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Embrace the Double-Optin for Email Lists!

Here at Solamar, we just finished a big switch from Infusionsoft to Mailchimp for all of our online forms / email management. While Infusionsoft is great, we just didn’t need that powerful of a system for what we were trying to accomplish with it, and Mailchimp is our total fave if you don’t need all of the power that Infusionsoft offers.

As we were thinking through the migration and how best to approach it, one issue came up — Mailchimp requires a double-optin for list sign-ups.

What this means is that when someone fills out a form on our site, they don’t automatically get entered into the list on Mailchimp. First, they get sent a confirmation email asking them if they reeeaaaalllly wanted to sign up. Only once they click the button in that email are they finally added to the list and taken to any thank-you pages.

At first, we were like, “Heck, no!” The last thing we wanted to do was add more complexity to the process for our visitors, and were afraid of losing people if the confirmation ended up in a spam folder (which sometimes happens). We wanted signing up to be as simple and painless as possible. What if they missed the confirmation email, or got annoyed at having to take another step and didn’t continue?

So we started researching ways of getting around the double-optin, and there are a few ways to do it, but they involve pretty janky hacks where you dump everything into a third-party spreadsheet and then reimport into Mailchimp from there.

In general I’m not a big fan of hacking systems this important. You can’t be sure your hacks will be available to you in the future if the email service upgrades their code, or the developer discovers the loophole and starts actively blocking it. Even if you come up with a solution that works for you now, you may have to deal with a massive failure down the road because one step in your system is suddenly not working.

UNLESS…the functionality you need is so critical to success you can’t live without it AND it can’t be replicated in some other manner. In that case, you cross your fingers and go for it, but always with an eye towards replacing the hack with a legitimate solution at some point.

Our Mailchimp double-optin certainly wasn’t so critical that we had to hack around it. So we went back to looking at the double-optin and what it would really mean for us. The more we looked, the more we came to understand why it is that Mailchimp requires it.

Mailchimp actually make a pretty good case for requiring the double-optin in their documentation:

With single opt-in, people fill out a signup form and are immediately added to a mailing list, even if their address is invalid or contains a typo. Single opt-in can clog your list with bad addresses, and possibly generate spam complaints from subscribers who don’t remember signing up…

…Double opt-in adds a layer of confirmation to your signup process before adding new subscribed contacts to your list, and it has three main benefits compared to single opt-in.

  • Protection against spambots, email scams, and fake subscribers, which could increase your monthly billing rates.
  • Assurance of valid email addresses, confirmation that your subscribed contacts want to hear from you, and an archived record of the subscriber’s consent.
  • Higher campaign open rates, and lower bounce and unsubscribe rates.

If you go single opt-in, you significantly increase your vulnerability against security threats and spam. Which we definitely didn’t want to do!

So we went all-in on the double-optin! We’d prefer to have a better open-rate and less spam, and slightly increase the annoyance factor for people who opt-in. The leads you’re losing from people who can’t handle or don’t see the confirmation email because it went to spam are probably your least valuable leads. Most people who really wants to engage are going to click the confirmation email, or look in spam if they don’t see it.

Plus, we came up with a way to solve the spam issue and some of the annoyance for everyone without getting rid of the double optin! Gravity Forms, which we use to build all of the forms on our site, allows you to have a message show up on successful submission. In that message we make sure to let people know to be on the lookout for the confirmation email. That way, they know it’s coming and they’re less likely to be annoyed or surprised by it when it arrives. If don’t see it, they’ll be more likely to look in their spam folder for it.

So there you have it! We’re all set up on Mailchimp, and no longer worried about our double-optin. Want to make sure you stay up-to-date on the latest marketing tips and info? Sign up for our Newsletter (now with more Mailchimp!) and don’t forget to look out for that confirmation email!