6 Levels of Permission-Based Email: Marketers Find More Than Six Degrees of Separation Between Double Opt-in and Opt-out Lists
"Opt-in. Always," Holmes says. Getting permission twice may be preferable, but asking at least once is a must for marketers whose content management and customer relationship management systems don't allow for email address confirmation messages, she says.
2. Double opt-in, however, is the ideal, say Mehra and Hotz. Consumers who opt-in, then verify that choice are the most engaged and "convert at a much higher rate than single opt-in," Hotz says. He later adds, "I typically recommend the confirmed opt-in approach, as most subscribers are not yet used to looking for a link in their welcome email to confirm their subscription, and your overall subscription rate will be lower due to confirmation abandonment."
Mehra says his agency goes beyond double-opt in when working on multicultural email marketing campaigns for its Philadelphia-based client—media, entertainment and communications company Comcast. "At least once a year, it's good practice to confirm and reinforce opt-ins for increased email effectiveness," he says.
3. Monitor engagement to keep consumers opted in. Olson, who works on both B-to-B and B-to-C programs, says: "High conversion rates are about targeting good content to the right audience—one that has actively opted into receiving your content and shows interest in it by opening/clicking through, at least occasionally. In a nutshell, highly targeted content sent to highly engaged lists results in the highest number of sales."
4. Look for opt-outs within opt-in lists—possibly every six months, Foster says. "Members who have never opened a mailing are telling you that they've all but officially unsubscribed," she says, later adding: "Removing non-opens will allow you to focus on segmenting other levels of inactivity, such as members who are reading, but [are] not actively clicking or otherwise engaged."
5. Recipients' inactivity may signify another necessary action: Data hygiene. Holmes says, based on observation of clients: "Up to 30 percent of email addresses change every year. Update those emails with a change of address confirmation match or, in shorthand, ECOA."
6. An opt-out list is always a bad idea, interviewees agree. More than that, make it easy for subscribers to unsubscribe and ask them why they're doing so, Holmes says.