How to Shepherd New Email Subscribers through a Double Opt-In

double opt-in

In social media, it takes just a single click to like or follow a business.

In email marketing, subscription is a multi-step process – especially if you follow double opt-in standards. You must ensure that would-be subscribers don’t change their minds, get distracted, or just plain give up before reaching the finish line.

To badly paraphrase Jules from Pulp Fiction, it’s on you to shepherd would-be subscribers through the valley of distraction. Only then will you truly become your subscribers’ keeper and the finder of fresh email addresses.

The email subscription process varies by email service provider (ESP). In this post, we’ll use the double-opt-in process and verbiage from Mailchimp, which is one of my four free small business apps.

As we explore the process, keep in mind that your key goal at each step is to A) reinforce the benefits of signing up and B) communicate what’s coming next in the signup process. Here we go… !

Signup Form

Mailchimp’s definition: The signup form is the first step in the double opt-in process. A potential subscriber fills out your signup form and clicks Subscribe.

Matt’s tips: Give your customers a reason to sign up. For example, you might offer fashion tips and occasional discounts. Assure them you’ll respect their inbox by not selling their email address to third parties or by sending too often.

Finally, ask for just as much info as you need and no more. You’ll want their name and email, obvi. Just don’t ask for more data than you’ll actually use. Phone number, ZIP code, and gender are nice to have, but don’t let excessive fields scare off your would-be subscriber.

Signup “Thank You” Page

Mailchimp’s definition: After the subscriber fills out your signup form, the signup “thank you” page tells them to check their email for a confirmation message.

Matt’s tips: Your new subscriber is not actually subscribed yet. Make sure they know that they need to click on the double opt-in confirmation email in their inbox in order to complete their subscription.

Double Opt-in Confirmation Email

Mailchimp’s definition: Inside the confirmation email, the subscriber will see a link to confirm their subscription. To be added to your list, they must click the link. If they skip this step, they won’t be added to your list.

Matt’s tips: Mailchimp and most reputable ESPs require confirmation of subscription via a double opt-in process. Completing the signup form is the first opt-in. The second opt-in is clicking on the double opt-in confirmation email.

Your subscriber may not see this email immediately. Although it’ll be sitting in their inbox, they may not log in. Remind them of the reward at the end of the process. They’re one click away from the finish line!

Confirmation “Thank You” Page

Mailchimp’s definition: After they click the link in the confirmation email, this page will appear to tell them they’ve successfully joined your list. Behind the scenes, we collect and store the subscriber’s IP address and the date and time of confirmation in their subscriber profile.

Matt’s tips: This one is pretty straight forward. Thank them for subscribing and then invite them to browse your online shop or follow you on social media.

Final “Welcome” Email

Mailchimp’s definition: This email is disabled by default, but you can enable a final welcome email at any time. The subscriber would receive this email after they’ve confirmed their subscription.

Matt’s tips: Enable it! A lot of folks skip the welcome email and that’s a HUGE missed opportunity. Once you build your welcome email, you never have to touch it again. Just set and forget. That’s automation, Holmes.

Plus, the welcome email is your first opportunity to deliver on the reward you promised and maybe even drive a sale with a “welcome” promo code. If you are offering a promo code, be sure to dangle that like a carrot at every step of the double opt-in process.

After all, a good shepherd knows how to motivate his flock.

Do you require new email subscribers to double opt-in?

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About the Author

Matt Simpson

Matt is a freelance writer for The DRIVE blog with expertise in digital marketing, social media, and copywriting. He's been recognized by AdWeek, Mashable, and more for digital innovation. Visit Matt's website or follow Matt on Twitter.

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