MarTech Hacks – When You Have to Use Email Double Opt-in

There is a fair amount of discussion recently about using email double opt-in, the process whereby a visitor who submits an opt-in subscription form receives a verifying email from the third-part Email Service Provider (ESP). (Note: for this article, we are going to lump CRM and marketing automation systems in with traditional ESP’s and refer to all of them as ESPs). No matter what position you take, many Marketers take the double approach, and many ESP’s, fearful of losing trusted server status, are encouraging its use.

There really is no question that introducing another step into the opt-in process where the Visitor must find an email and make a decision can impact the opt-in rate, that’s simply common sense. The question is, by how much, and can you reduce the fallout?

Yes, you can. The guidelines are simple and well known:

  • Set the Visitor’s expectation. Tell them to expect the email and describe what it will look like.
  • Reinforce the upside. Remind the Visitor of the valuable product he/she will receive by opting in.
  • ASK for the action. Tell Visitors that they MUST click the link to receive the value.
  • Ensure that the Visitor receives the value as soon as possible following opt-in confirmation

Marketers know that they don’t have to use the ESP’s generic landing page following form submission, or the generic confirmation page following the double opt-in. They can redirect both of these page requests to pages on their own websites and reduce the risks of inaction or recidivism with good online selling techniques mirroring our advice above. But there is more to be done.

Here’s the MarTech hack

There are actually two today:

  • Many ESPs will repeat the form submission data to the landing page following form submission in a POST string. It is possible for a Web Developer to include a small piece of PHP (or other) code in the landing page that picks up the form values and inserts them in the page HTML. So, instead of “Thank you for your submission”, the Visitor sees “David, thanks for joining our community! There’s just one more thing you need to do in order to get your Online Selling Guide”. In this case the Visitor’s first name and the product they are expecting to get for opting in are pulled from the POST string and repeated in the text of the landing page. This coding is really straightforward for a Developer if one is available. Engaging Visitors in this way keeps them involved and motivated to complete the process.
  • Generic confirmation emails from the ISP can be pretty dry and non-committal. These can be accessed by the Marketer in most cases and personalized with the company’s brand and insertions similar to what can be done on the confirmation page. Because the landing and confirmation pages exist on the Marketer’s website and the confirmation email must be edited form the ISP’s interface, many Marketers just allow the generic email to be sent. This is missing a vital opportunity to keep the Visitor engaged.

It is very important to remember that these are confirmation opportunities, not selling opportunities. Now is not the time to get more information, or cross sell/upsell. Indeed, many landing pages remove main navigation and all but the most essential branding. The goal is to keep the Visitors focused on the reasons to opt-in. Until they do that there can be no conversation.