Permission-based marketing means you send marketing messages only to those who have given you permission to market to them. When your recipients have given their permission first, they are much more likely to take action and buy from you.
How you get permission is with an optin. Your prospective customer hands over their name and email address and then gives you permission to send them offers that they find valuable. Often the business offers some kind of free gift in order to entice people to hand over their contact information; this gift is then called an optin gift.
Single vs Double
In a single, or straight optin, once someone enters their name and email address on your website, two things happen:
1. They are immediately delivered to your free gift page.
2. They are subscribed to your “list”.
In a double optin, the prospect fills out the same form on your website, but before they receive their gift, they must re-confirm their interest by clicking an link in an email that is sent to them by your Email Service Provider.
Some people who sign up with a double optin process will never click that link in the confirmation email. These potential subscribers are then “lost” to your business. You don’t risk this loss when you use a single optin.
If that is the case, why use a double optin at all?
The Benefits of a Double Optin
1. Every email address added to your list is valid. It’s easy to make a mistake when typing in your email address (I do it all the time). Without the double check of the confirmation email, these erroneous emails stay on your list.
2. Your list is composed of only those who actually want to be on it. With a single optin process, I can enter ANY email address and still claim the free gifts — I could make up an email… or subscribe my friend…. or my enemy.
3. Spam bots cannot subscribe to your list. Bots are small computer programs that roam the Internet looking for forms to fill out. When they find one, they fill in all of the fields and submit the form. But since bots aren’t real people, they can’t click the link in the email and will never be subscribed to your list.
4. You have real contact info for all of the people who receive your free gift. When you deliver your gift to subscribers before you verify the information they provided is accurate, you risk giving away your gift without reciving the payment that you anticipate (the name/email). Would you deliver any of your paid products or programs without verifying payment first?
5. Double optin records prove that you are not a spammer. Spammers add people to their “lists” without their permission. This process is both annoying and illegal through the CAN-SPAM Act. If you send a high volume of emails, or if a high percentage of them get marked as spam, you may be put in the position of proving that you are not a spammer. This is not a case of innocent until proven guilty, but rather you are guilty until you can prove you are innocent. Since you cannot add someone to a double optin list, you have proof that these people all signed themselves up (even if they later forgot).
Best Business Practices
Nearly all Email Service Providers impose rules about how their service is used (and ALL of the ones that you should consider using). These stem from the fact every business using the service is impacted by the behavior of the other users. Somewhere in the contract that governs your use of the service, you will find acceptable percentages for bounce rate and spam complaints.
Spam complaints are triggered when a recipient of your email marks it as spam. Bounces are undeliverable email addresses.
If your account goes over the acceptable limits, you will be frozen out of your account. Some providers will give you access to your account after you demonstrate that you have learned your lesson and won’t repeat whatever caused the problem. Some providers find no excuse acceptable and will boot you out of their system permanently.
Single optins increase the chance that you list will be filled with undeliverable email addresses, which leads to a higher bounce rate.
Single optins also allow people to subscribe others to your list without their permission, which could lead to higher spam complaints.
What Will You Choose?
Instead of telling you which option to choose, I’m going to leave you with a single question: How much are you willing to put your business at risk?