Opt-in or Double Opt-in: What’s The Better Choice?

opt-in and double opt-inThe most important element of creating effective email marketing campaigns derives from your subscribers list.
Its size is certainly a contributing factor to your campaign’s chances of success. During the past years, a number of practices, often illegal, such as “email harvesting”, were born on purpose to collect as many addresses as possible.
These days, thanks to legal measures brought into effect across the world in view of removing the incentives associated with these illegal practices, attention is now focused on the lists’ quality level. Permission and respect of privacy have become strategic keywords for all businesses seeking to employ email marketing in a legal manner. No email marketing campaign can expect to succeed without maintaining respect of these key “pillars”. It should not be forgotten that in the United States, the CAN-SPAM law, which came into effect in 2003, among other things prohibits the use of harvesting methods to collect email addresses and demands that certain elements should be included in all commercial emails: unsubscribe link, physical address, clear subject, etc. As far as Europe is concerned, businesses must refer to the EU Opt-In Directive, which came into effect in 2002 and establishes certain directives, which member countries are required to follow.

But what are the legal methods of acquiring email addresses? And which is the best?

There are currently two such methods:
Single opt-in and double opt-in.

Single opt-in
This is the simplest method. For example, users subscribe to your newsletter with a single click,  after filling out a form on your site.

Double opt-in
This is currently the most widely used method. It requires secondary confirmation.
After subscribing via the on-site form, users receive an email asking them to confirm that they wish to subscribe. The confirmation request is generally formulated as follows: You have just signed up to receive our newsletter. Please click here to confirm you that this is correct.” Only after clicking on the link  users will have subscribed to your newsletter.

Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.
If you go for the double opt-in option, you can be sure that your list is clean, with no non-existent email addresses and, should there be any accusations of spam, it will be easier for you to demonstrate users’ voluntary subscription (for example supplying the IP address, date of subscription etc.)
The single opt-in method has the clear advantage of allowing your list to grow rapidly, but it is also associated with a high degree of risk concerning spam complaints, leading to possible problems concerning deliverability.

Although both methods are considered legal under the CAN-SPAM Act and according to regulations applied across the world, the double opt-in method is more frequently used by the industry’s main players.
We also recommend this approach, due to its ability to allow you to build upon your lists in the most ethical way possible, bolstered by a two-fold confirmation provided directly by your users.