by Anna Wybieralska Apr 29, 2019

Unless you’re pretty well up on the latest email optimization strategies, the double opt-in email list may be somewhat of a ‘black hole’ to you.

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But, eCommerce entrepreneurs and marketers are increasingly exploring that black hole. List building is one of the best ways to optimize your online sales process - and the double opt-in conversion funnel is one way to make your sales system work even better. The common understanding is that for every $1 spent on email marketing, the ROI is $36. In some cases, it’s much higher - and that’s what you should be aiming for. Double opt-in can help you get there, and your competition may not be using them yet. Below you’ll find out what they are, why you should be using them, and when they work best…

What’s the standard opt-in?

If you’re not familiar with single opt-in, you have some catching up to do! In the most basic sense, it looks something like this:

This is an example of a very basic, rather ‘old hat’ single opt-in. Thankfully, they’ve moved on and developed into more engaging forms that sometimes even offer incentives (like discounts) to subscribe. The best ones also include a disclaimer message to assure privacy to the user. With a single opt-in strategy, this happens:

  • A pop-up box asks the user to enter their email address in return for a download/free resource/subscription to a newsletter, etc.
  • Once they enter their email address (and name, if requested), they are instantly added to your mailing list.
  • They receive a ‘thank you’ confirmation email saying that they’ve been added to the list and detailing what to expect next.

How does the double opt-in email differ from this?

The basic difference is that the double opt-in email asks users to confirm their email address again. So you’re effectively asking for the same information twice.

After filling in their details in the opt-in form, a confirmation email is sent to the address that the person input into the form asking the recipient to confirm it. It’s important that the user expects to receive this email - otherwise, it could end up in the junk folder. The process needs to be clearly explained with an ‘Almost finished…’ or “Nearly there…’ page:

The confirmation email contains a link to the confirmation page and the recipient clicks the link to confirm their address.

Only then are they added to the list. And you let them know with a “thank you” message:

email confirmed double opt-in

It’s good to find and use influencers or the brand face in these two-step page designs. People respond well to human faces on pages with CTAs. As you can see, the ‘thank you’ email can be used not only to confirm that an email address has been added - it’s also a good idea is to ask the recipient to ‘whitelist’ your email address so you don’t end up in the spam folder as well.

When do you use the double-opt-in?

It may seem a little counterintuitive to give a potential customer extra work to do to connect with you. After all, we live in a world where convenience is king. Frictionless processes are the name of the game. Isn’t requesting email confirmation just adding a layer of friction?

Yes - perhaps! But the benefits outweigh the drawbacks and most eCommerce providers using them are proving their worth with stellar results.

In short, the double opt-in can improve open rates, conversions, reputations, and list quality.

Marketers increasingly see double opt-ins as more effective than the single versions because:

  • You get fewer fake email addresses on your list;
  • Fewer unopened emails result - higher open rates mean your reputation with your email marketing software provider grows;
  • The risk of spam complaints is lowered;
  • Less money is wasted on sending emails to uninterested parties every month;
  • They improve the lead quality and the per-lead value of your list;
  • They can create greater “buy-in” and engagement because users confirm their address and have to do this extra “work” to get added;
  • If you’re offering content in exchange for email addresses, fewer people abuse the system by using fake email addresses to access the content;
  • Click through rates (conversion rates) should improve due to greater engagement with your business.

As you can see, the pros are many!

Spambots can really take advantage of a single opt-in list, wreaking havoc overnight with your list and creating unnecessary headaches for you and your team. Adding one simple step makes a lot of sense. If you want a ‘clean’ list of quality prospects who are actively investing time and interest in communicating with you, the double opt-in helps you make it happen.

A/B testing and other best practices with double opt-ins

The same rules apply to double opt-ins as to practically everything in email marketing:

  • Focus on optimizing each step
  • Track results with Google Analytics
  • A/B test double and single opt-in to see which perform best

Double opt-in email marketing may seem quite straightforward but a surprising number of things can go wrong. There are more moving parts than you probably imagine, so invest some time into optimizing the steps and there’s less chance that these parts will malfunction.

Think of your double opt-in email lists for sale funnel where you’re taking people on a sales journey step by step. Optimize each of the following:

  • opt-in form submission
  • ‘Nearly there’ or ‘Almost finished’ page
  • Confirmation email
  • Thank you page

And don’t forget to give users the options to unsubscribe - this still applies even though they’ve opted in twice. Once you’re up and running, it’s time to test. As well as testing single versus double opt-ins, test whether you get better results asking for email address only or name/email address. In general, gathering names is preferable as it provides more information to you and demonstrates more user intent to buy because they’ve agreed to provide extra personal detail to you. Compare the cost of the list per month from your email service provider against the profit it generates for you. This dollar value (ROI) is the most important indicator of success, though open rates and click-through rates also provide good info on engagement.

To double up or not to double up?

I’d be really surprised if you don’t end up with a cleaner, more engaged, hungrier list of prospective customers if you run fully optimized double opt-in email marketing campaigns. Some marketers even believe that the use of single opt-ins may be outlawed in the near future as the authorities clamp down on spam. Stay clear of the spam folder with Voila Norbert’s email verifying tool. These are all pretty good reasons to start experimenting with double opt-ins right now. Fine-tune your strategy and the results will come. If you want to get started, most good email marketing solutions offer the double opt-in option now. And here’s a useful step-by-step guide on how to create an opt-in email list for eCommerce businesses.

About the author

Giles Thomas is the CEO of Shopify Growth Agency Whole Design Studios. Writer at AcquireConvert and Risepro and a member of the Google Expert Program.

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