Why I’m Moving to Double Opt-in Subscriptions No ratings yet.

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, E-Commerce ConsultantI am more and more concerned with the intolerable avalanche of spam filling inboxes. It’s getting worse and worse! Legitimate e-mail marketers and businesspeople suffer from this, too. The more unwanted e-mail people receive, the less patience they have with e-mail they have requested. The less time they have to read legitimate commercial e-mail. Spam is ruining e-mail as a communication and business tool.I don’t think the government will allow it to be ruined, any more than fax spam has been allowed to ruin fax communication effectiveness. I don’t see any alternative to stiff federal legislation against spam. Though we want our legislators to be wise, wisdom has not always been their forte. Anti-spam laws may well crimp legitimate business and newsletter e-mailers. I can see it coming down the pike.Up until now, I have advocated using a simple opt-in system for newsletter sign-ups. A confirmation e-mail told new subscribers how to unsubscribe if they wanted to. In my experience only a very tiny percentage of my simple opt-in subscriptions are bogus — friends subscribing friends or enemies subscribing enemies to hundreds of lists. It just doesn’t happen on my lists very often. The real problems are: (1) the use and sales of blatant spam lists vacuumed from millions of web pages, (2) sloppy permission policy management by legitimate companies, and (3) the sale of so-called opt-in lists to other companies. Selling an e-mail newsletter to a company that continues publication of that same newsletter may be a legitimate transfer of permission. But if the use changes, the permission is no longer valid. You can’t take permission given to Company A for a particular purpose and then transfer it to Company B which e-mails different content for a different purpose. Then it is no longer permission but presumption! Because of the spam crisis, I am in the process of changing over my subscription systems to double-opt in (requiring a positive confirmation e-mail or hyperlink confirmation). Certainly, requiring confirmation will reduce subscriptions to some degree, since some people never get around to confirming their subscription. Why am I willing to sacrifice some subscribers in order to have confirmed opt-in lists? In the next few years, I expect legitimate marketers to be required to certify — and perhaps submit to audit — to prove that their e-mail lists are fully permission-based. I don’t like to predict this, but that’s how I see it. In order to get a head start on having a certifiably confirmed opt-in list for the future, I’ll be changing to begin positive double opt-in confirmation for new subscribers very soon. Perhaps you should consider doing so, too.

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