Getting People out of MailChimp Limbo

How to easily rescue your pending MailChimp subscribers who have failed to double opt-in


If you use MailChimp to manage your email list then you probably know that MailChimp—unlike many other mailing list providers—requires people to both sign up and confirm their email address before they are added to your list. MailChimp calls this the “Double Opt-In Process” and touts its many benefits including preventing spambots, scams, and invalid email addresses.

However, what it doesn’t talk about is the subset of people who legitimately wanted to join your list but just got confused by—or were otherwise unable to complete—the double opt-in process. These people are lost in MailChimp limbo, never to confirm and never to hear from you again.

Based on my very small sample size of about 50 sign-ups, as many as 10% of subscribers—people I was sure intended to sign up—had actually failed to complete the sign up process.

Getting people out of limbo

Once I realized I had this problem I decided to build something to make my life easier.

The result of that is something I’ve very creatively called the MailChimp List Helper. It lets you easily see a list of everybody who has tried to sign up for your list but not confirmed their email address, and lets you subscribe or remove them in a single click.

If you find it useful or have any feedback on it I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


I should mention that I am only subscribing people to my list using this tool under one of two conditions:

  1. I have gotten their explicit consent via another mechanism.
  2. I recognize their email address as someone I know.

MailChimp does suspend accounts that violate their terms or acceptable use policy so don’t do that!

Can I just get rid of this whole confirmation workflow entirely?

The short answer is no, not easily.

The only way to bypass the confirmation/opt-in process on your own is to use the APIs instead of the standard sign-up forms to sign people up. This requires doing back-end programming, something that may or may not be an option for you.

The other alternative is to use a 3rd party (usually paid) tool that does this for you.

Hope you enjoyed this, and happy MailChimping!