The Battle of the Opt-In Methods

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods

It’s 2021, the golden age of data privacy laws and requirements, which means you should only be sending opt-in or permission-based emails. If you are not, you’re setting yourself up for BIG trouble—not only from a legal perspective, from a deliverability perspective as well.

Obtaining explicit consent from subscribers will not only ensure better inbox placement but will also help drive positive engagement and reduce negative reactions (like spam complaints and unsubscribes), which are all positive signals that contribute to good deliverability.

So, now that we’ve established the importance of getting permission before hitting ‘Send,’ let’s explore the best opt-in methods to use. Single Opt-In (SOI), Confirmed Opt-In (COI) or some strappy hybrid of the two.

This month we’ll be discussing the pros and cons of each opt-in method with deliverability experts from Word to the Wise, Netcore, Klaviyo, Pardot & Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Epsilon, ActiveCampaign, Zeta Global, Emarsys, ConvertKit, iContact and yours truly to help keep your subscribers happy and to stay in the good graces of mailbox providers (MBPs) and email service providers (ESPs).

What type(s) of opt-in method or subscription process do you recommend, and why?

So let’s begin…

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Opt-In Method

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods
Lauren Meyer
VP of Industry Relations & Compliance
Kickbox
@lauren_kickbox

Have you ever walked into a pizza place and had a hard time figuring out what to order? Choosing the right toppings can be totally overwhelming. The good news: you’re winning simply by making the decision to step inside that pizza joint in the first place!

All joking aside, the fact that you’re trying to decide what type of opt-in process to use tells me you’re on the right track because permission is the cornerstone of any healthy email program.

Beyond that, it depends on what your goals are with email. Use those to determine if your sign-up process should be tailored to collect as many sign-ups as possible (including potentially some low-quality data that could impact deliverability).

Or if your objectives suggest you should focus on quality over quantity (including a COI process to confirm recipient intent and real-time verification to reduce data-entry errors).

Some tips on deciding what’s right for you:

  1. Consider your audience. B2B or B2C? A one-time transaction or a recurring paid subscription? What is the goal of your conversion? How often do you want them to convert? What does your conversion cost to recipients (time, money, other)?
  2. Let your email goals guide your process. Are you using the right KPIs to inform your decisions? It may seem like a good idea to grow your list quickly, but rapid list growth does not always lead to conversions. It’s all about drawing in the right kinds of subscribers: those who will drive the right kind of activity with your emails.

    For example, offering short-term incentives that draw in an audience looking for freebies or discounts is not likely to attract prospects willing to pay for high-end products or services.

    Also, consider if you wish to focus on quick-wins (such as an e-commerce brand advertising a time-sensitive sale or a publisher aiming to get as many eyeballs on their content as possible), or if you’re looking to grow a list that will continue to engage with your email content over time, converting multiple times and/or becoming a paid account user.

    It’s rare for a brand to achieve both quick-wins and long-term success at the same time, so make your choice and plan your strategy accordingly.

  3. Start the relationship the right way. Send a welcome message right after sign-up. Get your marketing team involved to create something that’s on-brand, reinforces the expectations set during the subscription process, and gets them excited about what’s to come.

    This message can also serve as a record of when they signed-up (just in case they forget one day).

  4. Follow your email metrics. You may start with a single opt-in process (SOI) and then realize you’re pulling in a lot of invalid addresses or having issues with engagement

    If so, reconsider your subscription process to determine if it might be time to move to a more involved process.

  5. Always add a captcha. This will protect your sign-up forms from bot abuse.

2 Goals Every Subscription Process Should Establish: Identity & Permission

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods
Laura Atkins
Owner & Deliverability Consultant
Word to the Wise
@wise_laura

There is no one subscription process that I recommend to all clients. To me, a subscription process has two goals:

  • The recipient agrees to receive mail from the sender.
  • The recipient gives accurate contact data to the sender.

Over the years, I have helped clients craft subscription processes that meet the needs of their specific program.

I often focus most on ensuring that the process minimizes the number of bad email addresses on the list. This includes addresses that bounce, spamtraps and those that belong to innocent third parties.

Different programs have different levels of risk associated with their address collection process.

Some programs, particularly those that incentivize signups, have a higher risk of getting bad addresses.

For these, I’ll use strategies that layer on verification steps to ensure that the client really has permission from the address owner.

Other programs are actually pretty low risk, so we create a process that has less friction for the recipient.

One thing I recommend to most clients is to give feedback on the subscription page about the validity of the email address.

This is one of the best ways to minimize typos and mistakes in the email address. I do recommend finding a service to do this rather than letting your web developers write something themselves.

In addition to the feedback on the address entry field, I recommend a few other minimum practices.

  1. Use a captcha to prevent bots from filling in addresses on forms.
  2. Send a welcome message as soon as possible. This gives the recipient a record of when they signed up and lets you see if the address is deliverable.
  3. For customers in the brick and mortar space: never incentivize in person address collection at the register. This includes offering incentives to the recipients or enforcing collection on the employee.

The whole point of a subscription process is to get people to opt in to receive mail.

It only really needs to do two things: establish identity and establish permission. There are many ways to do both. Which way a particular company chooses doesn’t matter as long as those conditions are met.

There’s No Right Answer But Lots of Wrong Ones

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods
Matthew Vernhout
VP of Deliverability North America
Netcore
@emailkarma

This is a scenario where there is no right answer and a lot of wrong answers…

If you look at just the legal requirement of email marketing – in virtually every jurisdiction, “opt-in” is required, but virtually no one mandates the type of opt-in you must use.

The type of opt-in that each company decides to use is ultimately an internal risk acceptance practice.

When working with most clients, a single opt-in (SOI) is more than sufficient for their needs. However, that also means that they need to build stronger business rules around who they contact and how long that contact will be included in their active mailing lists.

SOI lists should build a welcome program to let the subscriber know that they have been added to your mailing list and what they can expect from joining the email program.

This is occasionally referred to as a notified opt-in (NOI) as there is a confirmation sent notifying the recipient of their subscription.

Also, accompanying a SOI process a webform should offer protections against subscription form fraud, aka listbombing, where a brand is implicated in spamming an individual in order to render their email unusable.

This includes implementing services like Kickbox email verification, ReCaptcha and limiting how forms are submitted to ensure that it’s not being abused.

Your email service provider may have other suggestions or solutions to help protect your organization as well.

When it comes to looking at something a little more robust to your subscription forms, moving to a Confirmed Opt-In (COI) can help prevent many delivery issues for an organization.

Or if there is a history of delivery problems (i.e., RBL listings), false subscriptions or form abuse, COI can help mitigate many of the long-term effects of a bad experience.

COI should also be considered where there are manual inputs from locations like point-of-sale terminal or call center where typos are common.

COI is also recommended when the communications between the organization and the individual are more sensitive in nature.

This could include things like banking statements, health information, or even adult content that should have a second review to ensure that the recipient is the correct and willing recipient of these items.

Whether you decide on using a single opt-in, a notified opt-in, a confirmed opt-in (aka Double Opt-in) or a mix of these opt-in practices, just make sure that it’s OPT-IN and not an OPT-OUT.

Confirmed Opt-In Is Not Something to Fear

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods
Francis Baker
Sr. Deliverabiliy & Compliance Specialist
Klaviyo
@frncsbkr

Personally, I believe the best opt-in policy is confirmed opt-in (COI). COI has multiple advantages, but I think some of the biggest ones I always highlight to clients are:

  1. People who opt-in through COI are already showing engagement with your brand. They want your emails; they want to hear from you. This also has a lot of downstream positive impact; this means people are more likely to stay around longer, which means you don’t have to spend as much money bringing in fresh faces since people are not churning as often.
  2. Depending on your legal situation, double opt-in may provide you with the proper proof of consent that you might need. This is important depending on your legal jurisdiction and will help put your legal team at ease.
  3. Having COI on prevents spam traps from getting on your list, which can help mitigate any major blocklist, like Spamhaus. We all know when any major blocklisting occurs, they have a massive impact on revenue for those marketing campaigns sent during the impact window.
  4. The last thing I want to highlight is when you use COI you avoid possible typos or bad emails getting on to your list. Which means the people who receive your marketing emails are the intended consumer, which overall provides a better user experience to your subscribers and does not leave them in confusion around why they are receiving this email.

    This obviously can avoid people marking an email as spam but can also prevent someone from having an unpleasant taste in their mouth about your brand because they receive what they feel is unsolicited emails.

COI is not something marketers should fear. People who want your emails will opt-in.

A New Challenger Has Arrived, “Confirmed Opt-In Lite” aka COIL

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods
Skyler Holobach
Senior Manager, Email Reputation
Pardot & Marketing Cloud
@holobachgirl

Which one is the best?

COI is gold standard

But, it’s a struggle. 🙁

It depends! If a client has no verification whatsoever, I’ll suggest just getting something in place with single opt-in (SOI) or with verification at the point of capture.

If a client understands and appreciates that COI is going to result in reduced confirmed subscriptions but that those subscribers will be more engaged, I’ll recommend COI.

COI is considered the gold standard of email- it verifies that the user behind that address exists and is actively interested in your content. Still, it’s an emotional struggle to implement.

We’ve been espousing the importance of “quality, not quantity” for years, and marketers may get that, but their management chain almost definitely does not.

For everything else, there’s COIL. Otherwise known as Confirmed Opt-In Lite, COIL is a process in which subscribers fill out a form, get sent a confirmation email, and get put onto a “quarantine” list.

Subscribers stay on the quarantine list for a set period of time- for the purposes of this example, I’ll say 1 month (but you, dear reader, should use your own data to figure out what is best for your needs!).

If they engage with your emails, they are removed from the quarantine list and are added to your main sending database. If they do not engage within your set quarantine timeframe, they are suppressed from future mailings.

What makes COIL great for the end-user?

In either direction, I don’t have to do any actual work!

If I’m not interested, I just have to do…nothing. I don’t have to open your email, find your unsubscribe, and deal with your hopefully-not-convoluted unsubscribe process. I don’t have to click to report spam. I don’t have to manually move your email to the trash. It just stops bothering me after a certain amount of time.

I also don’t have to tell you I’m interested! One of the biggest drawbacks to COI is the requirement for me to take some action to confirm interest.

There’s a massive dropoff point because of how much work you’re making the end user do. If I’m interested, all I have to do is what I was going to do anyway: read your email, maybe click a link. I’m able to clearly show interest implicitly without having to take any extra steps.

What makes COIL great for the marketer?

  1. Better targeting. You get to stop wasting time and energy on people who aren’t going to care about your emails, and you get closer to that ideal of sending a perfectly targeted email with the right message at the right time.
  2. Better metrics. You have a list of people who have given you clear indications they want your email. You’ll see better open rates, lower spam complaint rates, and overall better engagement with your messaging.
  3. Improved deliverability. Receivers love seeing engagement. It’s the signal they use to help them figure out where your mail should be directed to. If your engagement is super high, that’s going to go a long way toward helping keep your inbox deliverability high.
  4. You get more data! You’ve now got a quarantine list to look at! How many people fill out your form but don’t engage otherwise- does that tell you to change something in your welcome series? Streamline your content? Adjust how you present information? You’ve got an additional signal that helps guide you on where you could be adjusting and making improvements to your overall program.
  5. Easier ongoing maintenance. The best way to prevent database clutter is to…well, prevent the clutter from getting there in the first place! By sorting your interested subscribers from your disinterested subscribers upfront, you can help prevent future data-related headaches. Who are your most interested subscribers? Oh, it’s your entire database, and you’re sending to them at the perfect cadence, so your data is always up to date and your metrics are ridiculously good? COOL. Or…should I say…COIL?

COIL is a fantastic middle ground between having nothing and having full COI. It gives you the upfront subscriber benefits of single opt-in, doesn’t require any work on the end user’s part like COI does, and improves multiple areas of your email program. All in all, having something is better than absolutely nothing, but if you have the opportunity to do so, I highly recommend trying out COIL and seeing for yourself!

Which method to choose?

A challenger has arrived!

I’m a fan of COIL.

A Good Subscription Process Is More Than Following the Law

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods
Anne-Sophie Marsh

Director of Deliverability Services
Epsilon
Connect on Linkedin

I recently reached out to a shop via their online contact form and ended up receiving their newsletters. I wasn’t aware I had opted-in. All I wanted was for them to answer my question.

Probably, what they did was not against the law – I must have simply missed the mailing options tick-box.

But that’s the thing – a good subscription process isn’t just about following the law. It’s also about how much people who sign-up really want to hear from you.

So, here’s my first tip: get a truly informed consent. Make the subscription process visible. Don’t pressure people to opt-in (e.g. to get access to a game or a whitepaper).

Explain the benefits of signing up, set expectations on the content and the mailing frequency – then leave a choice. If they don’t want to sign-up, you don’t want them on your list!

Both spam complaints and unengaged users will hurt your deliverability – your ability to reach out to the folks who actually want to hear from you.

Then, aim for quality. Collecting fake or typo addresses is bad for deliverability. At best, they’ll hard bounce. At worst, they’ll end up being a spam trap or someone else’s address.

If you collect data at point of sale or over the phone:

  • Make sure that your employees are not incentivized or forced to provide email addresses (they will enter fakes).
  • Data collected on paper is a liability – it can be misread or typo-ed when digitalized. If you collect data in-store, consider doing so on tablets, for example, using a data validation tool on the form.
  • Run your list through a cleaning tool like Kickbox before importing them into your email platform.
  • Send a welcome email shortly after they signed-up, to prevent subscribers from forgetting about it.

If you collect data online:

  • Use a tool that checks “on the fly” if the email address provided is valid; you can add other criteria, such as not accepting disposable addresses or role accounts (e.g. sales@ or info@).
  • Secure your online forms (with re-Captcha for example) to stop spammers from subscribing real addresses to your mailing list – flooding their victims’ mailboxes with unwanted mail (a practice known as “list-bombing”, that can turn you into a source of abuse).
  • Ask for the email address to be entered twice (to avoid mistakes).

At the end of the day, nothing can prevent people from submitting an address that’s real but isn’t theirs, whether they’ve made an honest mistake or deliberately provided a fake. In which case your emails won’t bounce but could be hitting a spam trap (damaging your reputation) or upsetting the recipient. Consider that if you send sensitive information, it could be delivered to the wrong individual.

There is no magic formula: the only way to maintain the highest level of data quality is to implement double opt-in. Unfortunately, many organizations refuse to accommodate for it because they fear it discourages sign-ups.

If double opt-in really, really isn’t an option, at least send a welcome email, reiterating the benefits of subscribing and offering a clear option to unsubscribe right away.

Closely monitor new sign-ups for any negative signals such as opens/click activity, complaints, unsubscribes and spam trap hits, as well as addresses such as “donotmail@” or “noemail@.” New subscribers should be highly engaged with your program; if they aren’t, there’s a problem somewhere for you to solve.

Don’t Be The Uninvited Guest Email

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods
Monica Kelsey

Compliance Analyst

ActiveCampaign

@ActiveCampaign

Imagine waking up from a long rested nap, and a stranger is standing at the foot of your bed and just starts talking about winter apparel.

They offer amazing coats, sweaters, jackets, windbreakers, cardigans…you name it. But all you can think of is, how’d they get in here and why are they talking to me about winter apparel when I live in South Florida?

They haven’t asked you any questions, they don’t know your name, and they won’t stop talking to you about coats. The biggest concern being, who gave them your address?

This is how people feel when they receive emails they didn’t ask for.

Sending emails to people that haven’t asked for them is considered SPAM, and it can not only hurt the delivery of emails to those who actually wear coats, it makes for a crummy collection of email addresses for contacts that aren’t even interested.

The key to their success is first getting your permission to send you these campaigns.

There are several methods of asking for permission before you send an email.

Single opt-in (SOI) is a process where a new email address is added to your mailing list without requiring the owner of that email address to confirm that they want to receive your emails.

Confirmed opt-in (COI), also known as double opt-in (DOI), is a two-step process where a new email address that is added to your mailing list must confirm that the owner of that email address wants to receive your emails. This step is usually done via a confirmation email that is sent to the email address and requires an action prior to them being added to a mailing list.

There are pros to having a SOI list; fast list growth, lack of additional engagement required by the subscriber, and less chance of a confirmation email being overlooked (or lost in the inbox).

However, the cons of an SOI list include; email addresses could be invalid, spelled wrong, or owned by someone who didn’t intend on signing up, or you could become the victim of malicious spambots who use randomized or invalid email addresses to test the validity or security of your signup form.

SOI’s result in high bounce rates if emailing invalid email addresses, low engagement, high unsubscribes rates and/or high abuse complaints. SOI hurts the integrity of your list, which in turns hurts your deliverability as a trusted sender, causing that lovely email about winter apparel to land right in the spam folder. No coat for you.

So while DOI requires that extra step of the owner of the email explicitly confirming that they want to receive that email about new coats, the contact won’t be left out in the cold because the email bounced.

It may take more time to grow a list, but because those subscribers chose to receive your emails, you’ll have higher engagement on future emails, giving you the high-quality leads you desire. This gives you a nice healthy list of people who loooove coats!

In the end, the goal is to reach out to people who want to hear from you. And for that reason, COI/DOI is my ideal method of opt-in for maintaining a healthy list of engaged subscribers.

COI Offers More Pros Than Cons

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods
Jennifer Nespola Lantz

Director of Deliverability

Zeta Global

@ZetaGlobal

The most important process is one that collects the subscription as an opt-IN.

Single opt-in (SOI) is the bare minimum that should be used when collecting emails.

Opt-out may be legal in the US, but it doesn’t jive with customers, nor do the large mailbox providers list it as a best practice.

There is often a lot of pressure to use the opt-out method or purchased lists, but these methods have proven to hurt deliverability and sending reputation.

Regardless of the subscription process used, adding basic syntax checks to your site can help elevate the process for both you and your customer.

It will not only alert them that a correction is needed (you don’t want them wondering why they are left without any love because you never emailed them), but it also helps flush out any noise in your data (typos and such).

Add to that CAPTCHA and an additional layer of email validation, and now you’re strutting along a pretty sound path to combat bot signups and fat-fingered typos that are syntactically sound.

What ends up passing through will be legitimate customers. However, even with those protections, there is also the reality that the emails being entered may belong to someone else, be it purposeful or accidental. These are the emails that SOI just doesn’t cover.

Think of SOI as the basic level of protection. It is equivalent to wearing a raincoat in a storm.

Most of your person will remain dry, but whatever is not covered will still get wet, and even the part that is covered will eventually feel water seep in through the seams if you stand out there long enough.

However, add in an umbrella or stand under an awning, and you’ll likely remain dry with only a few droplets here and there.

Confirmed opt-in (COI) is that additional layer. Be it the full monty or a lite version, COI is my preference of choice.

This method of validating the subscription is the one that really helps solidify the incoming subscriptions and heightens your list quality to those that are really engaged and interested and are most likely to take those extra steps to interact immediately, often, and positively (ehem, that’s the secret sauce to deliverability).

One caveat here is the dreaded bot. Straight-up COI can create false confirmations if a filtering appliance engages, so something to keep in mind is watching a customer’s activity over time, when they interact, how often, and in what medium.

Even with a bot click, COI is the most protective and the pros of weeding out accidental or purposefully incorrect subscriptions outweigh the cons of a bot engaged confirmation.

If you are heavily B2B or are finding an unusual hike in activity that can skew your subscription process, find unique ways for your customers to confirm who they are.

Instead of a confirmation link/button, use animation, a game, or something interactive to create engagement beyond a single click.

A few other tidbits of advice for your subscription process:

  • Be clear about what they are signing up for at the point of capture
  • Repeat expectations and how subscriptions can be managed in the welcome/confirmation email
  • Use a preference center. What better way to set expectations for your customer than by letting your customer make them
  • Avoid pairing subscription with short-term incentives, as that will likely only infuse your list with secondary and/or disposable emails

Lastly, ALWAYS keep your subscription source and date on file just in case a question arises on where you received the email captured.

Weigh Out the Risks & Rewards

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods
Vytis Marciulionis
Deliverability Manager
Emarsys
@Emarsys

I am certain that not all experts will agree on one answer to this question. This particular question was analyzed so many times, and yet, we do not have a standard.

The reason for that is that we have different experiences, different business cases. We draw the “this is risky” line either further or closer to our comfort zone because of those differences, w

If I were in a spot where I would need to choose the form of Opt-in, having my current experiences, this is what I would consider:

Single Opt-In

Risks: Very high. You are risking spam traps getting into your lists, higher percentage of non-existing addresses that were mistyped, higher amount of spam complaints due to mistyped addresses being someone else’s email addresses and you even may become a victim of List-Bombing attack, where your lists will be filled with gibberish email addresses by bots.

Rewards: Very high (short term). Your subscriptions count will be the highest using this method, no end-user friction and no development time consumption. However, there is a high chance that eventually you will end up fixing your list acquisition method due to email deliverability challenges you will start facing because of the risks mentioned above.

Confirmed Opt-In

Risks: Low. Email deliverability becomes a factor, as you need to maintain a good reputation of confirmation email sending infrastructure.

For that, you will most likely need to implement at least one additional mechanism to protect your forms: a CAPTCHA solution on your subscription forms, an email validation like Kickbox or other methods, like hidden/honeypot fields in the form, strict IP throttling, email address typo corrector, etc., to protect your subscription forms from abuse.

You will need to remove as many mistyped, incorrect, non-human-entered email addresses before the actual confirmation email is sent.

Rewards: High (long term). Your subscription count will be lower, you will need to invest time in order to make your subscription forms full-proof and there is a certain amount of end-user friction where they will need to confirm their email address. The bright side is that in the end you will get the cleanest and mostly engaged database of recipients you can get, as they have already proven themselves that they are willing to go through multiple steps in order to receive your email.

Single Opt-in (secured)

This method is your casual Single Opt-in, secured with the above mentioned CAPTCHA, email validation or other methods, like hidden/honeypot fields in the form, email address typo corrector, etc., to protect your subscription forms from abuse.

Risks: Low. You will already cover the majority of security issues that would lead to email addresses that do not belong to actual potential clients (or people), being entered on your form.

Rewards: High (medium-term). You will need to invest time to secure your subscription forms, but the process for the end-user will be frictionless. However, considering the long term, the average life-cycle of a subscriber gained with this frictionless method should be a bit less than a subscriber going through confirmed opt-in.

The reason why I am saying this is related to user psychology and cognitive bias, which is called the IKEA effect. To put it simply, when you put in effort into something, you will stick with that something for a longer period of time and you will enjoy it more.

So at this point, you have a decision to make. Whichever decision you make, it is neither right or wrong and experts will not agree on it unanimously.

It is because some solutions suit one business the best, whereas the same solutions may not suit your business the best. However, I hope that this helps you see the options you have available and understand them better.

Confirmed Opt-In Beats Bots & Low-Quality Signups

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods
Alyssa Dulin
Deliverability Lead
ConvertKit
@alyssa_dulin

For most senders, I recommend confirmed opt-in when collecting subscribers. The main two reasons I recommend confirmed opt-in are 1. to prevent bots from listbombing and 2. to keep your list healthy by preventing low-quality signups.

  1. Listbombing – As many senders are aware, online signup forms are often the target of listbombing. While I won’t go too far into this topic, the gist is that email addresses are added to your list by a bot or script, and they weren’t really added to the list by the email address owner.
  2. This results in recipients receiving your emails who did not actually sign up to receive them and often leads to an elevated complaint rate. While I also recommend using bot-prevention tools like reCAPTCHA, enabling confirmed opt-in provides another barrier to entry for bot-added addresses.

  3. Low-Quality Signups – Implementing confirmed opt-in is also a great way to ensure that the email addresses coming through your form actually want to be on your list. Believe it or not, it’s common for people to enter invalid addresses into a form to either make the form go away or to gain access to something like a freebie or promo code.
  4. Adding every address that comes through your form without confirming their opt-in can cause your list to become unhealthy quickly. These low-quality addresses won’t be engaged with your emails which could lead to reputation issues as well as spam traps, which could end up resulting in a blocklisting of your domain or IP address.

I know that implementing confirmed opt-in can be frustrating, but it’s worth it. I’ve seen many senders get discouraged by the amount of unconfirmed email addresses that they aren’t able to send emails to, but the fact that the subscriber didn’t confirm their address is a signal that either they didn’t actually sign up, the email address is low quality, or that the subscriber wouldn’t have been highly engaged.

While implementing confirmed opt-in will reduce the amount of new subscribers on your list, it will also improve the quality of your list and help you maintain a healthy reputation and deliverability.

COIL + Protections Like CAPTCHA & Real-Time Verification FTW

The Battle of the Opt-In Methods
Brendan Matthews
Lead Delivery Resource
iContact
Connect on Linkedin

Like anything else in life or email where the rules aren’t set in stone, the best answer is “it depends!”

With many senders, I think the solution can be finding the middle ground by combining aspects of COI with normal, data-driven list management practices.

This can help build a healthy and engaged list while not having to resort to a “One-and-done” Confirmation message, which many marketers oppose.

What I like to recommend is the “Confirmed Opt-in Lite” approach (COIL), combined with protected forms and real-time verification.

I still feel it’s important to begin with protecting the actual points of opt-in with some form of Captcha – even though it’s 2021, list bombing is still a thing, so don’t forget this step.

Adding real-time verification to the process then helps to ensure risky or bad data isn’t going to end up on a list and hurt things down the line in the form of bad addresses that hard bounce in high numbers or ending up with “typo” domain spam trap addresses on your list.

After forms are squared away, it’s time to focus on the actual COIL approach, which is pretty simple:

  1. After opt-in, contacts are sent an immediate Welcome Message
  2. Contacts then receive 2-3 more automated messages over a defined period of time
  3. Contacts that do not register any engagement with the message sequence in the form of an open or click are removed from active sending

If your content doesn’t resonate after a few sends when the prospect is ideally at their most interested, it’s time to focus elsewhere.

New contacts that don’t engage aren’t adding quality growth to a list, and a high percentage of these contacts on a list may impact sender reputation at a more macro level.

Most senders find that applying COIL to new contacts also significantly reduces the number of non-engaged contacts culled from lists during the course of normal list hygiene/maintenance throughout the year, leading to more consistency in sending volume, which providers always like to see.

The other great thing about COIL giving multiple data points is that these can be used to give a greater overall picture of the health of an email program.

With the proper data collection, COIL metrics can be used to identify content or reputation issues at a specific provider, or even a specific lead source or CTA that’s yielding much lower (or better!) results than anticipated.

Automated processes, actionable data, healthy lists – is there an email marketer out there who doesn’t have these listed in their 2021 goals?


The Battle of the Opt-In Methods

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email-security-advice-to-combat-attacks

Email Security Advice to Combat Attacks

A compromise is beneficial when two parties are coming to the table to negotiate something they are at odds with. However, be it at work or at home, a compromised account favors only one party and the intent is not for the betterment of the relationship. Unless you’re following closely, a lot of compromises occur without much fanfare or significant news coverage. This is probably…

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