship with an approach of the "one way brick wall of no-reply". You should be open and responsive and welcome interaction from any angle.  Also when someone goes looking for your email, which they will, they will be looking for your brand name, make it easy!

5.    Provide links to the popular on-line inboxes

If someone has got to then go to their inbox to check for your double optin email and they've got an address with an online inbox, why not make it easy for them by providing links to the popular one ones like, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL etc.  If you want to be really flashy you can figure out, from the email address they submit, if it is one of the popular ones and only provide a link for that.

Why isn’t everyone using double optin?

A few people I have spoken to wouldn't implement double optin, simply because they saw it as a barrier to entry and don’t think as many people would complete the optin process. At least one of those brands had a very hard time, when their deliverability vanished due to a high complaint rate.
This happened as they had emailed a single opt-in list, collected though an on-line software trial.

While the brand had maximised the number of people who could sign-up, many had entered other people's addresses (in order to get the free software but not give their own details) and when the brand then marketed to that list, many of the recipients had not asked for that email, so hit the spam button.

This destroyed their reputation with the ISPs in one day and for the next two weeks no-one got an email from them because the sender's reputation was so bad their emails were rejected on entry by the ISP.

Double optin for B2B

For B2B it's less risky, because you are unlikely to get that many email addresses per domain, so when you do market to the unconfirmed list you will not hammer one domain with unwanted email. However, business domains are far less likely to let you know if you've been blocked and you'll only see a drop in your open rate. So while it is less likely to get blocked, it is also less likely that you will know if it happens. For B2C if you get people marking your emails as spam in hotmail en-mass, for example, you can wave your hotmail recipients good-bye.

It’s a lot harder to recover from a poor reputation that it is to get one in the first place.

The reason for double optin is that the people, who are really interested and will be valuable to you, will make that small effort to support your respect and care for their personal information and respect you back in turn for your efforts.

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