In order to maximize your deliverability and inboxing rates, it is essential to only send emails to recipients that want to receive your emails. There are several ways to determine if someone wants to receive your emails, but the most practical way is to simply ask if they would like to opt-in to your emails. Opt-In can mean many different things to many different people, and there are various levels of Opt-In. This article aims to describe the various types of Opt-In in descending order of best practice.
By far, the best way to maximize your inboxing rate is to solely focus on recipients that have directly opted in to receive your campaigns and have confirmed their email address via a confirmation email. This method requires recipients to visit your website and sign up through a form that explicitly sets expectations for the types and cadence of your sent emails. There should also be a checkbox that a potential recipient must check to confirm that they would like to receive future email communications.
From here, you can use marketing automation to create an automatic confirmation email that will be sent to that recipient. The confirmation email will to verify their email address and that they want to receive your communications. As a marketer, a recipient clicking this email signals that you have the go-ahead to send them relevant communication at the stated frequency in compliance with the rules you set at sign-up.
This is by far and away the first thing you should do to maximize delivery rates, to minimize spam traps, and to protect your brand and domain reputation. When you set expectations and send emails that your contacts love, they will continue to engage with your emails and better your overall sending to your entire database.
Unconfirmed Opt-In follows the same rules as the Double Opt-In procedure above, but there isn ot a confirmation email that is sent to ensure the recipient has given a valid email address. The potential recipient must still initiate the communication exchange and click a checkbox confirming they want to receive emails based on clearly set expectations on a form fill.
While not as good as Double Opt-In, Unconfirmed Opt-In still allows recipients to explicitly express their interest in your campaigns and set expectations for your sending. The risk with Unconfirmed Opt-In comes in the potential for the address they submit being either a disposable domain or a typo spam trap. If a user fills out your form with a disposable address or mistypes their address, you run the risk of sending to a dead email box. Even worse, you could send the email to a typo spam trap that can mar your domain reputation.
Forced Opt-In follows the same path as Unconfirmed Opt-In, except that the checkbox explicitly stating their desire to receive emails is pre-checked. Forced Opt-In is usually vague about the type and the cadence of emails being sent, so no expectations are set with the recipients.
The risk with Forced Opt-In includes the risk of typo spam traps, which is due to the lack of a confirmation email, but also runs the risk that recipients are not aware they are signing up for emails. While most recipients will see the checkbox and be able to determine whether they want to receive your campaigns, some may ignore that and not expect your messages when they arrive. This can lead to more unsubscribes and spam complaints. Forced Opt-In may be seen as trying to sneak opt-in confirmation from your recipients if they are not paying attention.
Forced Co-Registration is also known as a Shared Address list. It follows the same plan as the above Forced Opt-In, except that sign-ups may be shared with additional brands. This toes the line of being spam because someone who registers is only looking to receive emails from the particular brand they signed up for, and not from any other affiliates. This can lead to unexpected messages hitting the recipient’s inbox which they report as spam or unsubscribe from.
As stated, Forced Co-Registration is close to being spam, and by definition probably falls into the spam category. If a recipient has reached out to receive your campaigns, using that email to send messages irrelevant to their expressed sign-up is sending unsolicited mail. As a sender, you should focus on only providing messages relevant to the content the recipient expressly signed up for. SharpSpring does not support this type of contact collection, as you will see a significant negative impact on deliverability.
Spam, Unsolicited Sending, and Purchased Lists
No matter where the list of contacts comes from, if the recipient has not asked to receive your communications, mail sent to them is considered unsolicited. Unsolicited mail is also known as spam mail. Sending unsolicited mail has a high likelihood of resulting in being unsubscribed from, bounced, caught in a spam trap, filtered as spam, or rejected altogether. As such, your focus needs to be on only engaging those contacts who have directly opted in to receive your communications.
When a sender purchases a contact list and sends messages to that list, regardless of industry relevance or how well the list is cleaned, these messages are outright spam. There is no action by the user and zero opt-in by recipients. These are unsolicited messages that are sent to unsuspecting contacts. Regardless of the amount of cleaning or how much money was spent on this relevant list, this opt-in methodology leads to extremely low engagement and subsequent drops in domain reputation, putting you and all other senders on your shared IP set at risk.
Internet service providers (ISPs) and third-party blacklists have become increasingly effective at parsing the language in these messages and determining that they are unsolicited. This type of language will directly lead to blacklisting and higher spam boxing for these purchased list recipients, as well as other recipients being sent via your domain, even if they have opted-in.
SharpSpring considers sending to Purchased Lists as spam and against our Terms of Service. Using purchased lists will directly result in compliance measures being taken against the sender, up to termination.
There can always be room for improvement when creating your lists. In order to maximize the effectiveness of your campaign, you should attempt to be as explicit with your opt-in policy as possible. By not using Double Opt-In, you risk your sending reputation and the success of your marketing campaigns. SharpSpring includes tools to make Double Opt-In as easy as possible for you as a sender via our automation tools, so tracking opt-ins is easier than ever.