Single Opt-In vs. Double Opt-In: Is There a Clear Winner?



Adding more subscribers is good for business. More subscribers equals more exposure, which often leads to more sales. But growing your subscriber list isn’t always easy, and it’s important to remember that quality beats quantity in most situations, even when short-term results may suggest otherwise.

Thanks to CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing), CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law) and most recently GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), there are very clear rules and regulations around how email marketers can build their subscriber lists. However, these rules are different depending on where your emails are being sent, so it is imperative for you to understand each if you are sending multi-national emails.

Despite specific rules surrounding how subscribers’ express consent to receiving emails from a new sender, email marketers still have autonomy over using a double or single opt-in process. While many financial institutions or other businesses that hold large quantities of personal data often use double opt-in processes for security reasons, e-commerce and marketing companies may be less inclined to do so. Here are the pros and cons of each method:

Quantity vs. Quality

As mentioned before, quality should typically supersede quantity when it comes to your subscriber list. While a single opt-in process often results in a higher number of subscribers, these additions may be of lesser quality than those who go through a double opt-in process. The reasoning is simple: those who complete the double opt-in process are more committed to receiving your emails. Because of this, using a double opt-in process generally helps maintain cleaner lists. More

Customers vs. Less Customers

While double opt-in produces more engaged and responsive subscribers, it typically produces fewer potential customers. Though engagement rates rise due to double opt-in, brands must consider that gross revenue generated from the list may be less than if they would have used a single opt-in process.

High Cost vs. Low Cost

Single opt-in produces more subscribers, but a larger list will cost you more depending on your service provider. If your fee to send is based on a cost per thousand emails deployed, you may consider if it’s worth the money to communicate to a higher number of low-quality subscribers rather than emailing less people overall, but putting the money towards higher quality subscribers.

If your brand can go either way with its opt-in process, it may come down to the overall goal of your email marketing campaigns. If the sole purpose of your campaigns is to drive attention to new products or services and increase overall revenue, especially in the short-term, then you might stick to a single opt-in process. If your primary goal is to slowly but steadily build a loyal and engaged subscriber list that is built on quality, your strategy will be better bolstered with a double-opt in process.

Take the time to understand the functionality of both options and configure your campaign accordingly. Happy list building!