Knowledge Base/Knowledge Base/Antispam

What Makes Confirmed Opt-In an Industry Standard?

AWeber - Matt H
posted this on July 26, 2012 03:24 PM

The mutual goal of responsible email marketers, the permission only email service providers who send their messages on their behalf, and the ISPs who ultimately deliver the email is to transmit email messages only to people who have requested to receive information.

One of the standards that has evolved out of the cooperation of these parties to meet the goal is Confirmed Opt-In.

But because there is no single universally followed "book of best email practices" it is sometimes argued that Confirmed Opt-in is not really the standard way to ensure permission.

Fortunately, there are plenty of examples that show it really is something all email marketers should be using. This article provides just a few of the many we might find.

Experienced, Successful Email Marketers Use Confirmed Opt-In

It may be true that neglecting to use Confirmed Opt-in for the short term may work without an immediate hitch. But most of us are looking to use email marketing to benefit our businesses for the long-haul.

Confirmed Opt-In ensures that we can use it now, in the relatively young years of email, throughout the entire lives of our marketing campaigns and businesses.

AWeber Uses Confirmed Opt-In

Not only has AWeber been offering a permission only email service to help businesses grow for over fifteen years, but we've also been email marketing ourselves to help grow our own business - we are one business who is certainly in it for the long haul.

By using Confirmed Opt-In for all of our own campaigns and adhering to other email deliverability best practices, we have never had any significant deliverability issues for our campaigns. Among our many customers, we've seen the same to consistently be the case where it is used.

Popular Examples of Confirmed Opt-In Users

Although we can't provide specific examples of these customer campaigns as per our privacy policy, we can dispel the myth that "no one uses Confirmed Opt-In" by listing out some examples of other businesses that are representative of a much larger, responsible group of marketers:

Organizations Using Confirmed Opt-In:

  CNN
  Microsoft
  CNet
  IRS.gov
  PBS
  Oprah
  The Weather Channel
  T.G.I. Fridays
  The White House

 

ISPs and Spam Filters Prioritize Confirmed Opt-In

Why does using Confirmed Opt-In provide such a benefit to getting mail delivered? Because it helps you to show the parties who are ultimately the determinants of whether your message goes to the inbox or the junk folder recognize that only people who truly want to receive information are on your list.
 

What ISPs Have to Say About Confirmed Opt-In

It's one thing for us to say that Confirmed Opt-In is the industry standard set forth by ISPs to manage permission, and it's another to hear it straight from them.

Just listen to what Yahoo, perhaps the most popular web based email service provider, has to say about Confirmed Opt-In:

"[U]se confirmed, opt-in email lists. To do this, after you receive a subscription request, send a confirmation email to that address which requires some affirmative action before that email address is added to the mailing list. Since only the true owner of that email address can respond, you will know that the true owner has truly intended to subscribe and that the address is valid."

This is the first thing Yahoo recommends to senders in suggestions to get email through to their subscribers, and they aren't alone in prioritizing its use.

Gmail also advises senders to use Confirmed Opt-in:

"Each user on your distribution list should opt to receive messages from you in one of the following ways (opt-in):
  • Through an email asking to subscribe to your list.
  • By manually checking a box on a web form, or within a piece of software.
We also recommend that you verify each email address before subscribing them to your list."

Source: Gmail Help

Microsoft recommends it through their own guidelines for getting messages delivered to their email services:

"Where email addresses are obtained via a webform, the mailing list owner should create a system to verify those addresses collected."

That covers the three most popular email service providers, and you'll find similar policies where smaller ISPs offer such guidelines. The bottom line is that ISPs want to see senders using Confirmed Opt-In for their email campaigns.

Now, ISPs don't work alone to block spam and unwanted messages from their subscribers. Most use their own unique combination technologies including blocklists, which contain lists of suspected spammers based on complaints and other data.
 

Confirmed Opt-In Helps You Avoid Blocklists

One very popular blocklist service is provided by Spamhaus, which many ISPs use to assist in making an informed and accurate decision about what to do with incoming email.

Here's what they have to say about Confirmed Opt-in:

"This is the standard practice for all responsible Internet mailing lists, it ensures users are properly subscribed, from a working address, and with the address owner's consent."

Since Confirmed Opt-In reduces user complaints and other feedback blocklist operators use, it helps email marketers to stay off of their lists.

Confirmed Opt-In Senders are Preferred Senders

Since proper permission is the foundation to responsible marketing, and it reflects so strongly measurable aspects of your email campaign, ISPs are willing to let the messages of Confirmed Opt-In senders acknowledging that there are less risks and issues than what occur when sending to unconfirmed subscribers.

By adhering to the standards of the email marketing industry such as Confirmed Opt-In, there is no question that the prospects of your messages getting through to your subscribers is excellent, while ignoring or minimizing their importances may leave you with very poor or mixed results.

 
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