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Why Single Opt‑In? And an Update for Our EU Customers

Last Tuesday, we announced in an email to our customers that Mailchimp is adding single opt-in as an option for email lists, and making it the default setting in new and existing lists starting October 31.

However, we’ve made an important change for Mailchimp users located in the European Union: If your primary contact address is in the EU, your existing forms will remain double opt-in. You can change your lists to single opt-in on the Signup Preferences page at any time. After November 3, you’ll also be able to make that change in each list’s settings.

We made this decision after receiving a lot of feedback from EU customers who told us that single opt-in does not align with their business needs in light of the upcoming GDPR and other local requirements. We heard you, and we’re sorry that we caused confusion. Customers located in the EU will receive an email from us today to let them know how we’ve changed the plan.

Please know we are committed to helping our customers get ready for the GDPR. Double opt-in provides additional proof of consent, and we suggest you continue using double opt-in if your business will be subject to the GDPR.

For customers outside the EU, existing forms will still switch to single opt-in on October 31. You can switch back to double opt-in at any time through the Signup Preferences page or in each list’s settings. Going forward, all new lists can be set to double opt-in during the list creation process or in list settings.

Why single opt-in?

We know that some of you are curious about why we’re moving to single opt-in as a default, after having been double opt-in by default for so long. I’m happy to address that.

I run the Research team here at Mailchimp, and every 6 weeks we go to a new city and interview small businesses. In those interviews, more and more business owners are bringing up double opt-in. What they’ve been saying is that double opt-in is not an easy journey for their customers. Some go so far as to say that double opt-in is “broken.”

At Mailchimp, the idea of making something easy for a customer is core to who we are. When our customers expressed concerns that double opt-in was becoming increasingly ineffective, we decided to dig deeper.

What our data shows

Over the past 5 years, most email service providers have moved their email marketing from double opt-in to single opt-in. But that’s not why we’ve followed suit.

Rather, as the majority of companies have moved to single opt-in, recipients have become re-educated on how email marketing confirmation works. Today, most people don’t expect or look for a double opt-in confirmation message when they subscribe to a newsletter.

Indeed, we’ve seen double-opt in rates within Mailchimp slip to 39%. This means 61% of people start but do not finish the double opt-in process.

Some of those email addresses may be misspellings, misdirected forum spam bots, or other problematic subscriptions. But after analysis by our own data scientists, we discovered that the overwhelming majority of those who don’t complete the double opt-in process are legitimate subscribers who no longer anticipate the confirmation message.

This shift in norms has led most of our customers to prefer single opt-in. But since Mailchimp has only supported double opt-in in our native signup forms, the only choice for customers who wanted single opt-in has been a custom integration or third-party form. (Our API has supported single opt-in since 2009.) This new default doesn’t affect imports or API calls, which account for 98% of subscriptions entering our system today.

So while we’ll continue to support double opt-in, we’re shifting the behavior of native forms in Mailchimp to default to single opt-in. We’re making this change now because we have stronger, more intelligent data-backed systems in place to prevent spam for all of our hosted forms—double and single opt-in—so we don’t expect this to impact deliverability.

Benefits to both

Many of our customers are excited about this change, but we’ve also heard from customers who have concerns about our decision to change the default setting on existing lists. We understand that it adds an extra step for those who want to remain double opt-in, but we wanted to simplify the process for the majority of customers who prefer single opt-in. We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to keep double opt-in as well, and you can change your settings at any time.

Ultimately, you should decide which opt-in method is best for your business. Single opt-in helps you grow your list and give customers a fluid, user-friendly experience when they sign up for marketing emails. Double opt-in is great for customers who want that extra step to confirm email addresses have a valid, monitored inbox, and it can have a positive impact on open and click rates. Double opt-in can also be used to satisfy local regulations or meet recommended email marketing practices in areas of the world with differing requirements.

Learn more about both options in our Knowledge Base.

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