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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador bettylou's Avatar
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    Your Opinions on Mailing Lists Setup
    I have searched for this but can't seem to find quite what I am after, so I apologize if this is a redundant post.


    I am creating a new site where visitors have the option of signing up for an account. Part of this will include a newsletter. Which of these ways do you prefer when you sign up at a site:

    1) Have an opt-in box included in the sign up form. If you like this way, do you care if the box if pre-marked or not?

    2) You have to sign up separately for a newsletter.

    3) With either of these methods, I will send an email to verify. Followed by a welcome email after they click the link in the first email. Does that seem like too many emails? Would it scare you away?

    Thanks guys!

  2. #2
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    I would definitely not send a verification email for mailing list signups. I can guarantee you that it will just reduce the number of signups you get. If you have a professional email application (I happen to have my own, but this applies no matter which one you use), there is an easy to use unsubscribe at the bottom of the acknowledgment message (which, sadly, people do click on by mistake occasionally), as well as every message you send.

    With one my early mailing list clients (this was in 2001), a wine store, I figured that "double opt-in" made sense, since alcohol is a "sensitive" product. I got dozens of people who signed up and then never clicked on the "double opt in" link. The message was short and clear, but they just didn't do it. For one thing, some don't open the email, no matter what you say on your site. Others miss it entirely because of other mail. Still others don't understand, regardless of your wording.

    Only if the product set is very sensitive, if the user community is full of pranksters who sign up other people, or if a client feels he must do double opt in would I ever consider it again. My software supports it, but I don't use it!
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  3. #3
    Newbie Medge's Avatar
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    I personally don't use double opt-in (closed loop) for the same reasons posted above. It is a touchy subject, but I think closed loop is kind of reserved for a very specific audience / content matter / and very high quality lists. You will most definitely get higher open rates and possibly more responsive campaigns, but you are going to greatly reduce your list size. If you need the records, stick with single. Also, we keep the opt-in box checked by default. Either way, your audience is your own and you probably should test to see what works best for you.

  4. #4
    Manager - Affiliate Marketing Patrick Vesperman's Avatar
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    I would have the opt-in as part of the sign-up form. Make sure to include a brief description of what they can expect in the emails if they sign-up. I recommend not pre-marking. My personal take on this is that true opt-in is an action they must take to join, not an action to un-join.

    Don't send the verification email. If you are attracting the right people, you don't need it.

  5. #5
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    I'm sorry, shuvee and Medge, but I strongly disagree with your decisions to use "unconfirmed opt-in."

    Any legitimate web site uses confirmed opt-in to insure that people are not added to mailing lists without their consent. Any business that doesn't use confirmed opt-in is acting unethically, in my opinion. And perhaps equally important, any business that doesn't use confirmed opt-in is vulnerable to unethical people who may use their mailing lists to harass others.

    Without confirmed opt-in, anyone can go to your web site and insert MY contact information, and then I'll start getting your messages even though I didn't ask to receive them. In fact, when I receive those emails, I'll flag them as "spam," and I'll probably never do business with your company again (because I don't do business with spammers).

    Yes, it happens. In the 1990's, when I was a vocal critic of the most abusive spam practices, several spammers went out and "signed me up" for hundreds of "opt-in" mailing lists. It took me months to get unsubscribed from these lists.

    And your unethical competitors (and unhappy customers) are also aware of strategies to abuse your "unconfirmed opt-in" policy to damage your company further: they'll use your form to add dozens of vocal anti-spam activists to your mailing lists, insuring that your domains will be added to spam filters and blacklists, some of which are nearly impossible to correct. (Some overzealous anti-spam activists sometimes resort to more aggressive tactics, up to and including denial-of-service attacks.)

    Confirmed opt-in is the only method a legitimate, ethical business uses to manage email lists. It is also required by many ISPs, by many advertisers, and by some affiliate networks. And many other companies and business professionals refuse to do business with companies that use these unethical email marketing practices.

  6. #6
    Prince of Content Vinny O'Hare's Avatar
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    I have to agree with Mark and use a double opt in newsletter only. Your sign up rate does not decrease with it, if anything you end up with more people on the list that actually want to read your newsletter and that is gold.
    Last edited by Vinny O'Hare; January 25th, 2010 at 11:11 AM. Reason: Typo
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medge
    I personally don't use double opt-in (closed loop) for the same reasons posted above. It is a touchy subject, but I think closed loop is kind of reserved for a very specific audience / content matter / and very high quality lists. You will most definitely get higher open rates and possibly more responsive campaigns, but you are going to greatly reduce your list size. If you need the records, stick with single. Also, we keep the opt-in box checked by default. Either way, your audience is your own and you probably should test to see what works best for you.
    Without a double opt-in anybody can add any email ids they have access to without the email-id owners consent.

    All professional email mailing list systems, like aweber, constant contact, mail chimp have a mandatory double opt-in. If you move your list from one company to another, some companies will require the mailing list to reconfirmed.

    If you aren't doing double opt-in, you have o clue as to who is signing up who.

  8. #8
    Newbie Medge's Avatar
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    I totally agree with all of that. That is why this is a touchy subject, because it brings up questions of ethics and "what kind of advertiser are you?"

    It is fairly easy enough to categorize yourself and match your objectives to what kind of relationship you need to have with your customers.

  9. #9
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    As far as double opt in, I have an email account for the sole purpose of signing up for merchant newsletters, not the affiliate ones, the ones shoppers get signing up for the newsletter on the merchant site and was surprised that double opt in is just not being used much. I would venture a guess and say less than 5% of merchants use double opt in. There were some that never sent an email, some sent an email with stuff like "thanks for signing up" but ones where you actually have to click a link in an email or reply back, double opting in, less than 5%. You can test this out yourself.

    Side note, just about every merchant has a newsletter, 99% give or take a percentage point. Some make it harder where you actually have to sign up for an account first, which is annoying.

  10. #10
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    I have always used the double opt-in method... and would recommend no less.

    There are pros & cons of each, but double opt-in not only generates a higher quality list (very targeted), it clearly adheres to the CAN-SPAM act. While it's not a legal requirement, double opt-in would be considered "best practice"

    Just noticed the flurry of similar responses since I drafted my response!

  11. #11
    Manager - Affiliate Marketing Patrick Vesperman's Avatar
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    1. Why is it unethical for a merchant if someone else signs up bogus emails?
    2. There are email vendors that use other means of verification:
    - one-click unsubscribe
    - email format validation
    - hard-bounce removal, multiple soft-bounce removal
    3. Personally, it is a pain to have to verify my email when I just signed up for it. If I get an email I didn't sign up for, I simply unsubscribe. I am all about removing steps and making the customer experience easy. Verification adds a step.
    Last edited by Patrick Vesperman; January 25th, 2010 at 11:47 AM.

  12. #12
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    For marketers, double opt-in is considered the best practice. Full stop.

    Best practice doesn't make it a requirement.

    There are tons of articles out there listing the pros & cons - but only those really interested in hearing from you will double opt-in. It's a proven fact that response rates will be much higher with double opt-in.

  13. #13
    Newbie Medge's Avatar
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    Uh oh! Someone dropped the "CAN-SPAM" bomb.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medge
    Uh oh! Someone dropped the "CAN-SPAM" bomb.
    lol.. that would be me

    Since I have both a US & Intl site, I needed an overview of email list requirements when I launched my own newsletter - it still stands the test of time.

    http://www.lsoft.com/resources/optinlaws.asp

    Not that I'm a conspiracy theorist, but without double opt-in a competitor could add hundreds of email addresses to your newsletter list, which opens the door to spam complaints.

  15. #15
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    "3. Personally, it is a pain to have to verify my email when I just signed up for it."

    I forgot who it was but somebody who was very pro double opt in but then went back to the regular way for just that reason. They were saying people were signing up for newsletters but not double opting in, so they didn't want to lose them because who knows how much just one person can generate in sales over time. And with CAN SPAM, it's not a requirement.

    And when I signed up for those newsletters, and it was over 1000 merchants, I was expecting the opposite, that it would be a double opt in bonanza. But like I said, an extremely small percentage go the double opt in route.

    I like double opt in for my newsletter for a couple of reasons. First, it costs money to send them out, depending on how you do it/who you use. Second, if they double opt in, it lets me know they don't have a problem getting the newsletter. Some might not be able to because some newsletters get blocked, flagged as spam etc.

  16. #16
    Newbie Medge's Avatar
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    Again I think double opt-in is fantastic when it fits your audience and objectives. On the flip side I don't mind paying a fraction of a penny to find out if an email address is worth money to mail to it without a double opt-in (you are going to end up paying for the automated verification anyways on CPM ESPs!)...

    There is a right way and a wrong way for everyone, just have to put some thought beforehand and some testing after the fact into it and you will figure it out.

    By the way, I love that list teezone. I think I sent it to our higher-ups one time because of a two week discussion regarding permission. (not that you should use these kinds of sites for legal backbone but it was a great reference!)

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