Internet Business

Internet Business List Building – Single or Double Opt in?

by doug on 20 April, 2009

Internet business list building is central to improving conversion rate and giving you multiple opportunities to sell without the expense of additional advertising.

There is great debate among internet marketers about using single vs. double opt in.

In this article we will look at what single is, what double opt in is, and their respective pros and cons.  See if you can guess one which I will recommend at the end of the article.

Double Opt In Description

A double opt in list is where the subscriber provides their email (and possibly other information as well such as their name etc.) and are then added to your mailing list, but in a suspended state.  They are immediately sent a confirmation email which informs them that they have signed up, and requests them to click a link in the email to complete the opt in process.

If they click the link, their list entry becomes active, and they start to receive emails and broadcasts from your autoresponder, according to the schedule you have set up.

If they do not click the link, they receive no further emails from you.

Double Opt In Pros

The great thing about double opt in lists is that everyone on the list definitely wants to be there.  If they took the trouble to fill out a form on-line, then open the confirmation email and click the confirmation link, then you can be pretty sure they are happy to be on your list.

This provides you with a quality list of engaged subscribers, and filters out bots that automatically add emails to your list.

Double Opt In Cons

Double opt in lists require two actions from the subscriber.  What if they miss completing the second step?

There could be several reasons why subscribers may not confirm, even if they want to be on the list.  Sometimes, confirmation email delivery is delayed.  By they time they receive it, they may have forgotten about it, or it may get buried by other emails before they even see it.

Sometimes, the confirmation email does not make it into their inbox.  It may go astray en-route, or get caught by spam filters.

As a result, your list may miss out on active and engaged subscribers who missed the second step.

Single Opt In Description

Single opt in lists require the subscriber to take just one action to become active on your list.  If they enter their email into a form on the internet, then click the submit button, they instantly become active members of your list.

Single Opt In Pros

The great thing about single opt in lists is that it provides you with a bigger list.  Even if some emails never reach them, there is a good chance that other emails will make it into their inbox, that they will see it, open it, read it, and act on it.

To some extent, internet marketing is a numbers game.  The more people on your list, the more people to sell to.

Single Opt In Cons

The problem with single opt in lists is that not everyone on the list wants to be there in the first place.  How could that be?

What if a well-meaning friend signs them up?  They don’t necessarily know what this email from your list is about.  They may be annoyed and mark it as spam, which can reduce deliverability to motivated subscribers when too many people mark your emails as spam, and spam filters black-list your email.

What if someone decides to play a practical joke on someone else and sign them up for your list?  What if a spam bot decides to sign up someone else to your list.

Adding unwilling subscribers does you no good what so ever.  If you are lucky, they will unsubscribe.  If they are not, they will mark your email as spam, and I already told you what that can do to your email address.

The internet is crawling with bots that attempt to sign themselves up on forms, usually in an attempt to get link-backs from blog posts.  A bot can’t necessarily tell the difference between your opt in form and your blog comment area.

As a result, you will get junk emails on your list with single opt in.


Internet marketing is somewhat of a numbers game, but you want the numbers to play themselves out more in some areas than others.

Play the numbers game when you publish ads for your website, and when you entice visitors to sign up on your list.  Some people will sign up, others will not.

If they don’t, use better copy and other legitimate conversion techniques to increase the sign-up rate.  And improve the quality of your ads to attract the right kind of traffic.

When it comes to your list though, it is more a case of quality than quantity.

If you think your list is 10,000 strong, but it turns out to be 10% spam and another 20% undeliverable emails, then what you really have is a list of 7,000.  Why fool yourself?  Why pay your autoresponder provider for a larger list when a significant part of it is completely useless to you?

Also, you want to reduce the number of emails that get marked as spam.  Keeping unwilling subscribers from your active list will help.

I recommend you use double-opt in.  It reduces spam complaints – not so much a business accelerator as removing an internet business brake.  It forces you to see the numbers of your business as they truly are, and make adjustments as and where needed.  And that is an internet business accelerator.

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