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AP 0435: Is It Okay to Use Single Opt-In for Email Marketing?

AP 0435: Is It Okay to Use Single Opt-In for Email Marketing?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 435 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: What is up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Session 435 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you to everybody who attended FinCon or the Financial Blogger Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am back home. I had to do a presentation about Periscope. Just an amazing community and an amazing conference, always put on by Philip Taylor over from I just wanted to give him a quick shout out and congratulate him again on yet another wonderful year.

FinCon is headed to San Diego next year, so maybe those of you who are listening to this right now if you are interested in attending, head on over to, and I look forward to seeing you there. I might be doing something a little bit before that event to meet up with the other SPI community members. Just keep posted for that.

I also want to thank Michael for today’s question, but before we get to Michael’s question, I also want to thank today’s sponsor, which is, making it super easy for all of us out there who are building our small businesses to keep track of our finances. Obviously, it is very important to do that. I only wish I knew that earlier because I was using Excel when I first started out. It became such a headache when I was trying to figure out, “Well, what are the trends and what is the health of my business?” And especially, come tax season, it was just really difficult for me to send that information in that spread sheet to my CPA in a way that was easily read. Whereas with FreshBooks, it is just a couple clicks, and you get all the reports that you need, and you can see exactly how everything is going. If you want to check out FreshBooks to help you manage your small business, like it’s helping three million other small business owners, head on over to and enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. Again that’s GetFreshBooks, enter “Ask Pat.”

Here’s today’s question from Michael.

Michael: Hey Pat, I want to reach out. I had a question on something I really can’t find too much information on. It seems like it would be a big deciding factor on your email marketing campaign. This question is regarding single opt-in versus double opt-in for email marketing. I know the industry standard is to really go with the double opt-in just to ensure that your users really do want to hear from you and plan to interact. I’m sure you’re going to have some users who don’t interact and . . . the sale going with that single opt-in, but it just seems like that, in my mind, is the best way to go, just because it’s the sheer numbers. I think with the double opt-in problem, it’s really just the missed opportunities, and I really think that just boils down to people have good intentions but are simply forgetful sometimes. I do plan going on with the single opt-in with email list, but my only concern is, and I want to get your opinion on this. Does this run the risk of having more emails sent to the junk folders? I know some email providers use that two-way email interaction as proof that we’re not scamming. I wanted to see if that is something that you’ve heard and maybe tested before. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate everything that you do, Pat.

Pat Flynn: Hey Michael. Thank you so much for the question. This is very relevant. I want to get everybody ready because October is going to be all about email marketing on the Smart Passive Income blog. Head on over to, make sure you subscribe, or just check it out especially if you’re listening, or are in the future beyond October 2015 because it is email marketing month. I have a lot of great content already written and pre-recorded for all of you out there who are really focused on your email marketing. It’s one of the most important things out there for your business no matter what kind of business or platform you have. It is the number one most requested thing that you all wanted to know about. I recently did a survey, and that’s what you told you. This is a great foundational question, so thank you for this Michael.

Single opt-in versus double opt-in. For those of you who don’t know, the single opt-in is when people subscribe to your list and they are already automatically subscribed to your list. They are on record on your database that you can then send automated emails to or broadcast emails to after that point at which they subscribe. A double opt-in means they choose to subscribe, so they might put their name and/or email address and maybe a few other things on your website, hit submit, and then they get an email back that says, “Click on this link in this email. We just wanted to make sure that you were a real person. Click to confirm that you are indeed wanting to subscribe to this list.” When they click on that link in the mail, then it actually becomes a record in that database as somebody who is subscribing to the list.

The double opt-in might seem like it’s too many steps. We all know that the more steps that one needs to take, the more likely somebody is to drop out during that process. However, the email marketing double opt-ins have become the standard because of what it does for your open rates, your spam rates, and just knowing that somebody on the other end is actually somebody who wants to be there. Now the con to that is something I already just mentioned. You send an email, they might not get it, they might not check it right away, and they might not just be on your list because they haven’t actually clicked the link in that email to opt-in.

Which one is better? Well, I’ve done a number of interviews with a number of different people who like one, and then a number of interviews and had conversations with people who like the other. There is no right answer. There are pros to the single opt-in as well, which is of course people just automatically get on your list. You’ll have higher numbers, but your open rates will be less because sometimes people just subscribe to get your lead magnet and that’s it, and once they get that they’re out. Then they just become a dead record on your list which you probably and most likely pay for because you pay per record or email subscriber.

At the same time, it really can hurt you in terms of your spam scores like you had mentioned. I had just done an interview with Ryan Levesque and he told me this. He actually came back on after I interviewed him to tell me the strategy which was to make sure to try and do whatever you can to have people interact with your emails, and doing so with the double opt-in in the click is a great first step. Plus, if you set it up up-front and tell them an email is coming your way . . . for example, when they click on that submit button, they go to a thank you page that says, “You’re almost there. An email is sent to your in box right now. Click on that email and then you will get your free lead magnet or free offer, free video or free e book.” Whatever it is you promised them on the other end. Those are two strategies you can use to increase the likelihood that somebody is going to click on that link in that confirmation email.

To recap, one is to send them to a thank you page which most email service providers will allow you to do, and give you that option, default. Most of them send to a thank you page that is based off of that email service provider. AWeber, for example, the default is to when people subscribe, AWeber sends them a thank you page or redirects them to a thank you page that is on AWeber that says, “Thank you. An email has been sent to your email address. Please click on that link.” The best thing you could do is have them subscribe and change it up in your email service provider so it goes to a special landing page, a thank you page that you create which makes that experience better. It keeps it on your website as well, but again it primes them because it says, “An email is sent to your inbox. Go open it.” You can even be a ninja and actually show a screenshot of that email with big red circle around that link so people know exactly what they need to click on. Then they are more likely to open it because of that. The second thing is to have a lead magnet on the other end, which they would only get access to if they were to click on that opt-in link.

That’s that. You might be wondering, “Well Pat, just tell me which one is better: single opt-in or double opt-in.” I prefer double opt-in. You’re going to have to test this over time and you can change things up. It’s just a couple clicks of a button or one click of a button, why would you want to click it twice? Typically in the email service providers that you use, it’s just an on and off switch. You can change it up and see and keep track over time to see which one perhaps converts better. Maybe you’ll get more subscribers and it’s enough to make up for the loss in open rates, or perhaps the ability for your emails to go into the spam folders. Yes, it can happen. Those interactions are really important, and again those are a couple of strategies you can use to increase the likelihood that somebody is going to opt-in.

There will be a certain percentage of people who don’t click on that link in that email, who don’t even see it for whatever reason. There are ways to extract those emails from your email service providers so you can see these people wanted to subscribe, but they just didn’t get that email. You can reach out to them later to have them do that or resubscribe. Those are, again, another strategy you can use, but I like the double opt-in because it just proves that list is going to be much stronger. Yes, you will likely have less email subscribers as a result, maybe not too much less, but again it depends.

This is not a quantity game. Email marketing is actually not a quantity game. Although we want to make it that, we want to say when you go to conferences, “How big is your email list?” It becomes this indicator of how successful your business is doing. “Oh, how big is your email list?” Well, that is not a good indicator. The indicator is how strong is your email list. The open rates and all those sorts of things are really important. Even open rate is actually one of those vanity metrics as well. What really matters is the number of people who are clicking on those links in those emails that you send in your broadcasts and in your auto-responders, and when you get people to double opt-in up front, you are more likely going to have a higher percentage rate with those clicks. That’s what really matters. It’s not about the size. It’s about the strength.

That’s what I want to leave you with, Michael. Thank you so much for this question. I wish you all the best, and I look forward to sending you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show. Thank you so much. For those of you who have a question that you would like potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to You can ask it right there on that page thanks to the widget from Speakpipe.

I also want to thank today’s sponsor which is serving over three million small business owners, and they can help serve you too, making your life so much easier whether you are just starting out or you have been managing your finances for a while. Check out FreshBooks because it makes it super easy, and of course they also have an amazing invoicing system where if you are sending emails to people asking to get paid for certain services that you’ve provided. Maybe you’re a freelancer or you coach people or you’re a consultant, for example. It just makes it super easy and very professional-looking, so you can get paid much faster and focus more on what you need to do to grow your business. Check it out for free for 30 days. Head on over to get and enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. Again that’s, enter “AskPat.”

Thank you so much for checking in with me today. I look forward to serving you tomorrow. Before we go here is quote from Anne Frank. She says, “How wonderful is it that nobody need to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

I love that quote. You can start right now. Cheers. Take care. I’ll see you in the next episode of AskPat. Bye.

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