With the world on high alert over digital privacy, you might be taking a second look at your email subscriber on-boarding strategy.

Email is a key part of effective marketing. Success follows if you do it in a way that serves your existing user base, entices new subscribers, and boosts your conversions. You want to build a massive list, but you also need to protect your company. While collecting subscribers, definitely avoid doing anything — intentional or not — that triggers recipient complaints or a visit from your legal department!

Building Your Email List

Solicited vs. Unsolicited

If you cast a wide net to harvest email addresses, you will certainly build a massive list. Harvesting includes buying lists, using spiders and crawlers, even using RFID badge scanners that capture the contact information of any event attendee that happens to pass within scanning range. If quantity is your only goal, well done. But be warned – if you send a barrage of unsolicited bulk email, you risk one or more of the following possible outcomes:

  • Your emails flagged as spam and/or your company getting blacklisted and/or your email vendor suspending your account for non-compliance.
  • Your email list becoming so clogged with bad addresses that your bounce rate exceeds your open rate and you spend more time cleansing bad data than talking with good leads.
  • You yield few conversions, but many complaints, counterproductive to quality customer care and risking your brand reputation.

Ideally, you want interested subscribers properly motivated to later convert into paying customers. So how do you on-board the “right” subscribers the “right” way for the best-possible results? You have two options, each with benefits and drawbacks. Which method works best for you depends upon what kind of business you’re in, what is your email campaign strategy (ie: drip campaign, weekly newsletter, transaction-based), and who is your target audience.

Benefits and Drawbacks: Single vs. Double Opt-in

Single Opt-in is a simple pop-up, sign-up form, or Call-To-Action embedded on your website, blog or social media page. With Single Opt-in, people simply enter any email address, generally responding to some sort of enticing piece of free content that they can download. Right away you’ve got a new subscriber.

  • Benefit: Everyone is busy. You need to make things easy. Single Opt-in is “one click” easy.
  • Drawback: You might get some bad email addresses. Say you offer a free eBook in exchange for the email address. There’s nothing preventing people from entering a fake email address just to get your free download.

With Double Opt-in, people enter any email address, but they won’t become subscribers right away. The system automatically sends an authentication (or “welcome”) email first, and only when the recipient clicks to confirm will you get a new subscriber.

  • Benefit: Excellent for maintaining a clean, verified email list. Less data clean-up for you, 100% engaged subscribers.
  • Drawback: Risk of recipients missing, or just ignoring, that authentication email. Should that happen you might need to do extra work to re-engage recipients and entice them to subscribe. (This is when automated email platforms rule — you can configure them to auto-send a reminder after a certain time period.)

Many email marketing platforms include functionality that you can custom-configure to activate Single or Double Opt-in. Some even let you segment subscribers based on how, when, and where they signed up, empowering you to track what works best to engage subscribers — downloads, surveys, contests  or a unique Call-to-Action. If your email marketing platform does not include any opt-in settings, there are a variety of user-friendly plug-ins and extensions that you can easily embed in your website, blog and social media pages.

Find Opt-in tools on CabinetM.

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