With spam constituting 90% of all emails in circulation at any given time, it is imperative that you are able to differentiate your small business from the endless variety of criminal spammers and phishers which have been giving email marketing a bad name from the time that the first low-life started trolling through ARPANET to accumulate email addresses in the Seventies.
The best way to do so is to scrupulously ensure that all of the individual email addresses on your marketing newsletter subscription list have been accumulated through strict adherence to email best practices, first among them the security and legitimacy of the double opt-in system.
100 million emails overnight?
Spammers have built empires on their process of firing off millions or even billions of emails to email address lists that they have bought, rented, or even harvested directly from the cyberether by the use of various spiders and bots which seek out any instances of [email protected] appearing anywhere on the internet.
While it may be tempting to think that you can emulate their efforts and have a hundred million people aware of your marketing message by tomorrow morning, you’ll have to face the consequences: At best the ISPs which route traffic up and down the internet will place you on a sending blacklist which will prevent you from even sending the latest baby pictures to Grandma in Oregon; and at worst you’ll be spending time in the federal penitentiary.
Double opt-in is the ethical standard
Since neither of those scenarios are what could even remotely be termed desirable, your harnessing of the double opt-in subscription becomes the pivotal point of an entire email marketing campaign which boosts your small business reputation while providing you with an ever burgeoning volume of engaged and enthusiastic customers. When you implement double opt-in, when a customer signs up to your email campaign subscription list their address is not immediately loaded onto your mailing list.
An automatic email is triggered to be sent to the customer’s address requesting a confirmation. If the prospect responds to this email by clicking on a link which leads to a specific page on your website where you thank them for subscribing and provide information on your small business newsletter, then they are added. However, if they fail to click on that link, then their email address will not be placed on your subscription list.
Are you sure you really want it?
At first the neophyte small business email marketer may ask why they would have to have the customer reconfirm twice. After all, isn’t this a bit like making a sale at a brick and mortar retail store, getting the debit or credit card swipe, handing the cash register receipt to the client, but holding back on bagging the product purchased until they swipe their card again just to make absolutely sure that they really want to pay for it?
Subscribers are fickle
While a customer who buys a product at a store is clearly demonstrating their desire to take that item home by paying for it, email subscription prospects tend to be a bit more fickle. Many of them will sign up for your small business email newsletter and then proceed to mark it as Spam once it arrives.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that they changed their minds, or were expecting something else, or the planets hadn’t lined up properly, but the marking of your email marketing campaign newsletters as Junk can have some very detrimental effects on your overall online reputation, and it is something that should be avoided as the modern day equivalent of the Digital Plague.
Double opt-in may not boost your overall subscription list numbers as techniques which are less strict, but you can rest assured that the number of email subscribers on your list will be of much higher quality. That translates into positive feedback and sales!
About the Author
Denise Keller is COO and Co-Founder of Benchmark Email, a global email marketing service that gives free email marketing accounts to small businesses. She writes for Business Insider, American Express OPEN Forum, and other major Websites.