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Single Opt-in Or Double Opt-in Email List - Are You Wasting Money?

Single or Double Opt-in?

Okay, here is the post I procrastinated for a long, l o o o … o o n g time.

Please, don’t ask me, why I finally got moving and finished it today. It’s certainly not the sunshine and beach weather that prevented me from doing this earlier. If it were, I wouldn’t get anything done at all. We have dream weather here a lot.

However, if you insist asking, I will respond,
“It was Frank Kern. He is guilty of having me finish that post.”

You might or might not know who Frank Kern is. He is one of the most successful email copywriters and business strategists in the Internet marketing community. Many call him a guru. Last week Frank launched his latest product, an interactive e-mail list building training program. The launch strategy was interesting to watch. It gives us a hint regarding the very old question:
“Single Opt-in or double opt-in?”

But first things first.

E-mail solution providers and to some extent law makers…
…are in favor of confirmed opt-in also called double opt-in. In case you don’t know what that means, here is a short line up.

Single Opt-in

  1. User subscribes to an email list.
    This can be done in various ways: web form, via sending an email, via telephone, a printed form, …

  2. The list owner can start sending information to that e-mail address right away.

Confirmed Opt-in

  1. same as above.

  2. The list owner sends a single message to that e-mail address asking the user to confirm the subscription — usually by clicking on a link in the email.

  3. Now the list owner can send information.

By the way, each email must contain information about the sender and how the recipient can unsubscribe from the list. This is a basic legal requirement in almost all Western jurisdictions.

The problem with single opt-in:
  • Anybody can sign-up with an e-mail address that belongs to someone else. What follows can be spam complaints or even legal proceedings against the list owner.

The problem with double opt-in:
  • No matter what, you are loosing people with any additionally required click.

    That’s a fundamental finding in usability. The assumption that people who do not confirm their e-mail address would not buy anything from you anyway is wrong.

Now the state of the industry seems to be: All entry level email marketing solutions require a confirmed opt-in procedure. Game over for single opt-in. However, the question single or double opt-in is very relevant in terms of ROI (return on investment) and profit from email marketing efforts. Don't forget many marketers are buying traffic for their opt-in pages. Then it does matter a lot if and how many people you are using on the way to the final sale.

What’s better for the bottom line — Single or Double Opt-in?

I read Jason Leister’s blog posts He argues single opt-in performs better.

(Back then I actually had the idea of writing this post.)

Then, later in September Daniel Levis referred to Jason’s post and wrote Followed up with a real test he did on the spot. The results — double opt-in performed better — are shown in his post

So now what?

A couple of month go by and Frank Kern does his big launch. I mentioned this in the intro of this post. He and his affiliates drive tens if not hundreds of thousands of qualified prospects to the many, cleverly designed opt-in pages. The lesson here:

Frank used single opt-in!

And since I know a little bit about how Frank Kern works, I can tell you for sure that he tests every major move before rolling it out on a bigger scale.

There lies your answer right in front of you.

You have to test it yourself.

There is no one fits all recommendation. It’s quite clear there is a good chance that single opt-in might perform better in terms of profit. Even when you consider that e-mail deliverability is usually lower for messages sent from single-opt in servers (\*).

(\*) That’s just a technical note: In order to increase reputation with spam fighters, email service providers have started to use different email servers to send email for confirmed and for not confirmed (single) opt-in lists. In general designated servers for double opt-in have a higher success rate of getting the email into the inbox of the recipients. Also don’t forget that a single opt-in list will contain mistyped e-mail addresses, etc.

My recommendation

Start out with confirmed, double opt-in, and start to generate income with your email list (↑).

I highly recommend AWeber (↑) as entry level service.

Once you are making significant profits, you can try out other solutions like Infusionsoft, which allow single-opt-in.

Now, what’s your opinion on this?
Let us know, leave a comment below.

John W. Furst

P.S.: By the way: Sign up to my email list in the upper, right corner of the blog.


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This post was mentioned on Reddit by marvin566: Two controversial answers to the old question, "what is better single opt-in or double (confirmed) opt-in?"


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Jarret on :


How can you say Frank Used Single opt-in? The whole double opt in to get referrers .. the List Machine script .. true not all of it was double opt in, but a lot was double. I think what's missing is educating the whole process to the user. Most people are not familiar with the double opt in process. They sign up for things on sites they already are on, click a button, and it's done. How many people would be using Google Buzz if you had to double opt into it? (and maybe that was even zero opt in). At any rate, it all comes down to how your site works to perform the double opt in, how much your readers are comfortable with you, and their willingness to try your product. Maybe they already know of a better, cheaper way to do what your selling.

John W. Furst on :



> How can you say Frank Used Single

> opt-in?

From looking at my inbox, but that doesn't prove that no double opt-in was used for other traffic sources. (It's unlikely however.)

A point for you.

Site design can increase confirmed opt-ins but it cannot cure everything. Daniel Levis concludes, "It depends on market, product, and other factors."

You wrote, "Maybe they already know of a better, cheaper way to do what your selling."

Exactly, because they signed up for two email lists yesterday. Today they find exactly what they where looking for in their inbox AND your "please, confirm ..." message.

Your, fancy "how to opt-in thank you page" with video might be already irrelevant.


Jarret on :


Whether we like it or not, the layman is not familiar with Aweber, or any of the other auto-responders. If your marketing in the IM space sure, I may vote single opt-in, most people there know what they are getting into. In other niches, if your sending mail with a link that doesn't match the site they signed up on, you have to educate them BEFORE they sign up possibly. (Maybe with a lightbox popup informing the user that they are now being redirected to your mail provider)

Personally, I would vote for the double opt-in outside of the IM niche.

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