Issue #007

Double opt-in or single opt-in?

You know what sucks about email marketing?

I can head over to

And key in any email address...

And click submit wayyy too easily.

To combat this, email marketing platforms allow you to enable double opt-in on your forms, which just means that an email address isn't technically on your list until someone who has access to that email account clicks a link in a confirmation email.

In today's edition of Create & Sell, I'll show you why I never enable double opt-ins – all the while ensuring that the right people stay on my list, and the wrong people go away.

Why don't I like double opt-in forms?

Here's my problem with (built-in) double opt-in functionality...

  1. Your email marketing platform sends out a single email (i.e., "Confirm your subscription")

  2. They assume that the person who just opted in will check their email and click soon-ish

  3. They also assume no other emails are going to "muddy the waters" in the meantime

Imagine someone is killing time before bed and scrolling through Twitter. They find a link to a landing page of yours. They decide whatever you're offering is worth giving up their email address, they opt-in, and then they go back to mindlessly scrolling through social media.

Then they retire for the evening.

Tomorrow they finally get around to their inbox, but that single confirmation message is buried far down the list. They miss it. And they never hear from you ever again.

Technically use single opt-ins, but quarantine all new subscribers

Here's a better way to opt-in your subscribers.

Set up all your forms to be single opt-in.

But, before someone is eligible to start getting your actual content (like your newsletter), create a sequence of emails that follows up with them once a day for a few days until they click a link that confirms them.

Once they've clicked the confirmation link, now segment them as confirmed and deliver emails as per usual (I follow my own advice – see last week's issue – and use a confirmed_at custom field to determine if and when someone confirmed.)

And if they never confirm, have your automation automatically unsubscribe them after a few days.

The benefit here is that you have more than one chance to get someone's eyes on your confirmation email, and after a few days you can make it very clear that it looks like they really didn't want whatever they opted-in to, and you'll be deleting their information.

Set up a saved segment where confirmed_at has a value, and then only send your marketing emails to people in that segment.

This way, those in limbo will only get your "don't forget to confirm" follow-up nudges.

Other tips on keeping your list clean

  • Reiterate on your opt-in confirmation page the email address they opted in with. Typos are easy to make. If they messed up, let them re-opt in (easy) or simply update the email address you have for them (harder, but better.)

  • Tell someone explicitly on your confirmation page that they won't get X until they confirm their address. If X is something downloadable, like an ebook, just make the downloading of that ebook the confirmation link.

  • Don't show opt-in forms for returning subscribers. They get in the way, and can lead to someone typing in another email address than the one you have for them. Having multiple records for the same human = 😓

  • Remember that you still need to convince someone of WHY they should open their inbox to you – even if they just opted in to your list. Don't just hammer out the same followup emails until someone clicks to confirm. Switch up your emails to showcase why clicking your confirmation link and getting your emails will make their life better.