Friday, June 17, 2011

When does it make sense to confirm / double opt-in your email list?

Sometimes less is more with your Email Lists

When I help clients build web-site sign up forms to tie in with their JangoMail accounts, I highly recommend making use of our Confirmed Opt-In feature (sometimes known as “double opt-in” in the marketing world).

With an Email List that is Confirmed, any address that is added to the list first receives a brief confirmation message to ensure that the owner of the email address is, indeed, the one who registered and wants to receive mail from the sender. The email address will not be eligible to receive messages from that account unless the custom confirmation link in the message is clicked. JangoMail allows complete customization of this message, so it is easy for the branding and content in this confirmation to be recognized by the recipient, encouraging a quick click to confirm!

This makes sure our clients get nice clean email lists, and ensures that a recipient cannot be “signed up” by a third party for any reason.

As Director of Operations at JangoMail, I also find myself encouraging clients to make greater use of the Confirmed Opt-In tool in ways that go beyond the simple validation of web registrations. Sometimes, it can be an integral part of great list maintenance as well.

I know this can be a difficult message, and an odd one for a company that wants you, as our customer, to send out more emails!

After all, you go to great effort to build and expand your lists. It is perfectly reasonable to be reluctant to cut them back down. So, when does it make sense to re-confirm your data and prune the lists a bit? Let’s take a look.

Your list is getting old, and you haven’t sent to it regularly.

Lists that have aged are a bit notorious for causing spikes in complaints when you begin sending to them again later. The recipients haven’t heard from you in a while and often don’t remember signing up at all. If they do remember, their needs or interests may have changed. It’s a quick solution on the recipient end to hit the “spam” button to just make it go away. The problem is, this affects your reputation as a sender.

You are starting a new position or project, and you cannot find the original source of opt-in in your list data.

If you receive complaints from your campaigns, you will need to be able to respond very specifically to the complainant as to where and how he/she asked to receive your emails. If you don’t have this data now, it’s time to think about it before you begin sending email.

Often, people inherit lists from others in their organizations that came from a time when it wasn’t a big deal to keep good records. Email has changed over time in response to the abuses that are out there. Updating your records is a win for everyone.

I have had two recent experiences where lists that had substantial age on them (3+ years) now included addresses that are “spamtraps” where they weren’t previously. A spamtrap is an address that is used ONLY to catch people who are harvesting addresses from public sources. These addresses are not used by individuals anymore. We find that it is a routine practice for some services to retain addresses of former employees or other now-unused addresses for this purpose. Spamtraps can cause you major headaches. Accounts that are Return Path Certified can even face immediate suspension from the certification program until lists are cleaned.

In reconfirming these lists, the spamtrap address could not have clicked to confirm and would automatically NOT have been part of any future mailings. This would have avoided the problem entirely.

You have a new email push that is significantly different from that for which users originally signed up.

In this case, it’s time to make a hybrid of your old list.

New project? Give folks a chance to opt-in to the additional mail stream. If they aren’t interested in the latest area, then they don’t need to confirm, and they can keep getting just the emails they’ve been getting all along. You get to be the good professional in this message: “Hey! I’ve got an exciting new project coming your way that I’d like to share with you, as my long-time customer. I understand you get a lot of email, so click here to confirm that you want to see the latest. Otherwise, thank you for your business, and I look forward to continuing to communicate with you about our current service.”

This is MUCH more polite than starting something new and giving people the chance to opt-out. In fact, we’ve found that if you follow the opt-out path, you’ll wind up with too many folks just opting out of everything you do entirely by unsubscribing from your company, period.

Why? Maybe they’re not interested, or maybe they just have too much going on in their email already. Either way, err on the side of caution and use the chance to opt them in to your newest project.

How to Get Started

Sold? Ready to do more with less?

We have a tutorial that can get you started:
JangoMail Confirmed Opt-In Tutorial

Please also feel free to contact Customer Support (; 1-888-709-4099) for help! We love to hear from our customers.