The first question that should be asked when looking at an email marketing company for a newsletter or an autoresponder is “should I go with a double opt-in or single opt-in list?” Single opt-in lists allow people to sign up on your website or get added to your list by uploading their e-mail address and they are added. Double opt-in lists require the person to confirm their addition to the e-mail list by clicking on a link in an e-mail.
Single opt-in lists are more open to spam and people getting blacklisted from major ISPs for sending out spam. They do, however, generally allow you to have a larger list as people don’t have to opt-in to it. Open and click through percentages for single opt-in lists are usually lower (i.e. 15%-25%)
Double opt-in lists generally start smaller and you will have people that sign up on your web page and never opt-in. They do, however, have much greater open rates and click through percentages. Open rates are as high as 50%-60%, which means more people are actually receiving your e-mail and are opening it (i.e. not getting caught in spam or are actually interested in reading it).
When you look at open rates, you have to consider deliverability. This is the rate at which the e-mails actually make it into the recipients e-mail inbox. If the e-mail gets marked as spam by the email server and doesn’t even make it to the inbox, they don’t have a chance to open it. Also, if the e-mail makes it through but then gets marked as spam and sits in the spam folder, it has a lower chance of getting opened. There are many ways to optimize your e-mail message for deliverability but the best way, and often overlooked, is the reputation of the email list service. You can have the most optimized least spammy e-mail ever but if you’re sending it through a less than reputable company, it will still get marked as spam.
There is a lot that goes into the reputation of an e-mail list company. Email delivery companies work with major ISPs (Internet Service Providers) like AOL, Comcast, etc. to add e-mails coming from their servers to a “white list”. When email from a provider is added to this white list, the chances of the ISP filtering out the e-mail as spam before it even gets to the recipients email inbox is much lower. Yes, if you didn’t know before, there are e-mails sent to your e-mail address that you never see in your inbox or junk mail because they are filtered out by the ISP as spam.
The biggest contributer to the reputation of an e-mail delivery company, however, is the people and e-mail addresses that are sending the e-mails! When someone sends out an e-mail to their list, everyone on that list that has a spam filter through a service, has a choice to mark the e-mail as spam or not. Get too many people marking your e-mail address as someone that sends spam and it will increase your chances of getting marked as spam in the future. When a company gets too many people getting marked as spammers, what happens? There starts a bias from the ISPs to question whether any e-mail coming from the service provider is spam or not.
Now, back to single opt-in and double opt-in. You have a significantly less chance of getting marked as spam if you have a double opt-in list because people have clicked on a link in their e-mail stating that they want to receive your information after they signed up on your website. This gives you a good reputation and will make it less likely for you to get marked as a spammer. Now, what if you take an e-mail company that only allows double opt-in lists? That would make the reputation of the company much better than a company that allows single opt-in.
There are many good e-mail marketing services that are available. I have found the best deliverability in my experience to be Aweber Communications because of the points I’ve stated above and that’s who I continue to use. By default Aweber is a double opt-in list provider but you can use single opt-in with Aweber if you change the setting when first setting Aweber up.
Read our Aweber Review
If you’re really adamant in getting a single opt-in list email marketing provider, you can try out iContact, which I’ve seen a lot of people have success with. I’ve found it to be good with small businesses that have lists of existing clients they want to upload. They are also an excellent choice and get good deliverability for being mainly single opt-in.