How to manage unsubscribes and list associations in automations

Marketing_Lite_Plus_Professional_Enterprise

With ActiveCampaign, you can manage unsubscribes in automations using the automation list association dropdown in the "Manage Emails" button. The automation list association dropdown allows you to use list associations to manage what list(s) contacts are unsubscribed from when they click the unsubscribe link.

This article outlines how unsubscribes work in automations and how to use the automation list association feature.

Take Note

  • This feature was released on February 22, 2024. You can find details about how it affects existing automations in the FAQ section
  • Users will only see the lists they have permission to view in the “Manage Email” dropdown

How to manage automation list associations

  1. Open an automation and click the “Manage Emails” button.
  2. In the modal, the automation list association dropdown shows you the list(s) currently assigned to the automation. Click or unclick the checkboxes to adjust the automation list association and what list(s) a contact should be unsubscribed from within the current automation.
  3. Click the “Done” button to save your selection(s).

    Example Manage Emails Button List Associations.png

  Automation list associations are currently managed on an individual automation level. You cannot assign lists to automations in bulk.

How automation list associations and unsubscribes work

Automation list associations are the list(s) selected in an automation's automation list association dropdown. The automation list association dropdown can be found by clicking the "Manage Email" button.

Automation list associations determine what list(s) customers unsubscribe in an automation. So when a contact unsubscribes from a campaign within your automation, they unsubscribe from the list(s) selected in the automation list association dropdown.

However, some automation triggers and actions affect the list association process for handling an unsubscribe. The sections below will outline how a trigger or action affects what list(s) a contact is unsubscribed from when moving through an automation.

Default list associations

When creating a new automation, the automation will automatically be set to “All Lists” or all the existing lists in an account. This means that a contact entering the automation will be unsubscribed from all lists when they click unsubscribe from a Campaign sent from that automation. This is what an “All Lists configuration would look like:

How triggers impact automation list associations and unsubscribes

There are a few automation triggers that will overwrite the default behavior above. These triggers automatically add list associations to the automation and also change the unsubscribe behavior.

Also, when these triggers are added to an automation, contacts will unsubscribe from the lists associated with those triggers in addition to the lists defined in the “Manage Emails” dropdown. Because these list associations are assigned via the trigger, they can only be removed or changed by modifying or deleting the associated trigger.

When you have these triggers assigned to an automation, you will see a pre-selected configuration in your list dropdown like below. When hovering on this selection, you will see the triggers or actions that are modifying your automation list associations:

Example Manage Emails button with list associated to triggers in the automation.png

Triggers that impact automation list associations and unsubscribes

The following triggers will update list associations for an automation when added:

List Triggers

Applies to the following triggers: “Subscribes to a list,” “Unsubscribes from a List”

When a specific list is configured for either of these triggers, the chosen list will be associated with the automation and used for unsubscribing the contact. When the trigger is configured for “any” list, the list that triggered the automation will be used for unsubscribing the contact.

Form Triggers

Applies to the following trigger: “Submits a form”

If the form chosen for the “Submits a form” trigger also has a "Subscribes to a list" action, then the list(s) chosen in the “Subscribes to a list” form action will be associated to the trigger in the automation and used for unsubscribing the contact.

Campaign Triggers

Applies to the following triggers: “Opens an email,” “Replies to an email,” “Forwards an email,” “Shares an email,” “Clicks a link in an email”

The list(s) the selected Campaign was sent to will be associated with the automation. When the trigger is configured for “any” campaign, the list(s) that the triggering Campaign was sent to will be used for unsubscribing the contact.

How “Subscribe to list” actions impact list associations and unsubscribes

Adding a “Subscribe to list” action in an automation will also affect the list associations configured in the automation in the following ways:

  • If a contact entering an automation has reached the subscribe action before unsubscribing, then the list(s) configured in this action will be used for unsubscribing the contact.
  • If the contact has not reached the action when unsubscribing, the lists configured in the action will not be used in the unsubscribe process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to contacts who are not on a list that is associated with an automation that they enter?

The contact will be treated as if they are subscribed to the selected list(s) in that automation. If they receive a campaign from the automation and unsubscribe, they will be unsubscribed from the selected list(s). The unsubscribe action will be noted on the contact record and contact activity stream.

Note that this does not mean the contact is automatically subscribed to the selected list(s) upon entering the automation.

What happens to contacts who manually enter an automation and unsubscribe?

They will respect the list configurations made in the automation list association dropdown.

However, if the only configuration saved in the automation list association dropdown is referencing triggers that have assigned list associations, we will have no list information to assign to that contact when entering the automation. This is because the contact entered manually and not through the trigger. In this scenario, the contact will be unsubscribed from all lists.

To prevent this from happening, we recommend manually adding a list association to automations that only have a trigger-related list association. The list association can be any list, including the same list you have configured in your trigger. The selected list will become the default unsubscribe path for contacts who enter manually.

What happens to contacts who are currently in an automation when I change the automation list associations?

Contacts are assigned the list associations at the time they enter the automation. This means that contacts in an automation won't be affected by any changes made to the list associations of that automation. The contacts will continue to respect the automation list associations that existed when they entered the automation.

Why can’t a user see all my lists in the automation list association dropdown?

That user may not have permission to view all lists. If a user is in a group that does not have access to all lists, then they will only see the lists that are made available to that user group. Learn how to set user permissions in user groups.

How does this feature affect my current automations?

Existing automations are generally unaffected (see the next question for entering automation action changes). This additional functionality will give you more precise control over list associations and unsubscribe logic within automations.

How does this change affect contacts who have entered an automation via a “Start an automation” action and their previous list associations?

At the time of this release (February 22, 2024), contacts who enter automations from a “Start an automation” action will no longer carry the list associations established from the previous automation. This behavior was previously supported but has since been replaced by adding the list association control to automations.

Was this article helpful?
6 out of 10 found this helpful

Have more questions? Submit a request

Start free trial