2 Changes To MailChimp And What They Mean To You

2 Changes To MailChimp And What They Mean To You

If you’re using MailChimp to handle your email marketing needs, you should have received an email today stating that, "Starting October 31, single opt-in will become the default setting for all MailChimp hosted, embedded, and pop-up signup forms.”

What is single opt-in? Why should you care? What other changes should you be concerned about? We’ll cover all of that here.

Single vs. Double Opt-in

Whenever someone signs up for your mailing list, you have the option of making that a single or double opt-in.

Single Opt-In simply means that as soon as they fill in and submit a subscription form with a valid email address, they’re subscribed. They’ve opted in with a single action.

Double Opt-In adds an extra layer of security to prevent other people from signing you up for email lists you aren’t interested in. After the form is submitted, a confirmation email is sent that includes a link you must click in order to successfully subscribe. That means in order to opt-in, they have to complete a double action.

Theoretically, a double opt-in is more secure and protective of email users and their privacy. However, since it adds an extra step, it also results in failed double opt-ins (unsuccessful subscribes) and additional support issues.

The fact is, as prevalent as email and email marketing is today, there are still people who aren’t used to clicking on a confirmation email link, just as there are people who still don’t understand to look for and click on Unsubscribe links to leave a list!

MailChimp’s Change

So now that you understand the difference between Single and Double opt-in, let’s take a second look at MailChimp’s announcement. They said that single opt-in will become the default setting and that if you want to use double opt-in you will need to specifically choose that.

In fact, the announcement goes on to say that all existing forms will automatically change to Single Opt-In on that date.

So this impacts anyone who is using MailChimp and using MailChimp’s hosted, embedded or pop-up signup forms. These are the forms that you would use if you’d gone into your MailChimp account and copied code for a form, or are using the MailChimp for Wordpress plugin.

If that’s you, you’re going to want to consider whether this change makes a difference to you and your audience. Did they appreciate getting that confirmation email that ensured it was truly them who requested the subscription? If so, you will need to go back into your form(s) by October 31 and set them to use Double Opt-In. You may need to replace your existing embedded code as well to reflect that change.

Note that depending on where you live, there may be laws and regulations in place that specifically require Double Opt-In, so please check that requirement as well and make sure your forms and email marketing are 100% compliant. Here in the U.S., the FTC's CAN-SPAM guildelines have no such stipulation. Neither do most countries. Germany, however, is one example where double opt-in is virtually mandatory due to their strict interpretation of email consent requirements.

But Wait, There’s More

Here’s the full message from MailChimp:

Subject: We’re making important changes to the signup process

Full message from MailChimp regarding Opt-In changes.

There’s another critical impact this change may have on you, depending on how you’ve set up your email marketing system.

Because of the move to Single Opt-In, elements that were unique to Double Opt-In will be disabled - namely, confirmation emails and thank you pages.

With Double Opt-In, a confirmation email had to be sent which included the confirmation link. When clicked, that confirmation link would lead to a Thank You page.

MailChimp users have always had the option to customize the confirmation email and/or thank you page, or even specify a custom URL for the thank you page. If you were using those features for anything else, like, sharing something to be downloaded, that will stop working on the 31st.

For instance, one setup that I’ve seen frequently is to use the Thank You page to provide a digital download that was offered to new subscribers. Up until recently, only MailChimp Pro users had access to set up autoresponders which meant that businesses with less than 2000 subscribers had to find workarounds. Rather than pay for an upgrade so that they could create groups within their email list and set up custom autoresponders to welcome new subscribers to each group, they just used one list and a customized Thank You page for all new subscribers.

If that sounds like how you’ve set up your MailChimp, you have two options:

  1. Set your forms back to Double Opt-In on the 31st and check to make sure everything is working as intended.
  2. Consider using groups within your list for different offers and set up an autoresponder to welcome them accordingly.

I documented how to set up those groups and autoresponders here.

Wrapping Up

There’s no indication why MailChimp is making this move - I can only speculate. (Though the change is brought up in a related blog post about their new forms, though the post makes no mention of the fact that Single Opt-in is now default.) The important point here is that all MailChimp users need to at least consider how they’ve implemented signup forms on their website (and the confirmation process), and update accordingly.

If you’re using a service like SumoMe to collect subscribers, nothing will change for you, as that service uses MailChimp’s API to import new subscribers directly into the selected list or group.

Questions? Leave them in the comments below.

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Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner

Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, award-winning Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.

Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."

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