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Christopher Knight

Email List Subscription Controversy - To Allow Email-Based Subscriptions or Web-Based Only
By Christopher Knight

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The debate is this: Should you allow email-based subscriptions to your newsletter or should you only allow a web-based subscription method or do a hybrid combination? In the past, it was a no brainer that you should allow both subscription methods, but thanks to spam and virus spoofs -- the days of email-based subscription methods may be coming to an end.

Why this is important and a real-life example:

Here at Ezine-Tips, we allow email-based subscriptions as well as web-based and do so without any problems or complaints...but another newsletter of mine wasn't so lucky.

It started in July as I was analyzing some statistics that were showing that we had 6,000 people who were continuously in "confirmation" mode waiting for them to confirm to one of our newsletters. I thought it was an anomaly so I wiped them all out and in 2 weeks, we had 3,000 more folks in confirmation mode waiting for them to confirm. Translation is that the greater majority of these folks never requested to join our list. If we were not running double opt-in (which we have been since 2000), all of those folks would have been forced onto our list against their wishes...and of course we didn't want that! ...even if the greater majority of them were dead email accounts anyway.

The problem with email-based subscriptions methods is that it lends itself to spoof spam & viruses. If you run an email-based subscription method without double opt-in confirmation, your practices are insane and irresponsible in today's environment. It's a sure-fire formula to get blocked by the major blacklists.

Best Practices & My Recommendations:

  1. If you want to protect your reputation the most, then allow only web-based subscriptions along with double opt-in confirmation.

  2. If you care less about being perfect, have a rebel living inside of you, and want to help a greater majority of folks get onto your list without impediment, then allow only web-based subscriptions and single opt-in... but watch for complaints. Switch to double opt-in if complaints happen. Remember, it only takes one complaint to get blocked or added to a blacklist.

  3. If can't stomach the thought of stopping cold on allowing email-based subscriptions to your newsletter, you could convert the join or subscribe email address to your newsletter into an autoresponder that sends them to your web-based subscription form. This does not solve the problem of spoof spam calling your autoresponder that was formerly your subscription email address, but it can help you during a transition period until you can identify and notify all of the websites on the planet that still list your email-based subscription method.

As for me, I'm going to continue to run both email-based and web-based subscription methods because I know all of my lists are double opt-in...but I know the days are counted when I will remove email-based subscriptions to prevent others from getting our confirmation emails that they didn't request, all thanks to spoof spam & viruses.

This Ezine-Tip was submitted By Christopher Knight -- Email List Marketing Expert, author and entrepreneur. Get your weekly dose of Email newsletter publishing, marketing, promotion, management, email-etiquette, email usability and deliverability tips by joining the free Ezine-Tips newsletter:

Ezine-Tips for September 30, 2004

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