Email marketers have shied away from the idea of confirmed opt-in, also known as double opt-in, for a long time now. Given the evolution of email and its current entrenched state in our daily lives, it’s time to take another closer look at this topic.
Confirmed opt-in means the subscriber provides you an email address, then you trigger a confirmation email which they must click to be fully opted-in. This can be great at eliminating false accounts, typos, eventual spam complaints, and generally creates a much stronger customer experience for your email program. There is no denying this as the ultimate standard for producing the most valuable subscribers for any brand.
Senders with a confirmed opt-in program do not encounter blocking or deliverability issues due to list quality. Senders with an explicit opt-in such as an unchecked box are generally in good shape as well, but may still see an occasional bulking or blocking issue. The frequency of deliverability issues goes up significantly from there, about 6 times more. That’s a 600% increase in likelihood of deliverability issues for those using only pre-checked boxes, or simply relying on Terms & Conditions fine print. There is a clear correlation between having an explicit opt-in permission policy and the deliverability success of an email program.
Having an email account has become nearly as common as having a name, address, and date of birth. People are exceedingly savvy with how they use email. More importantly, people know exactly what messages they do and don’t want to see. They aren’t shy about deleting messages without reading them, or marking unwanted email as Spam — whether it’s from a legitimate brand or not. An individual’s mailbox is a crowded field with lots of messages competing for attention. Marketers can either reserve their spot with confirmed opt-in, or roll the deliverability dice with each send.
People are also more familiar today with email marketing as an industry. There are multiple ESPs advertising daily on TV, radio, and of course everywhere online. Email tools with list management capabilities for small businesses and organizations are everywhere, and more of them are requiring confirmed opt-in as a protection against spamming and abuse. This trend of confirmed opt-in programs by smaller mailers is resetting subscriber expectations about all marketers.
Imagine a subscriber who receives messages from a big brand retailer. They made a single purchase, but did not notice the pre-checked box during the online checkout process. Now imagine that same individual comes across a custom apparel start-up, and intentionally signs up for their confirmed opt-in email program. The bar has been raised instantly. The big retail brand now has a negative perception as a “spammer” while the new brand is clear, open, and respectful of the individual’s preferences. At a time when privacy and security are top of mind for everyone online, and viral social media rants are way too common, lack of a clear and explicit opt-in is a big gamble for any brand.
With the market forces and trends we noted earlier, along with some new research data, confirmed opt-in is no longer the “list-killer” that it was once portrayed to be. When done properly, confirmed opt-in programs can see great response rates and provide a safer, smarter approach to growing your list. We looked across almost 95 million confirmation type messages sent over the past 30 days. This was across the industry from 15 different well known email marketing platforms, as well as a number of large brands with in-house solutions. We noted inbox placement for these messages at 94% and average unique read (open) rate of 31% across the major ISPs like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com, and AOL. Looking at just the top 10% of marketers on this list, those who do this really well, we noted unique read rates between 50-60% and up as high as 86% for some.
Combine these compelling metrics with the fact that a permission message does not have to be one-and-done. You can send a series of well crafted messages to show your value to the subscriber and drive them to confirm the opt-in. Now there should be less worry about list growth and a few hit-or-miss conversions in the short-term.
Focus more around long-term strategy for your email program where you will see not just better deliverability, but also increased subscriber engagement, brand loyalty, repeat customers, and greater overall lifetime value from each subscriber. The Email Deliverability Guide for Modern Marketers will guide you through the steps necessary to meet your long-term goals. Download it now!