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Double Opt-In: What Marketers Should Know

by: Mohammed Zaman (@IBMforMarketing)
23 February 2015

In today’s email marketing world, how you retrieve consent from your subscribers is becoming ever more critical. Why? Between ISPs like requiring senders to have expressed consent and the introduction of CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law), making sure you have consent from your recipients has become increasingly important.

What Is Double Opt-In?

Double opt-in (DOI) is a two-step process that’s used during the email registration process to confirm the subscriber actually owns the email address being used. Compared to a single opt-in sign-up form, there’s an extra step involved in which a confirmation message is sent to the email address, requiring recipient confirmation. After clicking the link, the recipient is then added to the subscriber list along with pertinent opt-in data.

Advantages of Double Opt-In

First and foremost, having consent from recipients that clicked on the opt-in means they are more likely to become engaged users and less likely to generate abuse complaints. It also helps ensure you're targeting the recipients who actually want to receive mail from you. Below are some further benefits:

  • Double opt-in requires users to provide a legitimate address in order to fully opt in, helping you maintain a cleaner list and reducing hard bounces resulting from bad addresses and domains.
  • If a malicious bot script enters numerous email addresses that are invalid, it’s unlikely they’ll become subscribers because the email addresses will have to be manually confirmed.
  • If you have to prove an email address opted in, having a DOI process will show the email address was confirmed.

Potential Concerns Involving Double Opt-In

With everything in life, there are a couple of concerns of note with double opt-In:

1) The confirmation email is overlooked or lost: Some users might forget they’re required to check their mailbox for the confirmation link. In other cases, recipients might accidentally delete the message. Or, the message might end up in the bulk/spam filter. In each of these scenarios, the new subscriber would remain in a pre-opt-in state.

2) Lower conversion rates: Typically with double opt-in, there is a lower conversion rate because of the extra step required.

Both of these issues can be mitigated by explaining the confirmation process on the opt-in page. Also, make sure your “From” name is well-branded and easily recognizable, use a simple subject line that repeats the confirmation request, and test the confirmation process to make sure it works.

One other tip: In your DOI confirmation email, include a link that says, “This is not me.” This can serve as an opt-out link in case someone enters the incorrect address at the time of sign-up.

Final Thoughts on Double Opt-In

The main purpose of DOI is to make sure you focus on recipients who want to receive your mailings. Email marketing is ever-changing, and today keeping users engaged and having active recipient data is critical.

For example, Google (the biggest ISP/mailbox provider in the email space) uses engagement as a key metric for distinguishing wanted mail from unwanted mail. In other words, engagement is important in increasing email deliverability, converting recipients into buyers and helping reduce bounces … so why not help yourself build the best subscriber list possible? A double opt-in process can help you get there.

Related Resources:

1) Blog: “Defend Your Database Against the Bad-Address Bots

2) Blog: “3 Opt-In and Opt-Out Deliverability Tips

3) Web page: “ General Provisions

4) Web page: “Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation


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