Double Opt In vs. Single Opt In: Which is Better for Building Your List?

iStock_000001831388XSmallOne of the reasons we do surveys is to try and figure out what’s important to our customers – so we can do more of the good stuff, and less of the stuff that irritates them.  In this months guest post from Patti Renner, That Landing Page Lady, Patti shares some recent findings on how customers like to receive information.  There’s been a lot of discussion about whether it’s better to use a single opt-in (where the customer simply enters their e-mail) or double opt-in, where the customer enters their e-mail, wait for a confirming e-mail and then authorizes you to send them more information.  Read on – the results will surprise you.

You have a nice website… a beautifully crafted landing page… a tempting free white paper report… and you’re ready for people to start handing over their email addresses so you can start marketing directly to them.

Hey, it’s working! People are signing up. Your list is growing….But how good a list is it?

Traditional online marketing often focuses on identifying a specific audience, then building a brand-based relationship with those people. One way to do this is by developing a “list,” which is a group of names and emails of people who have expressed an interest in what you have to offer.

When online marketing types say “The Money is in the List,” they’re really saying that it’s easier and more cost-effective to market and sell to the people who have requested information from you — usually with better results. Subscribing to your list (giving you their email information) is called the “opt-in.”

“Single opt in” means people simply signed up. One way or another, they gave you their email address and you have them on a list, ready to market to them.

“Double opt in” means that the people who gave you their email address received a confirmation email from you, asking them to confirm their email and request for information from you. It’s one more hoop for people to have to jump through, yet many online marketers seem attached to this concept.

Your list continues to grow. Like most conscientious marketing people, as you get into your campaign, you also start tracking the subscriber statistics from your contact-management service.

When you look at the numbers, you see that you have a nice click-through rate from your landing page where people sign up. But when you look at the same-day numbers of subscriptions, you notice you’re losing people when they’re asked to confirm their subscriptions via email. What the heck is going on here?!?

Can you afford to lose these people? Is there something you should be doing to keep them?

Confused? You’re not alone. The confirmation process — single opt in versus double opt in — is a constant source of debate.

After all, if the money is in the list, then does that mean you could be losing money (or future customers) simple because your prospects are not finishing the last step of the subscription process? On the other hand, how good a prospect are they if they don’t take five seconds to click through to finish the process!

All of this begs the question: Which is better… a bigger list (single opt in) or better list (double opt in)?

Which is right for you?

If your list is specifically for direct response marketing — asking people to take some sort of action at your suggestion — then the double opt in is the way to go. A better quality list is worth the wait.

Don’t take my word for it. Recently Daniel Levis in “The Total Package”  put single opt in versus double opt in to the test. Everyone seems to push the confirmation step as the best way to go, but he wanted real data to actually support the myth.

He found that of the 2,624 who signed on using a single opt in method, 0% converted into real customers (read: bought something) in a later mailing. Zero… nada… zilch.

That, compared to the 1,921 who took the time to double opt in. From that tighter list, he saw 41% more people who opened the later email… 46% more clicked through… and he got $773 in sales. $773 in sales from a smaller list of double opt ins — versus zero in sales from a larger list built by single opt ins.

Naturally, you get better results marketing to a better list. When you build that list online, it pays to go through that last golden hoop of double opt in confirmation.

Just a simple auto-responder email helps stack the deck in your favor, to weed out the less interested so you can focus on the people who actually want what you’ve got… to grow your online business better.

About the Author: Patti Kuhar Renner is known for her no-nonsense approach for effective marketing messages. A direct response copywriter, she specializes in helping small business perform better online.