Double Opt-in vs Single Opt-in: Myths, GDPR, Advantages & Disadvantages

Since the GDPR was enacted on April 6th 2016. Businesses have moved back and forth on deciding on which opt-in method might be the best for them. The indecision stems from the fact that there is no clear cut rule.

After a ton of research and review of case studies, this article gives you the advantages, disadvantages and clarifies the myths behind opt-in processes to help you make the best decision for your business. Before we delve deep, let’s see what they mean.

What is Single Opt-in?

This is when a person subscribes to receive any kind of information from you to their email box, by entering their email address in an opt-in form you provided. This doesn’t require any other confirmation step to join your email list.

What is Double Opt-in?

This is when a person subscribes to receive any kind of information from you to their email box by entering their email address in a form and are also required to take an additional step of confirming their intent for subscription. The person is sent a confirmation email and must click the confirmation link in the email to join your email list.

Double Opt-in makes it certain that a person has shown clear interest in joining your email list because they have to opt-in twice, before they become part of your list. This puts your business in compliance with the GDPR.

Yet, you should note that the GDPR does not state double opt-in as a mandatory process. This means that, even though deciding to use double opt-in would keep you in the best graces of the GDPR, it is not a compulsory process.

Here are other advantages of double opt-in.

It Gives You a Credible List

When people have to complete a confirmation step, it reaffirms their interest in the information that you would be sending to them. You would also have filtered incorrect emails. At such it makes your email list more credible.

You can have only 2,000 people on your list and you are sure, they have high potential for conversion. GetResponse also shows results from its records which says that a double opt-in email list is more likely to give double your conversion rate than single opt-ins over time.

It Ensures Deliverability

Double opt-in can help reduce bounce rate and eliminate the possibility of a low deliverability rate. According to Litmus, people are more likely to “report spam” than click the unsubscribe button when they lose interest. They either anticipate some hurdles to successfully unsubscribing or the unsubscribe button was not visible.

If your emails are reported as spam too often, it will affect your business reputation and you will find that all your messages would end up as spam.

It Ensures Compliance

Double Opt-in offers a clear confirmation step. Therefore there is no doubt that any business that adopts double Opt-in is in line with the GDPR.

The advantages above might look worthwhile, but the disadvantages that double Opt-in comes with might make you reconsider this option.

It Reduces Your Email List

A recent survey by Mailchimp showed that over 61% of people don’t confirm their subscriptions. Making marketer lose over half of their list. Another survey also shows at least a 20 to 30% loss of email marketing leads.

However, Marketers also argue that if over 20% of your email list are lost anyway, then double opt-in is the best opt-in process. Other marketers feel that they would rather have their list and loose the customer interest, than observe the huge gap and loose actual paid leads because of this method.

Given these statistics, the email marketing software giant; Mailchimp made a switch back to single opt-in method as it’s default opt-in method but still leaves double opt-in as an option.

What is the Advantage of Single Opt-in?

Litmus carried out a survey in 2016 that showed that 55% of marketers would prefer single opt-in because of this advantage.

It Grows Your List Faster

Every marketer wants a fast growing list especially if you are new in email marketing. In the 2016 Litmus survey, Some marketers held this opinion; “people don’t have to take an extra step of confirming if they really want to be in your list, because it is ridiculous to assume they didn’t intend to, in the first place.” This means that you would have 20% to 50% more people on your list than someone using the double Opt-in method.

Everyone who has subscribed would be in your email list. You wouldn’t wonder how many would have been lost because they forgot or did not anticipate clicking the confirmation button in the email.

Here are also reasons why single opt-in might not be best for you.

Poor Deliverability

With Single Opt-in, you stand a risk of giving your business a bad reputation. As about 20% of the people who subscribe to your list might end up marking your email as spam and if they don’t, they would generally not be interested in opening your emails.

More Cost

You might also be spending more when you use single opt-in to generate your list, since Email automation providers charge your per the no. of email addresses you have. Even though your list might have fake emails and spam, you would be paying for more emails that can’t convert.

Low Quality Email List

Marketers who have an email list gotten through Single Opt-in would be paid less for advertisement on their emails than someone who used only a double Opt-in process to gather their list.

Single Opt-in Vs Double Opt-in Myths Clarified

Every Business should be clarified about the following on Single Opt-in vs Double Opt-in and privacy Laws

  1. The GDPR does not state explicitly that you should carry out double Opt-in to ensure consent in the collection of data.
  2. Businesses that have to collect data from German Citizens are using double Opt-in as a major way to prove consent in data collection due to strict data regulations and also its relevance in litigations.
  3. In other countries of the world, double opt-in is not required but you are required to ask for consent before collecting data.
  4. The United States CAN-SPAM act does not require a double Opt-in process and it also doesn’t require you to obtain consent before using a person’s email address.

Source: Litmus

Wrapping Up

Using Single Opt-in process to get email addresses does not mean that you are in breach of the GDPR, as long as you state the reason for your request on the opt-in forms , add all the details to your privacy policy and clearly leave an unsubscribe button in the emails sent.

Using Double opt-in on the other hand does doubles your effort in ensuring that you are helping people clarify their intentions to submit their data to you and also gives you a quality email list.

However, companies like Mailchimp who have gone back to single opt-in as its default opt-in didn’t do so for all its client base. Double opt-in still remains a default opt-in option for people in Germany.

After weighing the pros and cons, aligning the responsibility of your choices and the values of your business would help you decide the best opt-in process to use.


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