MailChimp Moves to Single Opt-In: What You Need to Know

kirsten oliphant
4 min readOct 25, 2017


The best constant in social media is the constant change.

This week, people are freaking out about a rumored Facebook algorithm change that would finally put the nail in the coffin of organic reach for Pages.

It must have seemed like a good time for MailChimp to make a huge announcement:


This is actually a really big deal for a few reasons, despite the subdued announcement buried in a post about pop-ups, but it has an easy fix.

You can also listen to the accompanying podcast episode on Apple Podcasts or your fave app or via YouTube:


I’m not going to go on and on about this, because I wrote a whole post about the difference between single and double opt-in over at Create If Writing.

But I do want to point out the difference between the two and why it matters.

Single Opt-In: Essentially when someone enters their email into your form and clicks “I Want It What Way!” (because “Subscribe” is so 2011), they are automatically subscribed. Right then and there. The end.

Double Opt-In: When someone enters their email into your form and clicks “Send Me All The Things!”, they will receive an email asking them to confirm. If they do not click, they will not get an email from you. They are not, in fact, a subscriber.

Don’t yawn. This is important, I promise.

Legally Opted

Single opt-in is not legal all over the world. (True story.) The un-apt-ly named CAN-SPAM Act (which says you CANNOT, in fact, spam people) doesn’t care about opt-ins, surprisingly. You can single opt-in all day long legally in the USA and many other countries.

Just not Germany.

I’m sure there are others, but Germany has super strict laws on privacy. So if someone from Germany signs up through your single opt-in form, you’ve broken their laws.

Are you really going to be hunted down or fined? Probably not.

But do you want to be breaking international laws when you send emails? Um…probably not.

If you want to get all nerdy and learn about more legal stuff with email, you can read my post that goes more into depth on legal issues in the USA and around the world.

Doubly Qualified

Even in the majority of the countries where you CAN use single opt-in legally, it ups the likelihood that people might mark you as spam. Single opt-in might result in faster list-growth, but double opt-in has more engaged subscribers.

Those double opt-in people have seen a lot of you during the sign-up process through:

  • the form where they enter their email
  • the page they are redirected to after clicking “Give Me All Your Emails”
  • the email asking them to confirm
  • the page they are redirected to after clicking confirm
  • the final welcome email

So…if they don’t have a sense of your writing voice, your brand, your unique YOU-ness by the time they’ve done all that, you probably need to go infuse some life into your opt-in forms.

The Short of It

Single opt-in forms may get you in trouble in Germany (and possibly other countries) and result in less quality subscribers.

Double opt-in covers your butt and also gives you extra chances to get to know those subscribers during the opt-in process, ensuring they are more likely to open your emails.


When MailChimp announced that it was changing to single opt-in, they also said this is a retroactive change for your existing forms. As in,


Which means that if you deliver a freebie on the page people land on after they click confirm, your subscribers will never see that page after October 31. Poof! It’s gone.

The confirmation page is a great place for tripwire products, a welcome video, links to other social platforms or your community, or even to deliver a freebie or lead magnet.

If you do nothing right now, MailChimp is essentially making those pages (as well as the confirmation email) non-existent.

If you have done anything to optimize and customize and leverage that confirmation email and that confirmation thank-you page, you need to take some kind of action.


The good news is that you can do two relatively simple things.

  1. Optimize the Sign-Up Thank You Page. Move your freebie/tripwire/whatever from that confirmation page to the page people land on after they click the “I’m in!” button. (It is technically called the Sign-up thank you page.) This means your forms will be single opt-in, for better or for worse.
  2. Opt OUT of Single Opt-In. This is the option I’m choosing. Do this before October 31st! MailChimp did not said what will happen after that, but the form will move to single opt-in and I don’t know what it will take (or if you can) shift it back. You can find the link on MailChimp’s post about this (which was really a post about new pop-ups — way to bury the lead!) or try this link once you are logged in.

Still reading? You’re my kind of people. Let’s connect to talk more about email list nerd-ery, growing your platform, and oh, yeah! Writing.

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kirsten oliphant

I love sarcasm, coffee, & the Oxford comma. Host of the Create If Writing podcast, author, blogger, nerd. Let’s talk social media!