When it comes to email marketing, “the list” is king.

The bigger your list, the better. And the better your list, the more success you’ll have with your email marketing campaigns.

Although the logic is pretty simple to understand, growing your email list is not quite so easy.

There are two methods you can use to enable people to sign up to receive email solicitations – single opt-in and double opt-in (aka confirmed opt-in).

The trick is figuring out which is right for you.

Single Opt-In

With a single opt-in system, a customer simply signs up – through a subscribe form – to be part of your email list and submits his information. He then immediately starts receiving your email marketing content.

That’s it. No muss, no fuss, no additional steps for the customer to take. He just sits back and waits to get your words of marketing wisdom in his inbox. Because it’s just a one-step sign-up process, your subscriber rates increase quickly.

But there are some downsides. For one thing, because there’s no second step to validate a person’s email, your subscriber list could consist of some bad email addresses, which are of no value to you at all.

Subscribers could have inadvertently entered incorrect emails or they could have provided fake email addresses just so they could download the information you’re offering at the moment. They’re not really interested in hearing any more about your products or services in the future.

And don’t forget that the spambots – computer programs – could also subscribe bogus names to your e-mail list. Why? Because they can.

The quality of your list is critically important but the fact is, a high bounce rate will damage your sender reputation. If more than 10% of your mailings bounce back, which is more than the normal range of bounces, your ISP will flag your emails as spam.

If this continues to happen the reputation for your domain/IP address with your ISP will be damaged. Hard bounces like invalid email addresses are particuarly detrimential because ISPs know that the email lists spammers buy contain a lot of fake email addresses.

Double Opt-In

Many email marketing companies prefer the double opt-in system. In this case, after a person signs up to receive email messages, a message will pop up asking him to check his email to confirm his subscription.

When he checks his email he’ll see something like: “You have just signed up to receive the XYZ newsletter. Please click here to activate your subscription.” When the person clicks on the link, his email is added to the company’s subscriber list.

With the double opt-in process, you can be assured people have entered their information correctly, which means you get a more accurate list and fewer bounce backs. This system also means fewer spam complaints because people are required to take an additional step and confirm their consent.

Not only that, but people who are willing to take that extra step are also more likely to open your emails and click on links. And positive responses increase your delivery rates and improve your sender reputation.

But there are some disadvantages to the double opt-in as well. Some 20% of people who sign up for your newsletter or other content won’t complete the process.

Some of them inadvertently delete their confirmation emails or those emails get stuck in their spam filters. And believe it or not, some people actually forget they subscribed in the first place. Still others might not understand the process all that well and won’t click on the confirmation links.

So, there you have it – the pros and cons of single opt-in versus double opt-in.

Which Process Is Right for You?

Only you can decide because what’s best for you isn’t necessarily what’s best for the next guy. Try them both. Take the advantages and disadvantages of each into consideration. Then stick with what works best for you, not what works for someone else.

Mike Arsenault
Mike Arsenault is the Founder & CEO of Rejoiner. He works with 350+ online retail & eCommerce companies like Hydroflask, Footjoy, GUESS, and Big Chill to help them grow faster using lifecycle email. He also once lived aboard a 36' sailboat in Boston.