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MailChimp announced recently that the new default for sign-up forms for MailChimp newsletters will switch from double opt-in to single opt-in, unless you live in the EU.
There’s a lot of information in that sentence, so let’s unpack it a bit before we get to the problem.
If you have a MailChimp newsletter, you have a sign-up form somewhere, some way for people to subscribe to your mailing list. With a single opt-in form, a subscriber just needs to enter their email address in your form, click subscribe, and they’re on your mailing list. With double opt-in, after a subscriber does those steps, they receive an email in their inbox asking them to confirm that they want to subscribe to your newsletter. (If they don’t click the link in the email, they will not subscribe to your list.)
The default used to be double opt-in. MailChimp has now made the default single opt-in (unless you’re in the EU).
Sounds great, right? It’ll be easier for people to subscribe to your mailing list and your list might grow faster!
That’s where we encounter some HUGE problems.
First of all, this isn’t necessarily a from-the-kindness-of-their-hearts move from MailChimp. They want you to have more people on your list because when you hit a certain number, you have to pay to use MailChimp — and I think those fees go up the larger your list is.
Well, they’re a business, so of course they’re looking for ways to increase revenues.
The real problem is with anti-spam legislation.
The reason single opt-in isn’t the default for EU based newsletters is because single opt-in is illegal in some places, such as Germany. And if anyone on your subscriber list is in Canada, you can be in BIG trouble.
In Canada, we have very tough anti-spam legislation that applies to anyone that sends or receives spam in Canada. You could be based in Australia or Peru, but if you have a Canadian on your mailing list, the legislation applies to you. In Canada, to comply with anti-spam legislation, you must have double opt-in, among other things.
Canada’s anti-spam legislation sounds intimidating, but there are a few basic criteria to keep you in compliance. You cannot add subscribers without their consent. (There are some loopholes in this, but this is a general guideline.) You must have an unsubscribe link in your newsletter. And you must have your physical mailing address in the email. If you use MailChimp, all of these are basics in how MailChimp operates and it’ll keep you in compliance.
So what’s the big deal with single opt-in? Someone could add other users without their consent — and since there isn’t the back-up of double opt-in (where the owner of the email account must actually verify they want to be a subscriber), you could have people on your list that never signed up for it. If they complain to the Canadian government, you could run into some difficulties.
Are you going to get fined by the Canadian government if someone adds a subscriber to your list without their consent? Not likely. But you can save yourself a lot of headaches and hassle by changing the default on your MailChimp back to double opt-in.
If you think about it, who do you want on your email newsletter subscriber list? Absolutely everyone that entered their email address — including people who did it on a whim or maybe even didn’t know what they were signing up for? Or just those who are truly interested in the books you write and want to be notified of what you’re up to? Sure, those higher subscriber numbers might be exciting, but if most of your subscribers aren’t really your target audience, you’re just wasting your effort. A smaller subscriber list, but one full of real fans, is exactly what you want. Double opt-in helps that process along.
To change it back to double opt-in:
- After you log in to MailChimp, click on “Lists” at the top
- Then click on your subscriber list (and if you have multiple lists, you’ll have to do this for each list)
- Then click on “Settings”
- On the drop-down menu, click on “List name and defaults”
- Right under “Form Settings” you’ll find a toggle for double opt-in — click it so it turns on
- Scroll to the bottom and click “Save”