by Neil Schwartzman

For some time now I have contended that Confirmed Opt-in, 'COI' is dead, or at the very least on life support. It certainly is not a major factor in the continued relation between sender and receiver; that relies far more heavily on the ongoing and historical reputation of the mailer and the mail stream. Proof of permission doesn't scale; end-users complain all the time, but it is rare if not impossible for a receiving site to request proof when an end-user complains, then the receiver complains to the sender, and the sender says that permission was actually in place. Much more commonly, the sender unsubscribes the address and moves on, permission or not, since the subscriber doesn't want the mail any more.

But then, I recently had two eye-opening experiencee as to exactly why Confirmed Opt-in is critical to the email whole equation.

As you probably know, CAUCE recently had some major news, we announced it here on our website and we also did a mailing to our membership lists. One email resulted in someone challenging us on their subscription — the subscriber instisted he had never signed up to our lists and was pretty upset.

We pulled out his Confirmed, "Double" Opt-in record, showed him the date and time he asked to be subscribed, and the time and date he clicked through on the confirmation mail.

After his red face subsided, he apologized for the kafuffle.

sign-up data on-hand is fine, but despite confirmation being a little
more difficult to attain, it is worth the effort to settle complaints
such as these right at the get-go!

Another incident happened on the same day.

A mailer contacted
us, very upset because his ESP had just cancelled his account. Apparently they had received a complaint about mailing to one of our
CAUCE addresses on a public website. Some joker had added the address
to his lists, which were only single opt-in, and when he mailed, BAM!
Our mail admin auto-complained, and included the ESP in the cc list.

Apparently, they took the complaint seriously.

calmed the gentleman down, and suggested that he institute a
confirmation system for his opt-in mailings. He went a step further and
decided to reconfirm his entire list, in an attempt to placate his ESP.

is unfortunate that he had to suffer an interruption to his business
because someone maliciously added a CAUCE "poison pill" address to his
lists, but the reality of the situation is that there are heavy weight
complainers out there that can stop a list dead in its tracks. Far more
common than that are that without Confirmed/Double Opt-in, zombies and
typos can result in mailers adding spamtrap addresses to a list.

The very best way to avoid ending up in a long-term world of pain is to confirm them before sending a single email.

Permission might not be forever, but it looms heavily over the first mailings.