Email marketing is the icing on the cake for many savvy businesses. The reason why is this. While search, social, affiliate, etc. can all be competitive and costly, email marketing remains one of the most efficient ways to build relationships and profitable market your business.

Email List Size Matters, But So Does Interest-Level

One of the fundamental principles in email marketing is list growth. Based on the niche, geo-restrictions, etc. of a business, size is relative. The definition of a “large” list is very different for a national e-tailer than it would be for a small local car wash. The goal with both those is to try to build the largest list possible of INTERESTED email subscribers.

Double Opt-In Pros and Cons

A double opt-in email is one where, upon sign-up, the user is then sent a confirmation email which she/he has to click to confirm email subscription. Most email marketing platforms prefer it for a number of reasons. On the marketing end though, the double opt-in email is largely debated as either a good or bad move, with little agreement on the right global approach. There are pros and cons to it, let’s review them.


There are a few main reasons for which an email marketer would choose to implement or switch to forcing double opt-ins. Primarily, the goal of the double opt-in is to improve long-term list quality and deliverability. The “are you sure” approach of double opt-in forces the user/lead/prospect to rethink the list subscription. Those who go forward with it, theoretically, are more committed to the cause.

Over the long-haul and in-scale, the impact can be huge as subscribers may be more likely to stay on the last, open emails, interact, etc., all of which are signals to ESPs (email service providers like gmail) that the relationship is relevant and thus, emails stay deliverable. One of the biggest challenges with optimally managing large email lists is deliverability and the double opt-in is a good first step in the eyes of some savvy marketers.


The main downside to implementing a double opt-in email is subscription drop-off. While 100 people may subscribe to a list, sometimes as few as 25 will take the next step and double opt-in. It’s clear that the list size in the long run could severely suffer.

Is It Better to Require Double Opt-in?

It’s easy to see what there is so much debate as whether or not to implement double opt-in functions. For the data driven marketer, it would take extremely large volume and time to A/B different approaches so that’s not usually an option.

It’s hard to say that either one way or the other is better for all. As a raw observation, if your email strategy is churn and burn (build fast, try to sell, and then get unsubscribes), probably best not to require a double opt-in. However, established brands who want long term customer relations (re-purchases), may do best requiring the double opt-in and following email marketing best practices to ensure deliverability and making the list as productive as it can be, no matter what the size is.

A Third Alternative

In some cases, e-marketers choose to ask for double opt-in, but not require it. In other words, the double opt-in request gets sent. Those who double opt-in are then segmented away from those who do not. In this case, it’s possible to market to each group differently. For example, email the non double opt-ins less often, or from another service/IP address and to maintain a good reputation with the double opt-ins.

Your thoughts: Is it better to require double opt-in?