How can I let contacts manage their own subscriptions?

When you use multiple email marketing lists, you can allow contacts to manage their subscriptions themselves. In other words, let them choose on which list(s) they want to subscribe. This is a great way to encourage engagement and improve the customer experience for your contacts.

In this article, we will show you how to let your contacts subscribe and unsubscribe from your lists using a form, email, and automation.

You do this by following these steps:

  1. Create a custom contact field (to collect subscription preferences)
  2. Create a 'subscription preferences' form
  3. Add the 'subscription preferences' form to your email
  4. Create an automation that subscribes and unsubscribes contacts from your lists
  5. Test the 'subscription management' settings
  6. Send your email

1. Creating a custom contact field

In order to collect subscription preferences from your contacts, you will first need to create a custom contact field. This contact field will be a 'checkbox' field, asking your contacts for which lists they want to subscribe. Each field value (choice) represents a list name. Since it is a 'checkbox' field, contacts can subscribe to as many lists as they want by selecting multiple options. For the box or boxes that someone does not check, they will receive the 'unsubscribed' status for those respective list(s).

Screenshot_2021-08-26_at_16.27.24.png

Learn how to create custom contact fields.

2. Creating a 'subscription preferences' form

The next step is to create a form where you can add the custom field you just created.

  • The form you need is an 'inline form'. Custom fields can only be added to an 'inline form'.
  • The form uses the 'add a tag' action. This means that once the form is submitted, a tag will be added to every contact that submits this form.
  • Opt-in confirmation emails are not sent when this form is submitted.

The steps to create this form are:

  1. Click on 'Website > Forms' to go to the forms overview page.
  2. Click on the 'Create a form' button
  3. In the 'Create a form' mode, give the form a name in the designated field. The 'inline' form will already be selected by default.
  4. In the 'Action' dropdown menu, select 'add a tag'.
  5. Type the tag in the 'Options' field. This tag will be added to contacts when they submit your form. Wearing that tag will then immediately add them to your automation.
  6. Click the 'Create' button.

    Screenshot_2021-08-26_at_16.12.12.png

  7. The form builder will now open. Find the custom field you created (in step 1 of this article) to collect the list subscriptions. You will find your custom fields under the 'Custom fields' section in the right menu.
  8. Drag the field into your form.

    Screenshot_2021-09-06_at_14.48.41.png

  9. Make any additional changes to your form. Changes you make are automatically saved.
  10. Then you will need the URL of the form to add to your email later. To obtain this, click on the 'Integrate' button and select the 'Link' tab. Copy the URL of the form.

3. Adding the 'subscription preferences' form to your email

Now you need to paste the URL of the form you copied into your campaign or automation email. You can add this URL wherever you want in your email, but the most common place is in the footer next to the unsubscribe link.

Keep in mind that adding this link to the footer will require you to replace the default footer we provide with your own footer (see steps below). You'll know your campaign is using a default footer when you can't make any changes to it.

  1. Open your campaign or automation email.
  2. Drag a 'text box' block just above the standard footer.

    Dragging_text_box_in_email.png

  3. Click on the added text block and type the text that you want to appear to manage subscriptions. For example, you can type: "Click here to manage your subscriptions".
  4. Select the text and click on the link icon in the toolbar.

    Highlight_text_and_add_link.png

  5. Paste the copied URL of your form in the designated field (under 'blocks' on the right side, you can now place the URL under 'Link').

    Processing_link.png

    If you want this form to be automatically filled in with the email address of your contact, type the following at the end of the URL:
    ?email=%EMAIL% 
    If you want this form to be automatically filled in with both the full name and the email address of your contact, type the following at the end of the URL:
    ?fullname=%FULLNAME%&email=%EMAIL%
    In this example, we choose to automatically fill in both the full name and the email address for our contacts. This is how our link looks like:
    https://myacaccount.activehosted.com/f/166?fullname=%FULLNAME%&email=%EMAIL%
  6. To complete the process of replacing the standard footer, you need to add personalization tags for both the unsubscribe link and your sender address. Click in the text block and click on 'Merge tags' in the top toolbar.

    Merge_tags.png

  7. In the pop-up menu, click on 'Message' and then on 'Unsubscribe link'.

    Unsubscribe_link.png

  8. We provide you with a standard text for your unsubscribe link. Of course, you can customize this by changing the text to your preference in the designated field. Click 'OK' when you are done.

    Screenshot_2021-09-06_at_14.57.55.png

  9. Next, you need to add a personalization tag for your sender address. To do this, click again on the text block and then on 'Merge tags' in the menu bar.

  10. In the pop-up menu, click on 'Message' and choose 'Send list information (multiple lines)' or 'List sender info (single line)'.

    Sender_information.png

    A personalization tag will be added to the footer of your email, like:
    %SENDER-INFO-SINGLELINE%.

  11. Click outside the text block and the default footer will disappear. Your own footer will remain visible.

    Learn more about replacing the default footer.


    TIP: Save your content as a Module
    You can save your content as a Module to reuse in future campaigns and automation emails. This will save you time in the future as you won't have to recreate the footer.

  12. Make any additional changes to your email. You will send this email after creating, activating, and testing your automation.

4. Creating an automation that subscribes and unsubscribes contacts to/from your lists

As one of the final steps, you need to create an automation that subscribes and unsubscribes contacts to/from your lists. This should be based on the preferences they have filled in your form.

The automation will consist of a series of linked 'If/Else' steps. Each action will check which field value (list name) the contact has filled in your form. As the contact moves through the 'If/Else' steps, they will be subscribed or unsubscribed to/from your individual marketing lists.

To get started:

  1. Click on 'Automations' to go to the overview of automations.
  2. Click on the 'Create a new automated series' button.
  3. Click on 'Start from scratch' and then click on the 'Continue' button.
  4. The selection menu 'Select a start trigger' will open. Click on the 'A form is filled out' trigger.
  5. The selection menu 'Options for an action' will open, where you can configure the trigger of your automation. Click on the 'Select form' dropdown and click on the subscription preferences form that you have created.
  6. Click on the 'Runs' dropdown and select whether the automation should run 'Once' or 'Multiple times'.
    In this example, we will choose to set the runs to 'Multiple times'. By allowing this multiple times, it is possible to adjust the preferences of a contact each time they resubmit the form. Of course, you can also choose to set the runs to 'Once' if you want the preferences to remain as indicated the first time someone submitted the form. This depends on what is important for your business.
  7. Click on the 'Add a start' button.

    Screenshot_2021-09-06_at_15.07.18.png

  8. Next, we will add an 'If/Else' step to the automation with the following configuration:
    > In the first dropdown, choose your own field created for capturing subscription preferences.
    > In the second dropdown, choose 'Is'.
    > In the third dropdown, choose a custom field value. This is a list name.
  9. Click on the 'Add' button.

    Screenshot_2021-08-30_at_14.45.59.png

  10. The 'If/Else' step will be added to your automation and you will see a 'yes-path' and 'no-path' below. Click on the plus (+) under the 'yes-path'.

    Screenshot_2021-08-30_at_14.49.03.png

  11. The selection menu 'Add a new action' will open. Click on 'Contacts' and then on the 'Subscribe' option.
  12. The selection menu 'Select lists for subscription' will open. Click on the dropdown in this menu and click on the list name used in the 'If/Else' step. Click on the 'Save' button.
  13. The 'Subscribe' action will be added to your automation. Repeat steps 8 to 13 above for each list included in the custom field of your form.
    Note: For multiple lists, use the 'contains' option in the conditions.

    Screenshot_2021-08-30_at_15.21.44.png

  14. Once you have added the 'If/Else' steps for all custom field values, it's time to expand the 'no-paths' of your 'If/Else' steps. The 'no-paths' will unsubscribe contacts from the lists they did not select when submitting the form. Each 'no-path' will consist of an 'Unsubscribe' action and a 'Go to' action. To get started, click on the plus sign (+) below the 'no-path' of your first 'If/Else' step.

    Screenshot_2021-08-30_at_15.22.27.png

  15. The dropdown menu 'Add a new action' will appear. Click on 'Contacts' and then click on 'Unsubscribe'.
  16. The dropdown menu 'Select lists to unsubscribe' will appear. Click on the dropdown in this menu and click on the list name used in the 'If/Else' step. Then click on the 'Save' button. The 'Unsubscribe' action will be added to your automation.

    Screenshot_2021-08-30_at_15.23.40.png

  17. Now we will add the 'Go to' step below the unsubscribe action. Then we will link the 'Go to' action to the next 'If/Else' action. This way, contacts will proceed to the correct next step in the automation after unsubscribing from the first option. To begin, click on the plus sign (+) below the 'Unsubscribe' action.
  18. The dropdown menu 'Add a new action' will appear. Click on 'Conditions and workflow' and then on 'Go to'.
  19. Click on the green target below the 'Go to' action and drag it to the top of the next 'If/Else' step to link them.

    Safari-Email-Automation-by-Ma.gif

  20. Repeat steps 14 to 19 above for each list included in the custom field of your form.
  21. Once you have completed this in your automation, give the automation a name and activate it.

5. Testing the 'manage subscriptions' settings

To test all of this, you can:

  1. Send an email to test contacts including the 'manage subscriptions' link. Each test contact should have an email address that you can reach.
  2. Click on the 'manage subscriptions' link in the email.
  3. Fill out and submit the 'Manage Subscriptions' form.
  4. After a few minutes, check your contact's profile to see which lists they have subscribed to or unsubscribed from. You can also review their journey in the automation.

6. Sending your email

Once you have completed the setup and tested the flow that your test contacts will go through, you are ready to send your email with the 'Manage Subscriptions' link to your contacts.

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