A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Double Opt-In Lists Improve Open Rates and Clickthroughs

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Think it’s more trouble than it’s worth to get people to double opt in to your list? Too big a hassle for your subscribers to go through the process? Evidence says you may be wrong.

According to research done by Mailchimp using their fairly enormous database of 30,000 list managers, double opt-in lists have higher open rates and higher click-through rates.

Interestingly, the open rates improve by about 70%, but click-through rates improve by more than 100%.

To me, that’s a telling stat, because it points to a list that’s more engaged and more open to your message. That’s exactly what you want from your email marketing. It’s what you want from all your marketing.

The negative stats also favor double a opt-in strategy. Hard bounces, soft bounces, and unsubscribe rates were all better (lower) for the double opt-in lists.

This does come down on some level to the standard “quality vs. quantity” debate that has always swirled around email marketing. And certainly, MailChimp isn’t exactly an interested bystander: any interest they have in your list being as big as possible (since their rates are based on list size) is more than offset by the fierceness which with they protect their deliverability numbers and overall anti-spam reputation.

I think the only thing missing is some attempted analysis of the trade-off between a larger, less engaged list that you might get from a single opt-in strategy vs. the smaller, more engaged double opt-in list. After all, if double opt-in cuts your list size in half, then a 100% increase in open rates leaves you with exactly the same number of opens … at least in the short term.

Still, while they might not have published their research if the results went the other way, I don’t see them fudging these numbers. Given the improvement in both negative and positive metrics, particularly the increase in open rates, just about everyone should move to a double opt-in approach.

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