How to Set up Pardot Double Opt-In for Newsletter Forms

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Newsletters: a proven marketing method you should have in your marketing mix. Since you’re here to learn how to set up the double opt-in process for Newsletters and other advanced subscription management, I’m guessing you already know about all the benefits. Now, you’re ready for your newsletter subscription to graduate from single opt-in to double opt-in, using only Pardot.

What’s different about this post? There are many posts out there that teach you how to build a double opt-in process using Pardot. In this post, I will show you how to automate confirmed opt-in on forms where opt-in is just an option for your prospects.

For example: your form’s main goal is to generate demo requests for your product or service. However, prospects can additionally sign-up for the newsletter.

Here’s an example of a form Salesforce has:

In this post, we’ll take it step by step. The whole process is divided into seven steps, which might sound like a lot but trust me: it’s easier then you might think right now! Here’s what to expect:

1. The Starting Point

2. Create the Double Opt-In Process with Pardot

Step 1: Create the Unconfirmed Subscribers List

Step 2: Create the Confirmed Subscribers List

Step 3: Capture New Newsletter Signups

Step 4: Set up the Link for the Double Opt-In Confirmation

Step 5: Create the Double Opt-In Confirmation Email

Step 6: Send the Signup Confirmation Email

Step 7: Create the Double Opt-In Confirmation Landing Page

Bonus: Send Your First Newsletter to Confirmed Prospects

3. Send the Double Opt-In Process to Existing Prospects

4. Summary

The Starting Point

There are just a few prerequisites you must prepare before going ahead:

  1. Pardot Marketing asset knowledge: you need to know how to create email templates and lists in Pardot, and how to create a Pardot forms or Form Handler (including the newsletter checkbox field).
  2. Landing Pages: create a Landing Page to host the form for the newsletter subscription, whcih can be done with Pardot, Instagram, Unbounce, WordPress… or any tool!
  3. Automation Rule account limit: we will create two new automation rules in Pardot, so check how close you are to reaching your automation rule account limit.
  4. Administrator Role: ensure you have a Pardot administrator or marketing role to have access to all the features.
  5. Privacy Policy: update your privacy policy by adding the newsletter information, if you haven’t done that already. To respect GDPR, your privacy policy must cover the newsletter usage:
  • Description and scope of data processing
  • Legal basis for data processing
  • Possibility of revocation duration of storage
  • The newsletter service provider (Pardot)
  • Newsletter tracking reference

You’ve checked off the list? Then let’s get started!

You’ll start with creating the lists for all unconfirmed and confirmed newsletter subscribers, then teach Pardot to recognize new newsletter subscribers. Then, we’ll set-up the confirmation email to double opt-in your subscribers, and finally, you’ll prepare your first newsletter.

Step 1: Create the Unconfirmed Subscribers List

The very first step is to create a the unconfirmed Pardot list – this will hold everyone that opted-in for your newsletter, but hasn’t double opt-in yet.

What’s the point?

Keep an overview of the subscribers that haven’t double opt-in yet, which also gives you the option to send further reminder emails later on, to everyone that didn’t double opt-in right away.

How to set it up:

  1. Create a new list and name it “Newsletter Unconfirmed Opt-In”.
  2. Leave the dynamic list checkbox unchecked.
  3. Keep this list private. If you make it public, it will appear on the subscriber’s email preference center – more on that in Step 7.

Step 2: Create the Confirmed Subscribers List

The counterpart to the unconfirmed list is the confirmed list – which will show all prospects that successfully double opted-in.

What’s the point?

Keep an overview of the subscribers that double opt-in yet, which also can be further used to filter recipients for your newsletter.

How to set it up:

  1. Create a new list and name it something like “Newsletter Confirmed Opt-In”.
  2. Leave the Dynamic List checkbox unchecked.
  3. Keep this list private. If you make it public, it will appear on the subscriber’s email preference center.

Step 3: Capture New Newsletter Signups

This step is crucial if you have lead generation forms where the newsletter subscription is optional. In this scenario, you have to look at all form completions and pull out those prospects that ticked the checkbox to receive your newsletter.

What’s the point?

The newsletter is optional. Therefore, you can’t just send the confirmation email to all prospects that filled out a form. The automation rule that you create in this step will filter all relevant prospects.

How to set it up:

  1. Create a new automation rule and name it “Newsletter Unconfirmed Opt-in List”.
  2. Leave the repeat rule box unchecked.

3. Add the following Rules:

  • Prospect isn’t a member of: [the list you created in step 1].
  • Prospect custom field (the newsletter field you used on your form) must be checked for the prospect.
  • Make sure you add all forms and form handlers. If you use the newsletter opt-in on all forms, you can just say “any form was completed successfully”. If you just use the newsletter opt-in on some specific forms, add those only.

4. The action is to add prospects to the list you created in step one.

Step 4: Set up the Link for the Double Opt-In Confirmation

via GIPHY

This is when the double opt-in magic trick happens! Every prospect will get its unique link in the confirmation email, that sends the prospect to your subscription confirmation landing page, or email preference center.

As a reminder, this is exactly when the double opt-in happens: prospect signs up for the newsletter on your form (opt-in), gets the email confirmation email with this unique link to your subscription confirmation landing page or preference center, clicks that link, gets to your subscription confirmation landing page or preference center (double opt-in). Pardot knows the link was clicked and that the prospect was on the subscription confirmation landing page or preference center.

This step might sound difficult to you now but you don’t need to worry. It’s actually quite simple.

What’s the point?

To make the double opt-in even possible and to track all prospects that clicked the link in the confirmation email to your subscription confirmation landing page or preference center. You also track the date and time your prospects confirm their email which is relevant for GDPR.

How to set it up:

  1. Create a custom redirect and name it “Newsletter Confirmation Double Opt-In”.
  2. For the Pardot campaign, I recommend creating a new Pardot campaign dedicated to your newsletters.
  3. The destination URL, will be either the landing page that you create in step 7, or your preference center. You can come back to this step later on, so just add any URL for now.
  4. The Vanity URL sends prospects to the Destination URL. Give it a relevant, unique, and meaningful name, eg. /newsletter.

5. Add the following completion actions. These are triggered every time someone clicks the URL:

  • Remove from list [the list you created in step 1].
  • Add to list [the list you created in step 2].
  • For tracking purposes, it’s helpful to have another field that indicates the double opt-in progress; therefore, you can create a field, name it something like “Newsletter Double Opt-In” and change it to “Confirmed”.

Step 5: Create the Double Opt-In Confirmation Email

Once the prospect signed-up for your newsletter, your job is to send the prospect the confirmation email. It’s super important that you add the link from the previous step in this email.

What’s the point?

This step is needed to give the prospect the opportunity to confirm their email address.

How to set it up:

  1. Create a new Email Template and name it, eg. “Newsletter Confirmation Email”.
  2. Make it available for “Autoresponder emails”.

  1. Make sure you add the link you created in step 4. When hyperlinking the text, change the “Link Type” to “Custom Redirect” to find your confirmed link faster.

Step 6: Send the Signup Confirmation Email

In this step, you create an automation rule that simply sends the double opt-in confirmation email to everyone on your unconfirmed list.

What’s the point?

If you don’t send the confirmation email, the prospect can’t confirm their email address and they won’t get on your confirmed emails list. Therefore, make sure you set-up and activate this automation rule properly.

How to set it up:

  1. Create a new automation rule and name it “Newsletter Confirmation Email”.
  2. You can check the repeat rule box. If a prospect doesn’t react to the confirmation email, then fills out a form and checks the newsletter subscription in the future, then the prospect would receive the confirmation email again.

3. Add the following Rules:

  • Prospect list is a member of [the list you created in step 2].
  • Prospect list isn’t a member of [the list from step 1]
  • The field you added to your form to capture newsletter subscribers must be checked.

4. For the action, send the prospect the email from step 5.

Tip: If you’re running out of automation rules, you can save this one and set-up the two automation rules in one rule instead (combine step 3 and this step). You simply take the existing automation rule of step 3 and on top of the actions of the automation rule of step 3, you now add the action “Send prospect email”.

Step 7: Create the Double Opt-In Confirmation Landing Page

This is the final step! Once the prospect got our confirmation email and decided to confirm their email address, the prospect will be sent to this confirmation landing page, by clicking the link from Step 4. Alternatively, you can use your email preference center.

What’s the point?

This landing page will give the prospect feedback on the success of the email confirmation.

How to set it up:

Your first option is to create a new landing page. This landing page doesn’t have a form and just serves as a “Thank You!” page. You use it as your destination URL in your custom redirect that you set up in Step 4.

Your second option is to link an email preference center as the destination URL.
The preference center lets prospects decide which newsletters they want to receive. This is helpful when you’ve multiple newsletters and want to give prospects the possibility to subscribe and unsubscribe to, and from, specific lists, eg. all product news, special offers or the weekly newsletter.

Bonus: Send Your First Newsletter to Confirmed Prospects

Now that you’ve set-up the double opt-in process, let’s go ahead and see how you can put it to use.

How to set it up:

  1. Create a list, that you could call “General Newsletter”.
  2. Make the list dynamic.

3. Add the following Criteria:

  • Prospect is a member of [our list in step 2]. I like to make it extra safe, so I also add two more criteria:
  • The subscribe to newsletter field from the form must be checked.
  • The newsletter double opt-in field must be checked.

4. Add some further criteria to segment your newsletter database for more targeted newsletters. Criteria you could use are lead scoring and grading, lead status, source…

5. When you create the list email, choose this list for as the recipient list.

Send the Double Opt-In Process to Existing Prospects

Ideally, you’re just getting started with building your newsletter lists. In reality, many will have built their newsletter lists before, and now want to “upgrade” from a single opt-in to the double-opt-in process – if this is you, you might make the decision to send the double opt-in email to people already in your Pardot database.

The good news: you can easily do that. The bad news: well, realistically, the response rate will not be great. Without any further discussion about the pros and cons, let’s have a look at how to post-send the confirmation email to your prospects.

  1. Create a dynamic list in Pardot with all of your subscribers who have single opted-in. This list might look like this:

Rules for this list:

  1. Create a list email that kindly asks your subscribers to confirm their email addresses.

Back in May 2018 when GDPR went live, most of us, that subscribed to newsletters, got flooded with these emails – known as ”permission pass” emails. Some even had incentives to increase conversion rates, eg. a voucher for the first 100 people that confirm their email address! You should discuss incentives like these with a legal expert first, since these kind of incentives are potentially not fully aligned with the law.

Make sure to add the link to your confirmation landing page or preference page as a variable tag and send the confirmation email to the subscribers that you want to double opt-in. That’s it!

Summary

Setting up the double opt-in process in Pardot for newsletters and other subscription management requires you to put in the set up work. If you made it to this point, pat yourself on the back – great job!

You learned about the different scenarios of how the newsletter subscription can be part of forms. You created lists, automation rules, an email template, and a variable tag. You can now see how many people subscribed to your newsletter and how many of those confirmed their email address via the double opt-in process. You can run reminder emails for those that didn’t confirm their email yet and post double opt-in subscribers to your newsletter if you’ve used newsletter already. Most importantly, you can now send newsletters, aligning with the double opt-in rules!

Another helpful article for you might be how to learn to optimise your freshly set-up Pardot double opt-in process.

A final note: One of your motivations to set-up the double opt-in process might be to further align with GDPR. There are general uncertainties regarding GDPR and hence you should discuss the double opt-in process with your legal advisor first – especially if you want to opt-in existing subscribers. Please note that none of the information provided in this article is intended to, or actually constitutes, legal advice. This article serves general informational purposes only. The information in this article may also not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. So, please always consult your legal advisor.

Thank you for reading and happy newsletter sending!

This article was written by Axel from Zeitgeist Solutions.

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