Nov 11, 2005

Holy Cow! A Sales Guy? Using Double Opt-in?!?!?

Gitomer_thJust finished reading an interview in the Atlanta Business Chronicle with sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer. When asked, "How can CEOs best manage their customer base?" Mr.Gitomer suggests that managing addresses and phone numbers is only about 1/10th of the process.

You’ve got to build and maintain their email addresses, too.

Hmm, sounds like good advice (I admit I’m a little biased here). So I decided to check out his "Sales Caffeine" email newsletter to see what he’s doing to manage his customer base.

Holy cow! One of the top sales guys on the planet? Using double opt-in!!?!?!?

You never see that. It’s really hard convincing sales people (mostly newbies) that double opt-in is the way to go with their email lists, because it’s about quality, not quantity. They usually reply, "But I’m worried nobody will click the confirmation email, and my list won’t grow." Hmm. If you’ve got something worth talking about, they’ll click. If they truly want the email, they’ll click. If they don’t, then would you really want them on your list?

I think the sales term is "qualified lead."

Thanks to all the anti-spam measures, phishing scams and viruses, we think single opt-in is going the way of the opt-out method (once popular in the old dinosaur era of the internet). Single opt-in’s big weakness is that it allows too many erroneous and unwanted signups on your list. Over the years, we’ve even seen malicious signups from competitors (jerks who subscribe to lists, then regularly report you to ISPs for spamming them). Double opt-in requires users to confirm their subscriptions, and it keeps a digital record of when each subscriber confirmed, and from what IP address.

Watch a Sales Pro in Action

GitomeremailformMr. Gitomer obviously knows the benefits of double opt-in. Sure, double opt-in requires an extra step or two. But we’re talking about a world-class sales machine here, folks. Here’s how he does it:

1. Prove it’s gonna be worth their while.
On the email newsletter landing page, there’s a list of testimonials from people who love getting Jeffrey’s email every week.

2. Set expectations and back it up with a promise (and collect a little data along the way)
When you click the "Join" link on the landing page, he pops-up a small browser window (a great way to offset the fact that he’s requesting 8 fields of data). And there’s a little mini-Jeffrey making a promise: "We promise to deliver you up-to-the-minute, real-world, kick-butt
selling information that will help you do one thing, make more sales!" Jeffrey lets you choose your preferred email format, and even recommends that Lotus Notes users select plain-text (he’s got lots of corporate users, and he knows that Lotus mangles HTML email).

3. Tell them to confirm their subscription, and why it’s a good thing.
After filling out the form, he takes you to a screen that tells people, "We don’t believe in sending emails without your permission…click the confirmation link in the email…" He also includes the email address of the confirmation email, and asks users to add him to their "Friends" list (I like how he didn’t say, "Email Address Book" but I still understood what to do).

4. Send confirmation email with big-ass confirm button, and make me laugh.
The confirmation email is Gitomer all the way. His subject line uses his name, first and foremost (so I’ll recognize it in the blink of an eye). His email copy: "Sales Caffeine is almost yours." Click that giant confirm button, and you’re a smart guy like the 100,000 other subscribers on my list, and "we promise to send you real-world, kick-butt selling information…" He’s not afraid to show a little personality (hey, that’s what he’s selling!).

Gitomer really makes good use of each step along the way to reinforce his "brand" and dish out a little personality along the way. I’m looking forward to the emails.

Screenshots from Gitomer’s double opt-in subscription process:

  1. Email landing page, with testimonials
  2. Pop-up subscription form
  3. Thank you page
  4. Confirmation email

By the way

If you’re a MailChimp user, and you’re thinking about setting up a
MailChimp Managed List  (which only uses the double opt-in process), be sure
to sign up for Gitomer’s newsletter for some ideas. MailChimp lets you totally customize your signup page, confirmation emails (both plain-text
and HTML versions) and thank-you pages for the entire process.