Building an audience (or to use the slightly more concise, slightly more cynical term, list building) is mostly an art of navigating a spectrum between maximum conversions and maximum subscriber quality. 1

On one end of the spectrum, you can imagine a completely open sieve: a text input that sits on the internet, blessedly naive, ready for any enterprising individual to plop an email in and hit “submit”. There are no barriers to entry: no validations, no typo checking, no spam detection, no CAPTCHA.

If you collect email addresses like this, well — you’ll get a lot of email addresses! And a lot of garbage, too:

  • people typing instead of
  • spammers and malicious actors trying to use your mailing list for nefarious purposes
  • undeliverable email addresses
  • garbage strings

On the other end of the spectrum, you can imagine a careful and meticulous screening process: every potential email address is manually added, after careful and personal vetting, by you. You have utmost confidence that each email is kosher (whether it’s by cross-referencing it with a person you know or some other database), but it’s completely locked down to the outside world. Your list will be high-quality, but it won’t grow very quickly (or without much manual labor.)

Buttondown’s approach, naturally, is somewhere in between. We do a lot of automatic verifications 2, like making sure that new subscribers’ have syntactically correct email addresses with valid MX records and haven’t been reported for spam.

We also optionally allow what’s called “double opt-in”. This is the industry term for “make subscribers confirm their email addresses before I send stuff to them”; you’ve probably run into this before.

But the thing about double-opt in is that it’s sort of a black box. You don’t have a great sense of why folks aren’t opting-in; some of them might be bots or spammers, sure, but a pretty common worry is just that hey, people have lots of emails, and the confirmation email may have been lost in the torrent.

That’s why I’m excited to have launched subscription reminders, which is exactly what it sounds like: you can send emails to folks who haven’t confirmed their address to remind them gently about your beautiful newsletter. 3.

Simply go to your Subscribers page and choose the “Unconfirmed subscribers” filter, and you’re good to go:

They’ll get a nice lil email in their inbox reminding them of the exciting task ahead of them:

  1. This is, to be fair, true of most conversion funnels; you’re always going to be either sacrificing conversion rate for conversion quality or vice versa. 

  2. Software! Truly, a miracle. 

  3. And you can only do it a few times, to make sure things don’t become overbearing. 

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