Double Opt-In Foolproof Guide: What It Is, How to Set It Up, and Do You Need It

Double Opt-In Foolproof Guide: What It Is, How to Set It Up, and Do You Need It
16 February, 2022 • ... • 1462 views
Victoria Golovtseva
by Victoria Golovtseva

Double opt-in vs single opt-in has always been the eternal struggle of email marketing. This marketing debate is never-ending as the double opt-in system has both proponents and opponents. Some marketers believe that single opt-in is the best practice because it’s simple. The others, like we at Selzy, recommend the double opt-in for the best results of your marketing efforts.

In this article, we will show the benefits of a double opt-in system compared to the single opt-in, and give some examples. Then, you can decide whether this subscription system fits your email marketing strategy or not.

What is double opt-in

Double opt-in is a two-step sign-up process. At the first step, a user subscribes to the list. At the second step, the user gets an email with a specific link to confirm the subscription.

Such a system doesn’t let non-active or fake email addresses into your list – only the ones that are genuinely interested in the sign-up. As a result, your open rate and CTR will be higher. If the recipients click on the link to confirm the subscription, you can expect that they are interested in your emails.

The opponents of the double opt-in believe that this approach complicates the subscription process for users. But, on the contrary, the quality of the email list you’ll get is much higher in this case.

The advantages of using double opt-in

Double opt-in subscription forms have several advantages making them preferable for marketing emails.

It keeps your email list clean

As we’ve discussed above, when your email recipients subscribe to your list you get unique subscribers with valid addresses. Likely, people who refused to take a second step to engage with your content were not interested in it in the first place. It means using double opt-in helps you avoid spam traps and raises the quality of your database.

You are less likely to be reported as a spammer

Another benefit of double opt-in is its anti-spam function. With single opt-in, people can easily subscribe with fake emails. It is hard to control this process even with expensive anti-phishing software. Double opt-in eliminates the threat providing the second step in the subscription process. With the growing credibility of your email address, the number of spammers will significantly decrease.

It provides you with more accurate subscriber data

One of the largest benefits of double-opt-in is that it results in more accurate subscriber data. It means that your email list includes only the target audience, not spammers or fake users. In such a way you save time and money on eliminating fake subscriptions.

It enhances your sender reputation

This benefit relates to accurate subscriber data. When you have quality subscribers they are more interested in your content. They frequently open automation transactional emails and do not mark them as spam often. This boosts your sender’s reputation.

It lowers the unsubscribe rate

When people go through a two-step subscription process it is less likely they’ll unsubscribe from your email list. There is a high probability that those who completed this procedure are your target audience. This way, you can have a high-quality audience interested in your products and lower the unsubscription rate as these people spend additional time reevaluating their decision to stay on your subscription list.

It improves deliverability

When people want to receive your emails the deliverability rates of your campaigns increase. The users who went through the two-step subscription wouldn’t report your emails as spam. As a result, you’ll maximize your deliverability rate.

Law requirements

To start sending emails you need to get people’s consent to add them to your list. There are a variety of international laws regulating this policy like CAN-SPAM in the United States and CASL in Canada. Another one is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – the European legislation on data protection. These antispam laws aim to protect the customers’ privacy and personal data.

The easiest way to get consent is via a sign-up form on your website. It can be a static form, embedded in your website, or a pop-up, like in the example below. The key is to indicate that by leaving their email, customers automatically give their consent for receiving emails from you.

signup form example
Source: Semrush

You can also put the consent info into a separate tick-box, just like on the example below:

getting consent example
Source: MailerLite

The requirements for receiving the consent forms vary by country, but they have one common point: your customer has to grant permission for your company to send him/her future content.

Single vs double opt-in

These two methods differ in the number of steps required from the user’s side to join the list. The choice will influence the quality of the subscriptions, the company’s reputation, and the effectiveness of future engagement efforts.

With single opt-in, people just have to indicate their email address and click “Subscribe”. Afterwards, either a pop-up appears confirming your subscription or you are redirected to a thank-you page that says “thanks for subscribing”. You don’t have to do anything else to subscribe. You’ve joined the company’s email list.

signup process, step 1
Step 1 - subscription. Source:
signup process, step 2
Step 2 - pop-up confirming your subscription. Source:

The marketers can also ask users to personalize their email preferences at this step to get higher engagement with marketing content in future campaigns.

On the contrary, double opt-in implies a two-step subscription process. The first step is the same as in the single opt-in when you enter your address and click “Sign up”.

double opt-in signup process, step 1
Step 1 - subscription.

But, there is also the important second step when you receive a notification where the company asks you to confirm your subscription.

double opt-in signup process, step 2
Step 1 - Double opt-in confirmation.

One of the main reasons to choose the single opt-in strategy is the quick growth of the email list. In case you’re new to the market and focus on fast growth, you may prefer to use this approach.

But in the long term, the quality of your email list might become a problem as the spammers are likely to join it. At this point, double opt-in guarantees better sender reputation and future higher deliverability. To make sure that you do not lose many subscribers you have to optimize your double opt-in and make it simple and valuable for the target audience.

There are several best practices to maximize your double opt-in confirmation:

  • Once the users click “Sign-up” you have to create a popup or a thank you page that will clearly explain what is the further action for them to take.
double opt-in confirmation, best practice 1
  • The subject line of the confirmation email has to make it clear what action the user has to take
double opt-in confirmation, best practice 2
  • The design of the confirmation email has to focus the users on the one action they have to take
double opt-in signup process, step 2
Step 1 - Double opt-in confirmation.
  • Once users clicked the confirmation link, make them feel welcome to your brand and explain the next actions to get started with the new product.

Here we’ve described the simplest example of the double opt-in pattern. But, you can create the best email fitting your requirements. We’ve covered some of the interesting examples and marketing tips for email design you might use below.

Double opt-in email examples

Let’s examine some double opt-in examples and email templates that will help engage effectively with your users and get the most of such a subscription process.

  1. Place focus on the CTA

When you’re developing the second email that asks your users to confirm their subscription, try to make it as simple as possible. It should have a clear call to action. That’s the easiest way to focus the users on the action they have to take in the signup process.

double opt-in confirmation form, example 1
Subscription confirmation form. Source:
  1. Make an email as short as possible

The other option is to make email as minimalistic as possible. You want the users to subscribe, don’t you. Then ask them exactly that. Nothing more, nothing less.

double opt-in confirmation form, example 2
Subscription confirmation. Source:
  1. Build rapport with your audience

You aim to reach the highest subscription rate in your marketing automation campaigns, don’t you? Then, a good option is to build rapport with your audience. Make them smile or tell them some interesting facts about your product. Such an approach helps to attract attention and make your product memorizable. People receive & overview hundreds of emails every day and you want to stand out of the crowd. That’s your chance.

double opt-in confirmation form, example 3
Look at how fun a simple confirmation email can be! The idea with fun facts is just great. Source:

How to set up a double opt-in system

The process of the double opt-in system setup is simple. You can do it in just several clicks depending on your email service provider. Let’s look at the example of how it’s done in Selzy.

Step 1. Go to the “Contacts” tab and select the specific list for which you plan to set up double opt-in.

double opt-in setup process, step 1
Step 2. On the left side of the panel click “Opt-in and opt-out tools”.

Step 2. On the left side of the panel click “Opt-in and opt-out tools”.

double opt-in setup process, step 2

Step 3. In the new window, fill in the subject line, the sender name, and the email address from which the email will be sent. Here, you can also edit the subscription confirmation email (4) and copy this email from the list you’ve previously configured (5).

double opt-in setup process, step 3

At the final step, you’ll see the standard email ready for editing. You can modify it in the way you like and create your own template from scratch.

double opt-in setup process, step 4

From now on, everyone who subscribes to the selected list will receive this confirmation email and, once a new subscriber clicks “confirm your subscription”, their email will automatically be added to your list.

Final thoughts

When choosing between double or single opt-in, there is no right or wrong. But in most cases, that’s the choice between quality and quantity. If you’re looking for the rapid growth of the customer base, single opt-in might be your solution. If, on the contrary, you’re thinking about a quality list without spammers and fake accounts then double opt-in is a better choice. Although your list might be smaller, its quality will be much higher and could potentially bring higher engagement from these subscribers.

16 February, 2022
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