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Which Is Better, Single Opt-In Or Double Opt-In?

Learn the Differences To Grow Your List

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Navigating the war of words surrounding opt-in methods is one of your first obstacles to creating a newsletter. 

According to double opt-in advocates, requesting clear confirmation before you add an address to a mailing list is more ethical and improves lead quality. Single opt-in advocates, on the other hand, argue that double opt-in is an unnecessary obstacle to growth and that’s inconvenient for both customers and marketers.

Both sides have valid points – so how are you supposed to choose?

In this article we’ll review the purpose, pros, and cons of each option so you feel prepared to make the best choice for your newsletter.

The Advantages of Single Opt-in vs Double Opt-in

Which Is Better, Single Opt-In Or Double Opt-In?

A single opt-in system adds someone to the list after they enter their email on a website, while double opt-in requires an additional layer of confirmation. Imagine signing up on a website and immediately receiving marketing materials from them: that’s a single opt-in. Under a double opt-in system, you’ll receive an email requesting permission and won’t receive any marketing materials by email until you expressly consent to it.

The key advantage of single opt-in is simplicity. When countless brands are competing for attention from busy consumers, adding extra roadblocks like confirmation does prevent interested people from entering your mailing list. This frictionless approach results in faster growth–to the tune of more than 20%.

According to the Best Practices in Email Marketing Handbook that MarketingSherpa released in 2009, even Cirque Du Soleil’s top-performing email marketing campaign only saw 80% of people confirm through double opt-in. With single opt-in, its marketing materials would have reached one-quarter more people. This is a best-case scenario for double opt-in, as well. Brands that are less high-profile than Cirque Du Soleil can realistically expect to lose considerably more than 20% of potential opt-ins.

What Is the Purpose of Double Opt-in?

Which Is Better, Single Opt-In Or Double Opt-In?

The core purpose of double opt-in is to ensure the quality of mailing lists and filter out low-quality leads. Adding an extra step, the double opt-in confirmation email keeps disinterested people and misspelled addresses off of mailing lists. It also stops “revenge spam,” the act of signing up for many newsletters with someone else’s email address to flood their inbox with unwanted marketing materials.

Advocates of double opt-in will look at the 20%+ faster growth figure from single-opt-in methods and argue that most of those addresses are liabilities. Eliminating all of those poor-quality email addresses enhances all five of the key metrics that experts use to measure the success of email campaigns: delivery, conversion, bounce, open, and click-through rates. Plus, it protects your sender's reputation and helps you avoid being blacklisted as a source of spam.

However, there are more graceful and less inconvenient ways to achieve most of the goals of double opt-in. For instance, double confirmation requires users to enter their email address twice on the same page in your website. This cuts down on misspelled email addresses without requiring double opt-in. While a single opt-in approach won’t reach the same level of quality assurance as double opt-in, it can come close and still generate more leads.

What Is A Good Opt-in Percentage?

Which Is Better, Single Opt-In Or Double Opt-In?

Is Double Opt-in Best Practice?

Double opt-in is one of the strongest ways to ensure your mailing list consists of high-quality leads. However, this alone doesn’t make it the best practice in all situations. When growing your mailing list is the priority, single opt-in is the best practice. That said, double opt-in can be the best practice when you’re operating in a country with stringent email marketing regulations.

What Countries Require Double Opt-in?

Which Is Better, Single Opt-In Or Double Opt-In?

Most countries don’t have strict rules on opt-in methods for email marketing. Germany is the only country that strictly requires double opt-in, but it’s not the only country where laws make it a good idea. Norway, Luxembourg, Greece, Canada, Austria, and Switzerland have less strict laws, such as Canada’s requirement for “implicit or explicit consent.”

Depending on the country, double opt-in might not be the only way to stay on the right side of the law. Double opt-in is the best way to achieve explicit consent, but many forms of implicit consent also work within time-sensitive periods. For instance, an inquiry into a company’s product or services is accepted as a sign of implicit consent for up to six months from the date of inquiry.

While double opt-in isn’t a strict requirement in all of these countries, the regulations still strengthen the argument for double opt-in. While a single opt-in approach will have to tailor its approach to local regulations, double opt-in ensures compliance with no more questions asked.

Should We Enable Double Opt-in?

If growing your mailing list isn’t the top priority, or if you’re marketing to customers in a country that requires double opt-in, then it’s a good idea to enable double opt-in. You’ll avoid regulatory trouble and exclude many types of low-quality leads from your list. In all other cases, single opt-in should be the better choice.

Why Single Opt-in Is Better Than Double Opt-in

Which Is Better, Single Opt-In Or Double Opt-In?

Double opt-in is an effective way to protect the quality of your mailing lists, but the extent to which it slows growth is a high price to pay. Using single opt-in with extra quality assurance measures will protect the quality of your mailing lists without sacrificing as many interested subscribers. However, double opt-in has legitimate use cases, and many email marketers around the world consider it to be the better option.

Ready to Grow? Opt-in to beehiiv

At beehiiv, we put the power in your hands by supporting both single opt-in and double opt-in. We consider single opt-in to be the better choice, but double opt-in is still one of many tools that are available to you when you partner with us. Work with beehiiv, and you can build a first-class newsletter tailored to your unique needs and goals.

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