emailOnce a gold-standard best practice, is double confirmed opt-in for email marketing programs now “outdated” and a “terrible idea”?

Email marketing veteran (and, full disclosure, personal friend) Bill McCloskey thinks so, and list a myriad of scenarios that can go wrong when marketers take this virtuous path.

I’m hardly unbiased when it comes to confirmed double opt-in. When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sought recommendations for CAN-SPAM legislation back in 2003, I testified in Washington on the virtues of confirmed double opt-in.

Plenty may have changed in email over the past six years, but not that part.

Let’s look at Bill’s fallacious arguments.

1. “What a terrible idea if you want to grow your list!”

Confirmed double opt-in lists may not be as big as their single opt-in brethren, but they’re infinitely more valuable, just as a few nuggets of gold beat a pile of pebbles, hands down. The gulf separating open and response rates between these two species of lists is a vast one, as common sense would dictate. You want the biggest list you can get? Fine. Me, I’ll take the best list I can get.

2. “With deliverability the way it is, there’s no guarantee they will even see the confirmation email.”

Right you are. And if they don’t see the confirmation email, they’re not going to see subsequent mailings, either. So get your delivery problems solved. This one’s a no-brainer. Authenticate your server and sending domain, encourage subscribers to whitelist your “from” address. None of these steps are remotely connected to double confirmed opt-in, they’re stand-alone, proven best practices.

3. The confirmation email “just might get lost.”

See above.

4. The email just might get flagged as spam by your email client and go directly into the junk file.”

Please re-read the bit about asking subscribers to whitelist your sending address in their email client.

5. “It’s tough enough out there. Why make things harder on yourself and your clients?”

Who said this was supposed to be easy? You want a big list? That’s easy. Spam. Add every email address you can lay your hands on to your lists. Buy illegal software that spiders the web to capture unwitting email addresses and blast away. You’ll soon have yourself a big, fat list – guaranteed.

But smart, ethical, dedicated marketers – the ones who want solid results from their campaigns – know size isn’t the only thing that matters.