How can I let contacts manage their subscriptions in ActiveCampaign?

If you have multiple email marketing lists, you can let contacts manage their own list subscriptions when they receive your email. This is a great way to nurture engagement and improve the customer experience for your contacts.

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

Take note

This setup involves the following steps:

  1. Creating a custom contact field to collect subscription preferences
  2. Creating a Subscription Preferences form
  3. Adding the Subscription Preferences form to your email
  4. Creating an automation that will subscribe and unsubscribe contacts from your lists
  5. Testing the "Manage subscriptions" set up
  6. Sending your email

Create a custom contact field

To collect subscription preferences from your contacts, you'll first need to create a custom contact field. This field will be a check box field and will ask contacts which list they wish to subscribe to. Each field value, or answer option, will be a list name. Because it's a checkbox field, contacts will be able to subscribe to as many of your lists as they like by clicking more than one option. For each box left unchecked for a list, they will be given an unsubscribed status.

Create a Subscription Preferences form

For the next step, you'll need to create a form and add your newly created custom field to it.

  • The form type will need to be an inline form. Custom fields can only be added to inline forms
  • This form will use an "Add a Tag" action. Once the form is submitted, this tag will be added to any contact who submits your form
  • Opt-in confirmation emails will not be sent once the form is submitted 

1. Click "Forms" to navigate to the Forms Overview page.

2. Click the "Create a Form" button.

3. In the "Create a Form" modal, type the name of the form into the field provided. The "inline" form type will already be selected for you.

4. Click the action dropdown then click "Add a tag."

5. Type the tag into the "Options" field. This tag will be added to contacts when they submit your form and will add them to your automation.

6. Click the "Create" button.

7. The Form Builder will open. Locate the custom field you created to collect list subscription preferences. It will be under "My Fields" in the right menu.

8. Drag and drop the field into your form.

9. Make any additional modifications to your form. Changes you make to the form will automatically save.

10. Next, you'll need to retrieve the form's URL so you can add it to your email later. To do so, click the "Integrate" button then click the "Link" tab. Copy the form URL.

Add the Subscription Preferences form to your email

Now, you'll need add the Form URL you copied and paste it to your campaign or automation email. This URL can be added to any section of your communication, but it is most commonly found in the footer near the Unsubscribe link.

Note that adding this link to the footer will require you to replace the default footer we provide with your own (steps outlined below). You'll know if your campaign is using a default footer if you cannot make any modifications to it.

1. Open your campaign or automation email.

2. Drag and drop a text content block above the default footer.

3. Click into that content block and type the text that you want to appear for your manage subscriptions link. For example, you can type, “Click here to manage your subscriptions.”

4. Highlight the text and click the link icon in the modal toolbar

5. Paste the manage subscriptions form link into the link field provided.

If you wish to autofill the form fields with a contact’s full name and email address, type the following at the end of the link:

?fullname=%FULLNAME%&email=%EMAIL%

If you just want to autofill a contact’s email address on the form, type the following at the end of the link:

?email=%EMAIL%

In this example, we’re going to autofill both the full name and email address fields for our contacts. This is how our link will look:

https://myacaccount.activehosted.com/f/166?fullname=%FULLNAME%&email=%EMAIL%

6. When finished, click the "OK" button.

7. To complete the process of replacing the default footer, you'll need to add the personalization tags for both the Unsubscribe link and your sender address. Click back into the content block and click “Personalize” in the modal toolbar:

8. In the modal pop up, click “Message” then click “Unsubscribe Link.”

9. We'll provide default text for your unsubscribe link. However, you can change it by typing your preferred text into the field provided. Click "OK" when finished.

10.  Next, you’ll need to add a personalization tag for your sender address. To do so, click the content block again and click the “Personalize” option in the modal toolbar.

11. In the modal pop up, click “Message” and then choose from either “List Sender Info (multiple lines)” or “List Sender Info (single line)” by clicking it.

A personalization tag will be added to your email footer:

12. Click out of that content block and the default footer will disappear. Your own footer will remain.

Learn more about replacing the default footer.

Tip: Save your content to the Content Library

You can save this footer in your content library to use in future campaigns and automation emails. Doing so will save you time as you will not need to re-create each step above.

Learn how to save content to a content library.

13. Make any additional changes to your email. You'll want to send this email after you create, activate, and test your automation.

Create an automation that will subscribe and unsubscribe contacts from your lists

As a last step, you’ll need to create an automation that will both subscribe contacts to and unsubscribe them from your lists based on the preferences they submitted to your form.

This automation will include a series of nested "If/Else" actions. Each action will check which field value (list name) the contact selected on your form. As the contact moves through each "If/Else" actions, they will either be subscribed to or unsubscribed from each of your email marketing lists. 

To get started:

1. Click “Automations” to navigate to the Automations Overview page.

2. Click the "New Automation" button.

3. Click "Start from Scratch" and click the "Continue" button.

4. The "Add a Start Trigger" modal will open. Click the "Submits a form" trigger then click "Continue."

5. The "Action Options" modal will open and you'll be able to configure your automation trigger settings. Click the "Select form" dropdown and click the subscription preferences form you created.

6. Click the "Runs" dropdown and choose if the automation should run once or multiple times.

In this example, we’re going to choose “Runs multiple times.” Choosing multiple times will allow us to update a contact’s preferences each time they submit this specific form. However, depending on your own business needs, you can set it to run once if you only want to update a contact’s preferences the first time they submit your form.

7. Click the "Add Start" button.

8. Next we’re going to add an “If/Else” statement to the automation with the following configuration:

  • For the first dropdown, choose the custom field you created to capture list subscription preferences
  • For the second dropdown, select the "Contains" operator
  • For the third dropdown, choose a custom field value. This will be a list name

9. Click the "Add" button.

10. The "If/Else" action will be added to your automation and you'll see a "Yes" path and a "No" path beneath it. Click the node (+) under the "Yes" path.

11. The "Add a New Action" modal will open. Click "Contacts" then click the "Subscribe" option.

12. A "Select lists to subscribe to" modal window will open. Click the dropdown in the modal and click the list name that was used in the "If/Else" action. Then click the "Save" button.

13. The "Subscribe to list" action will be added to your automation. Repeat steps 8-13 outlined above for each list option contained in your form's custom field.

14. Once you have added “If/Else” action for each custom field value, it’s time to build the “No” paths of your “If/Else” actions. The "No" paths will unsubscribe contacts from each list they did not select when they submitted your form. 

Each "No" path will contain an "Unsubscribe from List" action and a "Go To" action. 

To get started, click the node (+) under the "No" path for your first "If/Else" action.

15. The "Add a New Action" modal will open. Click "Contacts" then click the "Unsubscribe" option

16. A "Select lists to unsubscribe from" modal window will open. Click the dropdown in the modal and click the list name that was used in the "If/Else" action. Then click the "Save" button.

The "Unsubscribe from list" action will be added to your automation. 

17. Now we're going to add a "Go To" action below the unsubscribe action. Then we're going to connect that "Go To" action to the next "If/Else" action. That way, once a contact is unsubscribed from the first option, they'll move right to the next step in your automation.  

To get started, click the node (+) under the "Unsubscribe" action.

18. The "Add a new action" modal will open. Click "Conditions and Workflow" then click "Go To."

19. Click the green target under the "Go To" action and drag it to the top of the next "If/Else" action.  

20. Repeat steps 14-19 outlined above for each list option contained in your form's custom field.

21. Once you've finished completing your automation, give it a name and activate it. 

Test the "Manage your subscription" set up

To test this you can:

1. Send the email containing a link to your Manage Subscription preferences form to a list of test contacts. Each test contact should have an email address you can access.  

2. Click the "Manage subscriptions" link contained in the email.

3. Complete and submit the "Manage subscriptions" form.

4. After a few moments, check the test contact's profile record to see which lists they were subscribed to and unsubscribed from. You can also check their path in the automation. 

Send your email

Once you completed the setup and tested the flow that contacts will go through, you are ready to send the email containing the "Manage subscriptions" link to your contacts. 

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