How we: Created opt-in and opt-out for specific email send lists without involving subscriptions

Learn how we created granular opt in/out to email newsletters for BabelQuest.

Email subscriptions can be a real hassle to manage if you are running multiple newsletter or types of email sends. A contact may only be interested in one type of email, but if you leave it for them to opt in/out of subscriptions, you may end up losing them altogether as a subscriber when they can’t say no to a specific email type.

To make it simple – use just one subscription type for all marketing email sends, and allow the contact to opt-in and out of specific send lists for the different emails.

This setup can be achieved using workflows, static lists, CTAs, and smart content modules on a landing page. There are a lot of components to build it out, but once set up requires little maintenance.

You will create:

  1. Static send list for an email type
  2. Two Active lists for managing opt in and opt out
  3. Two CTAs for managing opt in and opt out
  4. A workflow for adding or removing contacts from the static send lists
  5. A subscription page

Needed tools: HubSpot landing page, Workflows, Marketing emails, CTAs, Lists

How to build the opt-in/opt-out automation

  1. Create a static send list for each newsletter or email send type. For example, ‘Newsletter’, ‘HubSpot Updates’ and ‘RSS blog email’.
  2. Create two CTAs for each of the send lists. One CTA has the purpose of ‘Opt in’ and the other ‘Opt out’. Be clear with naming so you can easily tell them apart. After setting up the landing page (see steps further down) - add that when clicking the CTA, you will be taken back to the subscription page.
  3. Create two Active lists for each of the Static send lists. One list has the purpose of gathering contacts who have clicked the CTA for ‘Opt in’ and who are not yet members of the Static send list. The other list will gather contacts who have clicked the CTA for ‘Opt out’ and who are members of the Static send list.
    1. Optional! You can also add an extra filter that they have clicked the CTA less than 1 day ago.
  4. Create separate workflows for each of the static lists. Set enrolment to:  Is a member of Active list 1 OR Active list 2. Activate re-enrolment so they can go through the workflow again if they are added to either list.
  5. First action is an if/then statement: Check list membership - Contact is member of the Active ‘Opt in’ list. 
  6. Branch: If member of list for Opt-in → Subscribe contact to marketing information. → Add to static send list.
  7. Branch: No criteria met → Remove from static send list.

Note! The reason we are adding active lists to the workflow is because we want contacts to be able to opt in/out more than once. If we skip this step and just add enrolment based on clicking the CTAs, their list membership to the send lists can only be updated once.

Workflow for static list: The workflow that will remove/add contacts to the send list for this particular newsletter.

How to build the subscription page

  1. Create a landing page. Here you want to display which newsletters or email sends a Contact can subscribe to. Use images or text to show what the different email types offer.
  2. Add a CTA module. Here, you will add in the CTAs for subscribing to the send list for that email type. 
  3. Make the CTA module a SMART module. Create a rule based on list membership. ‘Default’ should show CTA for opt-in. If ‘List membership is member of Send list for the email type’, show the CTA for opt-out.
  4. Now, based on if a Contact belongs to the send list they will have the option to opt-in or opt-out. Clicking the CTA will reload the page, and activate the workflow for updating their preferences.

A view of the email subscriptions page. the text links stating 'You are subscribed. Click here to stop getting these emails.' are Call-to-actions and will show different text depending on if the Contact is on the static send list or not.

Which subscription(s) do they start with?

When you’ve set up the subscriptions page and the automation for managing adding/removing contacts from the different send lists, the final thing you need to decide is how you manage the initial opt in.

To keep your build simple and clutter free, make sure this is handled by a separate workflow.

  • If you have a form for newsletter signup – will that add them to all send lists, or just a chosen few?
  • How do you handle form submissions that opt-in to Marketing emails – will they not be added to some, all, or no send lists at all?

Adding that extra touch

The basic components are the automation for adding/removing from send lists and the subscription page. Other components for better email health and experience worth considering are:

  1. A confirmation email that is sent to new subscribers. This can involve smart CTAs so they can opt-in/out to other email types from the email itself, or have them visit the subscriptions page.
  2. Email fatigue automation. Automatically remove contacts from send lists if they are not opening/interacting with emails you send. Send them a re-engagement email to see if they want to stay opted in or not.
  3. Consider adding rules to the workflow to remove any Contact you would normally have on an exclusion list for receiving marketing emails, such as competitors.