It should be apparent that you should send emails only to those who have subscribed to your mailing list. This can be achieved with a simple sign-up page where individuals choose to receive a newsletter, an autoresponder series, or another type of information. And of course, avoid any temptation to send unsolicited emails under any circumstances.

The subscription process is most commonly accomplished in two ways: single or double opt-in. The simplest way, “single opt-in”, or simply “opt-in” involves adding an email address to a list after someone enters their information on the sign-up page. A “welcome” or “thank you” email can then be sent to establish initial contact. This email should contain some engaging introductory content as well as a link for unsubscribing. The subscriber will subsequently begin receiving emails without having to take any additional action.

The other leading subscription method is “double opt-in” or “confirmed sign-up”. This method involves an additional confirmation step after the initial sign-up. As soon as an individual submits their email address, they are sent an automated response with a link to confirm their subscription. If they don’t click the confirmation link, they won’t be added to the email list.

To ensure effective email marketing, it’s advisable to reflect upon your particular situation before making a decision, as each of these methods has both advantages and disadvantages which are outlined below:

Single Opt-in

Pros:

  • This method is the simplest for prospective subscribers; they provide their email address once and they’re set.
  • You can start sending messages to new subscribers right away – there’s no need to wait for them to confirm their subscription.

Cons:

  • This method doesn’t confirm that a particular email address was actually submitted by the person who owns it. Sometimes mistakes are made or faulty addresses are entered – and you don’t want to send emails in either case.
  • A competitor or hacker can submit third party email addresses, and the individuals who own those addresses could complain that they are receiving unsolicited mailings – which could result in your company getting blacklisted by spam services.

Double or Confirmed Opt-in

Pros:

  • Double opt-in can help narrow your audience to those who are serious about receiving the information you are offering. An individual who takes the extra step of confirming their subscription is likely more interested in your marketing message than someone who fails to confirm.
  • The extra confirmation step protects you from sending emails to wrong or bogus addresses.

Cons:

  • Your confirmation email could easily be routed to your new subscribers’ junk folder, especially if they’ve never received a message from your server – which is probably the case. Unless they happen to check their junkmail and notice your email, they may never get the opportunity to confirm their subscription.
  • Some people may simply be too lazy to click the confirmation link, or may have changed their mind by the time they receive the call to action.

Which Way Is Best?

As advised earlier, the best approach is to assess your business’ unique situation and to choose a method that suits your specific needs and goals. By analyzing the sign-up, confirmation, and conversion rates of the method you’re currently using, you can gain an objective perspective of whether your business would benefit from a different approach.

The same considerations apply even if you’re setting up a mailing list for the first time, and in the next post we’ll outline the necessary first steps to setting up your list. So, you’re already well on your way to utilizing the full potential of email marketing!

About the author: Keith is the co-founder of Summit Evergreen, and helps course authors, product creators, and self-funded businesses increase their revenue from their existing traffic.