What is Opt-in: meaning, types, pros and cons

Top marketers consider email marketing as a great way to nurture leads, convert them into customers, and drive traffic. In fact, email can yield an ROI of up to 4400%, which means that every dollar spent on email marketing results in $44 back. 

But since it’s so profitable, the competition is stiff, and getting someone to give up their personal information and opt in to your email list becomes extremely difficult. On average, a person gets 121 emails every day, and they probably don’t want any more letters! 

People are getting overwhelmed with email after email, full of offers, coupons, and promotions for so many different sources. But it being hard to gather opt-ins doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

What is opt-in?

In email marketing, opt-in means that a person permits a company to send emails to them, for example, by signing up at a web site or via a special ad banner. These emails inform recipients about specific topics, promotions, or events that may be interesting to them. Opt-in emails also usually contain newsletters, promotional information, product information, or special offer deals.

Opt-in example

Common opt-in types

Single opt-in

This one-step method is simple and requires a single action to sign the person up to your email list. All your users need to do is put in their email address in the relevant box to sign up for the company’s emails – there are no follow-up actions or confirmation needed. 

Once their email address has been entered, they’re instantly signed up and will start receiving marketing emails from the company. It’s simple to do, but there are cons to go with the pros.

Pros

  • People spend less time and take fewer steps while opting-in, which means your email list will grow much faster. After all, what’s easier than just entering your info, clicking once, and moving on?
  • Since there’s no confirmation email (like the one required in double opt-ins), you won’t lose any potential subscribers in the middle of the process.

Cons

  • There’s a higher chance of your emails being marked as spam. The lack of confirmation that they ever subscribed to your list might make people wonder why they are getting your emails in the first place. Or, in the worst scenario, they can change their mind about receiving your emails and mark them as spam.
  • Misspelled emails hurt deliverability. Confirming an email with double opt-ins promises correct addresses. Submitting your information once does not. Trying to send to misspelled email addresses doesn’t help anyone and will make your bounce rate look bad.
email verifier

Double opt-in

In the double opt-in method, instead of just putting in their contact info and that being the end of it, a person will then receive an email or text to prove it was indeed them opting-in. If they click through from the email or text, they will be marked as someone very interested.

Pros

  • You’ll have a much cleaner, more engaged email list. It’s safe to say that people completing the extra step to confirm are much more interested.
  • Sending emails to legitimately engaged users will improve your deliverability and enhance your sender reputation. 
  • Your emails are less likely to be reported as spam. If people have taken the time to confirm their addresses, they probably won’t be surprised when your marketing emails show up in their inbox.

Cons

  • The human practice of getting distracted can translate to unclicked links. Tons of emails come in people’s inbox every day, so it’s easy to lose one in the shuffle. Missing this email would make their initial form sign-up worthless.
  • Having extra steps makes extra work for the customer. Everyone wants the easiest process possible. And while to email marketers, it’s just a small extra email click – to customers, it’s like scaling a sheer cliff face.
  • List growth can be slower with double opt-in. Having more steps to subscribe means more time to grow the list.
Source: Litmus

Opt-out

Also called unsubscribing, opting-out is when a person no longer wants to receive email marketing emails, so they remove themselves, usually via a link in an email. While opt-in starts the relationship, opt-out is when a user becomes uninterested and ends it. Fortunately for you, opt-out helps keep your mailing list healthy, reduces spam complaints, and maintains the sender reputation.

Wrapping it up

Single opt-in is highly valuable when you’re just starting out or can’t afford to miss short-term leads. It’s also still the standard for most companies, though there has been a lot of migration to double opt-in. 

When it comes to double opt-in, it’s beneficial on a long-term basis, especially if you’re experiencing a lot of hard bounces from incomplete or incorrect email addresses from a single opt-in list. So, your choice between the two only depends on your business’s specific needs and goals.

But remember that building a quality email list is much more beneficial to you than just building a big list of whoevers. In fact, a large list can hurt your results if it consists of people who are unengaged with your company. Regardless of which method you prefer for getting your company an email marketing list, a highly-engaged email list is among the most powerful tools you can use in your email marketing efforts.

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