However, risks from opt-ins are rising. Typo spam traps and typos in general pose serious deliverability risks, especially to brands that capture email addresses offline through verbal or handwritten transcription. Several brands have been stung by Spamhaus in recent years because of typo spam traps getting on their email lists through poorly executed in-store email capture.
Marketers’ use of passive consent doesn’t help, either, particularly when that consent is buried in the fine print of sweepstakes rules or terms and conditions
statements. It’s well established that consumers don’t read the fine print, so including opt-in consents in these statements provides brands with no protection from spam complaints.
Because of these risks, it seems reasonable to put in place a method of confirming opt-ins that provides a hedge against potentially problematic email addresses and permission grants. Why not take some inspiration from the confirmed opt-in process, but lower the bar?
So while a confirmed opt-in seeks to verify consent with a single opt-in confirmation email that requires a specific click as proof of permission, a single opt-in process could confirm consent by getting an open or click in any of the emails sent during, say, the first 30 days following the opt-in. If subscribers don’t engage with your welcome email (or welcome emails series) or any of the other emails you sent during their first month on your list — a time when subscribers are usually the most engaged — then you should see this as a major red flag and stop mailing them.
Call it confirmed opt-in lite (COIL).
The bar would be appropriately lower for COIL, but there would definitely be a bar that new subscribers would need to clear in order to stay subscribed. Not clearing this bar means that you’re acknowledging that the email address represents more of a risk to your deliverability than an opportunity to grow sales.
A 30-day window is probably appropriate as a default starting point for most B2C brands, but you could, of course, determine the window that makes the most sense for your brand by analyzing the behavior of your subscribers. After what point do initially inactive subscribers rarely become active? After what point do initially inactive subscribers become very likely to complain? Daily mailers may find a shorter COIL period to be more effective, while weekly mailers may find a long period better.
Whatever point you choose, stick with it. Codify it by building it into your onboarding process. Automate the logic to keep yourself honest — and safe.
Many brands will be performing some list hygiene this summer and early fall in preparation for holiday season. Make instituting COIL a part of that effort to reduce inactives, lessen the risk of being blacklisted, and keep your email program focused on serving engaged subscribers.