If you’ve recently set up your new account with an ESP (email service provider), then you’re probably already familiar with the words “double opt-in.”
We at MyTeamConnects recommend it for building your email list and are adopting this method now.
The idea behind a double opt-in is, pure and simple, PERMISSION. The permission concept is at least a decade old. The phrase permission marketing, coined by Seth Godin back in the 90s (yikes! that seems like an eternity) is every bit as relevant today as it was when email marketing was in its infancy.
You might say permission marketing is even more important now for email. I try to follow the news regarding internet laws as closely as I can, but I’m certainly not an expert. (Please take my words with as much salt as you’d like — this is just my opinion). I pay attention when the US Congress starts talking about Do-Not-Track issues surrounding behavior-based Internet marketing AND when it holds hearings with Google about what basically amounts to maintaining a level playing field across the web for all marketers and websites.
For as long as the web has been connecting us, this is mostly uncharted territory that we as consumers and as marketers have yet to work out. I tend to think that if Internet marketers take the initiative to present and inform visitors of their rights and benefits, then the Internet will remain a place to find what you need in the quickest, most equitable way.
People like ‘easy.’ People like convenience. Some people enjoy a personal and smart Internet experience that already knows their preferences via past navigation, purchases and site visits. (I’m one, generally.) But the issue of privacy will need much more discussion and debate before a far reaching solution is reached. Personally, I’m hoping the free markets find a way to solve this consumer/marketing issue before too much government bureaucracy gets in the way — or we will lose the Internet we know and love forever.
Permission Goes Hand-in Hand With the Can-SPAM Act:
Regarding email marketing; permission (the opt-in and double opt-in) is such an entrenched policy within email marketing that it saves a newbie a lot of confusion with this widely accepted method for list-building. In addition, thanks to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, email marketers have an additional guide for compliance. If we understand and follow the SPAM laws when we send email, then legally we’re in good shape.
Ironically, the CAN-SPAM law does not require a sender to obtain permission before sending marketing messages. The permission guidelines loosely established within the email marketing world simply take email marketing to a higher level. If we follow generally prescribed practices surrounding email marketing, beginning with an opt-in or double opt-in (the best choice); then we will enjoy the benefits of a “white list” — one that yields customer involvement across many channels; and ultimately an increase in sales.
May I interject how nicely email marketers figured this out ourselves without the threat of legal punishment. Permission marketing is actually GOOD for marketers and consumers, both.
How to Avoid SPAMMING people: A User’s Guide
Here’s the rub: people may sign on to your list just to get a free report or what have you, and still have their own personal ideas about what permission is, and what SPAM is. So in spite of your best efforts to deliver on your end of the deal, you’re going to get some SPAM complaints; you may think it’s unfair, but just deal with it. It’s a diverse crowd out there, so an email marketer has to be sensitive to this issue.
I’ll never forget the time we talked to a new email customer of ours while her employee sat nearby offering his insights : ” Oh, SPAM… I get it…You’re going to start spamming people!” he said with a knowing skepticism. “Well, no, not at all,” was my initial response. We never SPAM people…Or do we?
One person’s email marketing is another person’s SPAM. So how do you differentiate?
A double opt-in is a good place to start.
Think of the speech-writer’s rule: “First you tell them what you’re going to tell them, then you tell them, then you tell them what you just told them.” The same goes for your opt-in.
A three-step plan is in order — and by the way, your email service provider should offer a way to set this up:
You might even show your subscriber an example of a newsletter or email that you will be sending, This shows your reader what to expect so she can decide beforehand if she wants to receive it on a regular basis.
Tell your subscriber how often you’ll be sending her an email, too. Again, it’s all about establishing expectations and showing that you can follow through with a fairly simple promise.
Second: Once they sign up, what happens next?
Bing! Your first email lands in the inbox of your new subscriber. Now go back to step one and lay it on the line — again.
- Welcome them
- Remind them of what they’ll receive and when
- Ask them to verify that yes, they are down with all of that — and…
- Have them click a link back to your site.
- You might also remind them to add your address (the one from which you’ll be sending your emails) to their safe sender’s list.
Third: The link is clicked, “Yes, they really do want to subscribe to your list.” Hurray! Now for some jaw-dropping email list-building news. There are at least two types of subscribers: The rare one who wants to be a subscriber for at about 10 minutes so they can get whatever freebie you’ve offered (no need to be Polyanna about it; maybe you’ve done it too?) And the rest, who are sincerely open to the materials you’ve promised in the above two steps…so make sure you deliver your very best content, especially at the beginning!
Welcome them. Show them around. Tell them what to do next. Make them feel welcome at your site. It’s up to you how you want to initiate your relationship.
If it’s information you’re sharing or selling, show them the ropes with an explanation of future releases and where and when they can expect to get future installments or classes. If you have a bricks and mortar store you’d like them to visit, you might want to let them know where you’re located and when they should drop in for a great deal. Each business will have to put its best foot forward becuase, trust me: As easy as it is to subscribe to your list — it’s even easier to unsubscribe!
In fact, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, when you send that first email (and every one thereafter) to your new subscriber, one element you must include is a very obvious “unsubscribe” button. Remember, permission is in the eye of the beholder — and your beholder may withhold it at any time. But make your new subscriber’s experience amazing and even the reluctant 10-minute subscriber may stick around for awhile.
While we’re on the subject, why not sign up for my free video copywriting course now? Along with 21 60-second videos covering my top writing tips, you’ll get a newsletter every week. Email articles and copywriting insights to connect with your best customers and make more money without all that hype-y sales stuff. Give it a try.
Written by Jen McGahan