April 01, 2004

1.4% Email Double Opt-ins Click AOL Spam Complaint Button

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Managing Editor Anne Holland

Ever since AOL's version 9.0 launched late last Summer, many emailers have been complaining vociferously that the "report as spam" button was far too easy to click, so consumers were clicking it by mistake when all they meant to do is delete a particular message from their in-box.

And, since AOL's whitelisting rules judge mailers to some extent on how many complaints you get, this was a huge problem. My question was, has anybody actually measured it?

Turns out Tom Kulzer CEO at AWeber Communications, has just finished tallying cumulative results from 22,000 AOL names who've joined one of 200 active lists, his company manages, in the last 60 days:

Single Opt-in Sign-ups
Unsubbed using remove link: 22.2% cumulative
Hit "This is spam" button: 2.1% cumulative

Double Opt-in Sign-ups
Unsubbed using remove link: 7.9% cumulative
Hit "This is spam" button: 1.4% cumulative

What's the difference between to two sign-up forms? Douvle means confirmed or verified opt-in - so the person has signed up, then gone to their email box and clicked on a link in that email to indicate they definitely want to be on the list.

While these complaint numbers look fairly low, especially when compared to unsubscribes, you have to put them in perspective by considering that AOL tells mailers anything over .5% is cause for alarm. Plus, if you're over 1%, you're off their super white list.

So average double opt-in mailers are in danger of missing AOL's complaint level targets by a whole lot, just in the normal course of things.

However, Kulzer did have some good news. "Some of our first-hand experience with potential customers signing up to our test drive form on the main page of our site show that we get fewer double opt-ins but the overall number of sales we receive from those follow ups is the same. This makes the conversion rate of those double opt-in subs much higher than that of single opt-in before we started using double around Dec 2002."

So, if you are resisting going to double-opt-in because you're scared you'll have a smaller list resulting in less business, this may not be true. Double is worth testing.

If you have neat data to share with us, let me know at AHolland@MarketingSherpa.com.

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