Double Opt-in vs. Single Opt-in email signups--which is better?

37 replies
When it comes to building an email list, should you make your visitors "double opt-in" (make them go to their inbox, open a confirmation email, and click on a link to confirm they want to be on your list)?

Or is the "single opt-in" strategy the best (where they are added to your list as soon as they submit their information on your email signup form)?

Double opt-in is supposed to protect you from spam complaints and develop a more responsive list. But single opt-in will build your list faster because you won't lose anyone who forgets to confirm their email or doesn't see the confirmation email.

I searched for a definitive answer to that question online and wasn't able to find one.

I finally set up two email lists, one of the double opt-in and the other single opt-in and got 1,000 people to join each one and then I ran some tests. Here's what I found...

Subscribers:
During the same time it took for my double opt-in list to gain 1,000 subscribers, my single opt-in list grew to 1,249 subscribers. So there was a full 25% more people on my email list when I didn't require a double opt-in.

Open rate and click through rate:
Over the course of 5 emails via autoresponder the total number of people who opened and clicked through on email links were double opt-in: 57.6% open rate, 15.6% click-through rate vs. single opt-in: 63.8% open rate, 17.0% click through rate

Sales:
Sending out an identical sales email to each list resulted in 12 sales from my double opt-in list and 14 sales to my single opt-in list.

I don't want to draw any definitive conclusions from this because most the email pros (and the email services, of course) seem to recommend double opt-in, but I wanted to run this past everybody here first to see what your thoughts are.
#double #email #optin #signupswhich #single
  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Interesting results.

    The "it must be double opt-in" argument is often swayed by providers who put their own interest first, not yours.
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  • Profile picture of the author GuruGuna
    Many internet marketers recommend single opt-in.

    It all depends on what kind of list you are trying to build.

    One should employ single opt-in for a list they want to build quickly and they want to promote products through a pipeline.

    If they want to build relationship, etc., may want to consider a double opt-in.

    It all based on the strategy you are employing for the current campaign.
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  • Profile picture of the author rmolina88
    I always believed that double optin would also provide more responsive subscribers too, but after trying it for a while, I've switched back to single optin for this one reason:

    "Make things as easy as possible".

    I realized most people don't want to go through the trouble of having to login to their email again just to get on your list. Also, most people won't ever notice something unless it's flashed right in front of their faces.

    We live in a society of automation, so it's best to take advantage of it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Blades
    Depends on who you ask. I'd prefer double optins, but there are others killing it with single optins.
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  • Profile picture of the author Malcolm Thomas
    I have always been a big advocate of using single optin. I believe in the principle of making things as easy as possible for my sites visitors and subscribers.
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  • Profile picture of the author ronrule
    Single... many overly-aggressive spam filters or auto-responders that make you click to confirm you're a human being result in hundreds, if not thousands, of intentional subscribers never making it to the list.
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  • Profile picture of the author pingsters
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    i always prefer single optin. That work's great and double optin always ended up for me getting low subscribers at the end of the day.
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  • Profile picture of the author solopreneur
    That's awesome--thanks for the responses!

    Does anybody have numbers to back up what you're saying? I was leaning towards single opt-in myself before I tested it out, but I'd like to make sure what I experienced wasn't just an anomaly of some type.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonwebb
    I've used both and single is just less of a let down. I still use double when working with solo ads (or any cold traffic) but for anything else its single

    Thanks for sharing your findings
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    • Profile picture of the author solopreneur
      Originally Posted by thugpoet View Post

      Thanks for sharing your findings
      I'm always happy to share my findings.

      The fact that more people opened and clicked through the single opt-in list I thought was unusual. I wasn't expecting that. That might be reversed if I track it beyond more than 5 emails, but everything else holds solid so far.
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  • Profile picture of the author Stuart Walker
    I don't have numbers to back it up but for me it just makes sense to go with single opt in because there's always going to be people who never receive the confirmation email, can't be bothered to log in and click it, forget, say they'll do it later then not bother...so you lose a ton of subscribers. Single all the way for me.
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  • Profile picture of the author zeroaffiliate
    Really depends on what you want, if you want a huge list. single opt-in works best. But some marketers prefer double opt-ins as it creates a more responsive list.
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    • Profile picture of the author gurugrimmer
      Originally Posted by zeroaffiliate View Post

      Really depends on what you want, if you want a huge list. single opt-in works best. But some marketers prefer double opt-ins as it creates a more responsive list.
      Exactly... The odds of getting quality leads from single optins is generally reduced. But not always.

      The answer as always... test, test, test... there is no right and wrong answer here... only different strokes for different folks.
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      • Profile picture of the author solopreneur
        Originally Posted by gurugrimmer View Post

        Exactly... The odds of getting quality leads from single optins is generally reduced. But not always.

        The answer as always... test, test, test... there is no right and wrong answer here... only different strokes for different folks.
        I would think that with a single opt-in you would get the same people signed up (the ones who would have double opted-in, or "high quality" leads) as well as the ones who might not have double opted-in because the confirmation email got lost or they missed it or they just don't check their email that often. Or they're fake.

        So a single opt-in list would have just as many good leads as the double opt-in, plus a bunch of questionably quality leads (and some bounces as well).

        That's what I took away from the sales part of my experiment--I assumed that I would have the same number of units sold to each list if the extra subscribers from the single opt-in were poor quality, but I sold 2 more units to the single opt-in list presumably because there are still good people in the 249 extra people on that list.

        My experiment isn't conclusive by any means, but I think it's reasonable to assume you're missing out on a lot of good people that, for one reason or another, aren't confirming their subscription when you have a double opt-in subscription.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    I really appreciate the fact that you actually tested this and can share some results with us. Thank you.

    In response to your question - I set all of my lists to double optin.

    Mostly for personal preferences, but something you've got to be mindful of is that there's nothing to stop someone from signing someone else up unknowingly on a single optin list.

    That can cause all sorts of issues.

    By the way, I use clear instructions on all of my pages (including video) "go here, click this" etc.

    If they can't follow that, then its not likely they're my target audience anyway.
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    • Profile picture of the author solopreneur
      Originally Posted by John Romaine View Post

      In response to your question - I set all of my lists to double optin.

      Mostly for personal preferences, but something you've got to be mindful of is that there's nothing to stop someone from signing someone else up unknowingly on a single optin list.

      That can cause all sorts of issues.
      I've been concerned about that in the past, but I've never heard of it actually happening (where somebody signs a bunch of people up to your email list).

      But it certainly is a possibility .
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  • Profile picture of the author visimedia
    thx to share this with us. I think it's an interesting stats, but I personally think double or single optin can still be profitable, and at least it's much better than building no list. lol.

    I built single optin to one of my list in make money online niche, and I sold them products even when it's single optin. So, it really depends more to our relationship with them. Building the trust first always be the priority.
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    • Profile picture of the author solopreneur
      Originally Posted by visimedia View Post

      thx to share this with us. I think it's an interesting stats, but I personally think double or single optin can still be profitable
      Certainly both can be profitable. So I guess the question I would have now is...

      Are there any circumstances where double opt-in is better than single opt-in?

      We've kind of talked about protecting ourselves from spam complaints and the possibility of someone submitting emails of people who didn't want to be on the list. But is there anything important I'm missing?
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      • Profile picture of the author KuhNoodle
        Originally Posted by solopreneur View Post

        Certainly both can be profitable. So I guess the question I would have now is...

        Are there any circumstances where double opt-in is better than single opt-in?

        We've kind of talked about protecting ourselves from spam complaints and the possibility of someone submitting emails of people who didn't want to be on the list. But is there anything important I'm missing?
        Well from personal experience when I buy something opting in once is enough, when I've got to go through the pain of double opting in I usually just say screw it.... unless I really need to go through it to get what I need.
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  • Profile picture of the author Charles AK
    Do Both!

    For squeeze pages do double opt in, and if they get sent to a members area after the opt in, do the double opt in on the members area.
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  • Profile picture of the author Charles AK
    Do Both!

    For squeeze pages do double opt in, and if they get sent to a members area after the opt in, do the double opt in on the members area.
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    • Profile picture of the author solopreneur
      Originally Posted by KuhNoodle View Post

      Well from personal experience when I buy something opting in once is enough, when I've got to go through the pain of double opting in I usually just say screw it.... unless I really need to go through it to get what I need.
      I'm with you there KuhNoodle...

      Originally Posted by Charles AK View Post

      Do Both!

      For squeeze pages do double opt in, and if they get sent to a members area after the opt in, do the double opt in on the members area.
      Any particular reason for this Charles?
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      • Profile picture of the author Charles AK
        Originally Posted by solopreneur View Post

        I'm with you there KuhNoodle...



        Any particular reason for this Charles?
        If they don't enter in the correct email the first time, when they get sent to the members area, they know they will have to enter in their correct email to get there email confirmation, usually the email people use on membership sites are the one they regularly use.
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  • Profile picture of the author JHandy
    At the end of the day, it's just a matter of testing what works best for you. I used to be of the persuasion that single optin was the best route to go because of the higher conversion numbers. Especially if you're spending money on solo ads. But I've since decided to go double for the simple reason of quality. I'm not as concerned about how many opt in, but whether or not they know who I am when I email them. If they don't ever open your emails, what's the point in having a bunch of people on a list right?

    Now I can see this working for single opt in as well IF you've given a very good FREE offer that really helped them. You did your job right out of the gate and they will be looking for more from you. But it's not that often that you get it right the first time and thus a poor open rate unfolds for ya. But as I said, just test it over time as you've done and it may just flip on you. To be honest, I was kinda surprised that your numbers were so close.
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  • Profile picture of the author djclark
    Wow! Either you are really into numbers or you are over analyzing this! From what I see single optin results in 25% more subscribers. All the rest is close. What do you want a bigger list or a more responsive list? This is just personal preferences.
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  • Profile picture of the author JasonBennet
    I personally use the single opt in mode because I want to get as many people as possible to join my list. Of course there are people who will mention that quality is more important than quantity. For me, I feel both are equally important
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    • Profile picture of the author GlenH
      The answer is simple...if you ask prospects who arrive on your site to do too many things,..(opting in and then having them confirm an email) they just won't do it.

      You'll lose too many prospects because they don't do that email confirmation.

      That's why for 10 years, I've stayed with single optins.

      Looking at it from the opposite side, personally, when I get to site, optin and the I have to confirm an email, I hate it. And many times I've not gone back to confirm.
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  • Profile picture of the author bobby_shahzad
    in our internal results obtained through our company data, we can confirm that single optin was a clear winner interms of opens and clicks. that is when we decided to keep an open policy about single optin, and let our customers import their lists without re-confirmation.
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    • Profile picture of the author solopreneur
      I'm with you all--I'd rather have 1,000 quality subscribers + 249 subscribers of unknown quality than just 1,000 quality subscribers.

      Maybe I'm over-analyzing it, but it's better to have numbers to back your decisions up, right?
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  • Profile picture of the author mervp
    I'd lean towards single opt-ins a well, given the added factor that many people don't want to confirm their email to you, but are perfectly willing to give you the data the first time.

    Single optins can be treated more like web 'browse-only' visitors, who you treat more as a short term prospect, and submit a paid offer to sooner rather than later.
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    • Profile picture of the author solopreneur
      Originally Posted by mervp View Post

      Single optins can be treated more like web 'browse-only' visitors, who you treat more as a short term prospect, and submit a paid offer to sooner rather than later.
      I'd agree--when somebody joins your email list you can assume they're as hot a prospect for buying something as they'll ever be.

      That, and there's no guarantee they'll open any of your emails you send, but they will certainly see a "thank you" page after subscribing. That would make a whole new good topic to talk about.
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  • Profile picture of the author CRGreen
    I've used single optin since coming online in 2006. This means that people do not have to search for the email message to confirm, but it also means that I cannot move that list to another service. They say your list is cleaner with confirmed opt in, but I have had no difficulty during all of this time. Hope this is helpful.
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  • Profile picture of the author igorGriffiths
    I had always used double optin but after comparing the conversion results I have switched to single optin.

    By using single optin, you can get on with the marketing and avoid being put on the 'will do later' pile by which time they are in a far more analytical mindset and of course less responsive to the funnel offers.
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  • Profile picture of the author MoneyKattz
    Interesting posts to consider.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kal Sallam
    Single opt in with email only.
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  • Profile picture of the author jakejoh10
    I've always used double opt-ins, but I think I need to do some testing and see if single works better for me. Thanks for sharing your results.

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  • Profile picture of the author marcuslim
    Single opt-in for 2 main reasons -
    1) You want to put up the least barrier to getting that opt-in as possible
    2) People put in fake names anyway
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