Target Engaged Customers Using Double Opt-Ins

Kyle Tarbuck
Kyle Tarbuck
  • Updated

The holy grail of any B2C (business to consumer) marketing campaign is to reach just those people who you know are engaged and want to hear from you with each piece of marketing. In other words, getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

This article talks about how to use a double opt-in setup to help you identify your most engaged customers, and make sure you’re talking to the right people. We’ll explain how to combine several Spektrix features in order to create this setup, and provide some examples of how else this might benefit you.

What does double opt-in mean?

Double opt-in is the principle of adding a second step to any subscription process, requiring the customer to verify their interest in signing up. In the context of arts marketing it provides a way of ensuring that customers are interested and engaged in your work, as they have to complete the second step to fully sign up – and chances are they’ll only do so if they genuinely want to subscribe.

This process can take different forms, but a standard example would be for the first step to be a standard signup function - such as the Simple Signup Form in Spektrix - and the second would be a standardised email asking the customer to click a link to confirm their interest. By clicking the link provided the customer is both verifying that they signed up in the first place and confirming that they wish to receive whatever communications are entailed.

You can then use this process to identify new customers who are engaged, but haven’t yet booked with you. It’s worth noting that any new customers who have signed up as part of the booking process can safely be assumed to be engaged - here we’re just looking at how to identify engaged customers who haven’t booked.

What are the benefits?

Success in marketing is largely based on how well you can segment your customers. The more confident you can be in getting in touch with the right customers, the better. Setting up double opt-in allows you to add to your existing segmentations, narrowing things down even further to make sure that each Customer List is targeting customers who you know have previously interacted with you. You can even use it to encourage customers to indicate their preferences when they verify their interest, allowing you to segment even further.

Besides helping ensure that your marketing messages land effectively, this also means that you can increase your mailing return on investment. The more targeted you can be, the less you need to worry about packing your mailing list full of as many people as possible - after all, you’re far better off sending a smaller number of emails to just the people you know will open them, rather than sending them to a larger number of people who are less likely to engage.

We’ll also look a little bit later at some other use cases in which double opt-in can be helpful.

How do I set it up in Spektrix?

It’s possible to achieve the process described above by utilising a range of Spektrix features in combination. Here’s how we would suggest you go about setting it up:

Step 1
Set up a dotdigital campaign asking your customers to double opt-in, with at least one link for them to click (this is the key part - you need to make sure there’s a link to click). It’s up to you to choose how to phrase that ask based on what you think your customers will respond best to, although the simplest option is probably to ask them to click a link to confirm that they really are interested in your mailing list.

As long as you’re encouraging customers to click a link, the process will work. You could, for example, ask customers to confirm their contact preferences; this is especially useful if you’re using the Simple Signup Form as this just automatically adds any contact preference linked to dotdigital to the customer’s record, but doesn’t give customers the opportunity to select any other preferences (e.g. agreeing to contact by post, by telephone, or about fundraising).

Step 2
In Insights & Mailings > Mailings create a mailing category called Double opt-in mailings.

You’re going to use this in the next step as part of your segmentation, as you want to be able to build segments looking for customers who have (or haven’t, depending on which step you’re at) received one of these particular mailings before.

Step 3
For this step you’ll want to identify newly-created accounts belonging to customers who haven’t yet booked anything (remember: if they’ve booked then they’re already engaged), who have agreed to be contacted by email, and who haven’t yet been sent a double opt-in email.

To do that, create a new customer list in Insights & Mailings > Customer Lists with the segments listed below. For any segment not using a standard in-built metric, we’ve explained how to create them in a section at the end of these steps.

NOTE: you can build all of the Customer segments below as individual segments, or as a single segment containing multiple metrics - either option is fine!

  • Agreed to email (Customer segment - see below)
  • AND has email address (Customer segment - standard metric)
  • AND date created is Today (Customer segment - standard metric)
  • AND has never booked (Purchasing segment - see below)
  • AND has NOT received a double opt-in mailing (Marketing segment - see below)


Step 4
In Insights & Mailings > Customer List Schedules you should set up a schedule to send your double opt-in dotdigital campaign to the above list. The idea is to make sure that customers always receive the double opt-in email shortly after signing up, so you could run this hourly if you wanted, although by doing so you’d risk falling foul of the dotdigital Watchdog*. Instead, we would recommend you run it daily.

It’s worth being aware that whoever sets up this schedule will receive an automatic email any time the schedule runs and the list is empty and, as you’re running it hourly, there’s a good chance that will happen very regularly.

* The dotdigital Watchdog looks at the proportion of at-risk emails included in a customer list; essentially, the smaller the list, the more likely it is that the Watchdog will flag it.

Step 5
Next you’ll need to set up an auto tag to apply to all customers who you want to include in future mailings - that’s customers who have booked and customers who have interacted with your double opt-in mailings.

In Admin > Customers > Tags set up an auto tag with the following criteria:

  • Agreed to email (Customer segment - see below)
  • AND has email address (Customer segment - standard metric)
  • AND has booked (Purchasing segment - see below)
  • OR
  • Agreed to email (Customer segment - see below)
  • AND has email address (Customer segment - standard metric)
  • AND has never booked (Purchasing segment - see below)
  • AND has interacted with at least one double opt-in mailing (Marketing segment - see below)


Step 6
Now that you’ve set up your auto tag, you can use it to power a Global segment that you can use in all of your Customer Lists in the future.

In Customer Lists > Segment Explorer, create a Customer segment looking for customers with that auto tag. Once this is done, you can use this as part of your permission to email segmentation for all future email communications.

Remember that this process is designed to work with new sign-ups, but won’t impact your lists of already engaged customers, so you’ll need to add it to your existing segmentation rather than using it on its own.

How to create the non-standard segments
Most of the segments you need to create in the previous steps are pretty standard, but a few are either a little less common or a little more complex. We’ve broken down how to set each of these up below.

Agreed to email

  • Create a Customer segment and name it Agreed to Email
  • Add Contact Preferences from the Customers section
  • Choose your email-related preference and tick Yes
  • Click the Add button to add the contact preference
  • Click OK to save

Booked (and not booked)

  • Create a Purchasing segment and name it Has Booked
  • Add Date Transaction Confirmed from the Order Items Section
  • Leave the dates blank so that it will look for all transactions ever
  • Click Next and then leave the Purchasing statistics section as it is
  • Click Save
  • To make this Not Booked, add the segment into your customer list and tick NOT

Has not received a double opt-in mailing

  • Create a Marketing segment and name it Has Received Double Opt-In Mailing
  • Add Mailing Category from the Mailings Section
  • Tick the box next to Double opt-in mailings
  • Click Next
  • In the Find customers section next to who have been sent make sure you have at least one selected
  • Leave any further options in this section un-ticked
  • Click Save
  • Add the segment into your customer list and tick NOT

Has interacted with a double opt-in mailing

  • Create a Marketing segment and name it Has Interacted With Double Opt-In Mailing
  • Add Mailing Category from the Mailings Section
  • Tick the box next to Double opt-in mailings
  • Click Next
  • In the Find customers section tick the box next to who have interacted with and choose at least one from the drop-down list - this looks for customers who have clicked on any link in the email campaign(s) selected
  • Click Save

If you’re not sure about any of these segments, please get in touch with the Spektrix Support team who will be able to help.

Other possibilities

We’ve focused so far on using double opt-in to make the most of your marketing, but some of the principles we’ve covered here have other uses as well. The key part of the setup is in the segments looking for customers who have interacted with mailings - these principles can also be applied to look for customers who have interacted with different types of mailings, or even specific individual emails.

Here are a few suggestions for how else you might want to use the same principle:

Informational emails and invites
If you need to send out an email containing important information (such as a change of showtime or a cancellation), you probably want to make sure as many customers read that email as possible. One way of doing that is to include a link that asks customers to respond and indicate that they have read it, and then resend the email a short time later, excluding anyone who has clicked on the link. That way you’re not bombarding those customers who have absorbed the information, and instead are focusing on reaching customers who haven’t yet responded.

You could even report on which customers have not indicated that they have read it, so that you can then call those customers separately to make sure they receive the information.

Similarly, if you’re sending out invitation emails, you might want to use the same process to resend invitations to anyone who hasn’t responded to your original email.

Post-show surveys
If you send generic (i.e. non show-specific) surveys out in your post-show emails, you might want to avoid emailing it every single time a customer attends, so as not to overwhelm regular attendees with the same questions. If that’s the case, you can use the link to the survey as evidence of customers interacting with the email, and set up your post-show emails to exclude customers who have recently interacted with a previous email.

To do that you’ll need a mailing category for post-show emails, and an auto tag looking at customers who have recently (e.g. in the last seven days) received and interacted with mailings in that category. You would use that auto tag in the customer criteria for your post-show email, making sure it’s set to NOT so that you’re always excluding customers who have clicked on a link in a post-show email in the preceding week.

Best practice
Whether you’re in the UK and bound by GDPR and legitimate interest, or you just want to follow best practice, you might want to flip this all on its head and focus on excluding disengaged customers from your mailings. Rather than looking for customers who have clicked on links in your emails, you could instead look for those who haven’t clicked links over a given time period, and set up an auto tag to mark them as disengaged - allowing you to then exclude them from some or all of your mailings.

Next steps

Once you’ve set up double opt-in, and put into practice the various ways in which it can be of use, what are the next steps to take? If you’re not already using them, we would recommend that you look into the various email automation tools available in Spektrix, to take advantage of the more accurate segmentation they offer. After all, the better your data, the more effective automation can be! There are loads of ways you can use Spektrix and our integration with dotdigital to remove the manual elements of marketing, and focus even further on making sure your marketing is as targeted and customer-focused as possible.

Click here to read more about email automation in Spektrix.


If you have any further questions about how to set up or use double opt-in please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team.