confirmed opt in

Do This! (Not That) For Better Email Delivery

By Crystal Gouldey

Email marketing tactics and food have a few things in common. There’s the good, the bad, and the people that try to make the bad look good for you.

The food industry has resources like the Eat This, Not That book to guide you, but what about email marketing? With all the different tactics out there, it’s hard to know what will help you and what will hurt you.

That will be changing today with AWeber’s “Do This, Not That” approach to Email Marketing.

We’ll kick it off with some of the worst list management mistakes that could be hurting your email deliverability, and what you should be doing instead.

Send Only to Those Who Requested Your Information

What this is: You cannot did NOT request YOUR information, and you don’t even know how their email addresses were originally obtained. You’d be spamming them.

Another danger is obtaining stale or invalid email addresses. Your message may be filtered because of this, reducing your deliverability rate.

Do this instead:

  • Build your list organically.
    You can put up a web form on your website so subscribers can sign up if they want to be on your mailing list. You can also include links to sign up on social media sites like Facebook. And don’t forget if you have a store to include a sign up sheet at the register!

Check out how we invite people to subscribe on Facebook:

Don’t Assume Permission- Ask For It!

What this is: Subscribers skip the confirmation message and just start getting your emails.

There are some worries that confirmed opt-in makes the sign up process harder for the subscriber. But if you don’t have confirmed opt in on, you run the risk of again getting bad email addresses on your list. You’ll also open yourself up to more spam complaints, and subscribers who aren’t as interested in your company.

Do this instead:

  • Send a customized confirmation message.
    Set up a customized confirmation that explains to subscribers what’s going on. You’ll have a list of subscribers who want your information and are much less likely to complain.

Here’s what a good confirmation message looks like:

Don’t Ignore Your Complaint Rate

What this is: A complaint is recorded when a subscriber marks one of your broadcast messages as spam.

A subscriber who complains will be automatically unsubscribed from your list in AWeber, which may lead to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. However, consistent complaints hurt your reputation and your deliverability rate will go down.

Occasional complaints may be inevitable, but that’s never an excuse to look into what you could be doing better.

Do this instead:

  • Make sure you are properly setting expectations.
    Does your web form clearly state what they are signing up for? Do you have a welcome message that details your email plans? You can lower your complaint rate by ensuring subscribers know what they will be getting from you and how often you will be sending them messages.

Here’s an example of a form that sets expectations:

Don’t Push Down the Unsubscribe Link

What this is: Using space or unnecessary text to push down the unsubscribe link. This makes the unsubscribe link hard to find.

If subscribers want to leave your list, you should let them! Otherwise you will run into spam complaints which can hurt your reputation and deliverability.

It will also mean your list contains subscribers who aren’t really interested in your emails. If they’re not interested, they won’t be interacting with your emails.

Don’t fall for the idea subscribers may “accidentally unsubscribe”. It’s not going to happen. The unsubscribe link takes subscribers to a new page where they will need to actually choose the unsubscribe option. Hiding the link is just not worth the risk.

Do this instead:

  • Put a link to unsubscribe at the TOP of your message.
    Including some text such as “If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please click here to unsubscribe” is a much better approach. Subscribers will appreciate that you respect their time and attention.

Here’s what it can look like:

Coming Up Next: The “Do This! (Not That)” Approach to Creating Emails

In the next part of the series, you’ll learn the worst mistakes you can make when creating and sending emails. Find out if you’re doing one of these mistakes, and what you can do to fix it!

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Fill out the form below to join our blog newsletter and we’ll drop you a line when the next part of the “Do This, Not That” series is online.

We’ll also periodically send you the other email marketing tips we publish here. The blog newsletter goes out twice per week.

Naturally, as a permission-based email marketing company, we respect your privacy.

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What To Do With Your Confirmation Message

By Crystal Gouldey

You hear it’s part of “best practices” in email marketing. ISPs refer to it as an “industry standard”. It can also help you avoid blocklists and increase deliverability. It’s called “confirmed opt-in”.

Using confirmed opt-in helps ensure you have real subscribers who are interested in what you’re offering. The stumbling block for most people is creating a confirmation message that gets the subscriber to confirm.

The confirmation is a crucial step in the subscriber sign up process. To help you out, we have a couple of examples that demonstrate how you can approach this.


Where the Confirmation Message Fits In

The confirmation message is sent immediately after a subscriber is added to your list. Once it’s sent, the subscriber needs to:

1. Open the message. If the subscriber doesn’t open the email, they won’t get the link to confirm. Make sure you have a customized subject line that will let your subscriber know they need to take action.

2. Click to confirm. If the subscriber doesn’t click on the confirmation link, they won’t be able to receive any more messages.

Customized Confirmation Messages You Can Learn From

Confirmation Message: Moving subscribers into a new list

If you have a list of subscribers you have already been in contact with, you will need to import them in your new list. The subscribers will need to confirm to remain on your list, so your confirmation message could look something like Science North’s:

What should I do if I’m adding a list of my current subscribers?

  • Be open with your subscribers. Explain why they are getting a confirmation message, especially if they were unaware a move was going to happen. Marketing transparently will build subscribers’ trust in you.
  • Emphasize that if they still want to be on your list, they will need to confirm. If they’re still a subscriber, they’re most likely still enjoying your emails. Make sure they realize they need to take action.

Confirmation Message: Subscribers coming in from web form

If subscribers are going to your site and filling out a form, your confirmation message could look something like The Bee Folks’:

What should I do for subscribers coming in through my form?

  • Ensure they realize they requested this information. Make sure your from name matches what is on the site so the subscriber can easily recognize your message.
  • Get their interest so they want to confirm. You can encourage them to confirm by reminding them of the incentive or content you promised them.

Another Way to Optimize the Confirmation Process

You’ve customized the confirmation message, but the sign-up process is still not as smooth as you’d like. Back up a bit, and look at what the subscriber will see before the confirmation message: your thank you page.

After the subscriber fills out the web form, they’re immediately directed to a thank you page. You can make this page a custom page with detailed instructions.

Use the thank you page to:

  • add you to their address book.
  • Show what the confirmation message will look like and point out what they’ll need to click. This can be done by taking a screen shot and using an image editing program like Skitch or GIMP to mark up the image.

You also have the option to use the Smart Video Thank You Page. This is an AWeber-hosted page that’s customized with your logo and plays a video with an example of how your confirmation message may look to your subscriber in their inbox.

How Do You Get People to Confirm?

What have you done to your confirmation message and sign up process to ensure subscribers know what to do and are compelled to take action?

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Confirmed Opt-In Protects Against Spamza and Other Malicious Sites

By Justin Premick

In the many discussions I’ve had about Confirmed Opt-In, and why it’s key for anyone doing email marketing, there’s one point I’ve found many people just don’t believe:

When you run your campaigns as single opt-in, you run the risk of people or scripts maliciously signing up other people’s email addresses to your list – meaning you’re spamming them.

Unintentionally, yes, but it’s still spamming, because that person who you’re now emailing never signed himself/herself up to your list.

For many people, the idea that someone would use their signup form to sign up someone else’s email address just makes no sense.

Well, you’re right – it doesn’t make sense.

But it happens, sometimes on a grand scale.

Spamza: How One Site Created A Lot of Spam Problems for Single Opt-In Email Campaigns

Recently, email marketers had a scare thrown into them by the website

Spamza promoted itself as a site that allowed people to “spam their enemies” by entering an email address into a web form.

Spamza then took the email addresses entered and subscribed them to hundreds of email newsletters.


Spamza is no longer online (although they are apparently looking for new hosting), but you can see a screenshot of their homepage below (click for full-size version).

Spamza Homepage - Click for Full Size

Scary Stuff – If You Run a Single Opt-In List

What if your email newsletter were one of the ones Spamza signed addresses up to?

Well, if you were running your campaign using Confirmed Opt-In, anyone added to the Spamza form would get your confirm email. The owners of those addresses would either delete that individual message or mark it as spam. And that would be the end of it.

If, on the other hand, you were using single opt-in, you’d have quite a problem on your hands.

  • Your list size would be artificially inflated with uninterested subscribers – lowering your click and open rates
  • Your subsequent email newsletters would get more complaints as the owners of the addresses added to your list started marking your messages as spam.
  • You could show up on URL blacklists (based on links that appear in your messages) – meaning future emails with your website in them could be blocked, even if they were sent by other people (like your affiliates) or if they were transactional messages (like payment notifications or responses to customer support tickets).
  • Perhaps worst of all, your target audience could label you as a spammer (which could lead them to persuade others not to do business with you, online or offline).

“Sure – But I Use Single Opt-In, And I Wasn’t Affected. That Stuff Just Won’t Happen To Me.”

I hope not – and I mean that sincerely. I don’t want to see any of that stuff listed above happen to you.

But is hoping that it won’t happen to you really a prudent way to run your business?

Anne Mitchell, founder of email accreditation firm ISIPP, had this to say:

[E]ven if it isn’t Spamza – in fact, even if it isn’t a targeted effort – people enter the wrong email addresses in web sign-up forms all the time. Sometimes it’s by accident (they typo their own email address and the result is someone else’s email address), but often it’s on purpose.

The fact is, malicious subscriptions are quite real, and if you’re not confirming subscribers, your email deliverability could be threatened by a script like Spamza’s.

More Coverage Of Spamza

  1. ZDNet
  2. Word To The Wise

It’s a weird, wild Internet we do business on. Better to protect yourself than to run the risk of some knucklehead taking advantage of your single opt-in signup process.

(If you’re still on the fence about confirming your subscribers, check out these common Confirmed Opt-In Myths.)