Auto responder campaigns

An auto responder campaign is one of six campaign types and is used to send a one-time email to contacts after they subscribe to your list. You can use this campaign type to send a "Welcome" message to contacts as soon as they subscribe to your list, or use it to send a "Check in" message a certain number of days/hours after contacts subscribe to your list.  

How auto responder campaigns work

An auto responder campaign is sent to individual contacts as they subscribe to your list; it will not send to your entire list at one time. Auto responder campaigns do not have any additional automation capabilities.

This campaign type can be configured to send to contacts in one of two ways from the Campaign Summary page:


This means that the new subscriber will be sent your auto responder campaign as soon as they subscribe to your list.  

Immediate auto responder campaigns are only triggered to send to contacts if they are subscribed to your list in one of the following ways:

  • When a contact submits a form you created in ActiveCampaign.
  • When a contact encounters a "Subscribe" action in an automation.
  • When a contact clicks a link in an email that has a "Subscribe to List" link action.
  • When a contact is added to your account through an API call. Instaresponders[123] parameter must be set to 1.
  • When an account user creates a new contact from the Contacts overview page. (Account user must select "Send instant autoresponder" if it's an auto responder that is configured to send immediately upon subscription. This is enabled under "Advanced List Options" when creating a new contact).
  • When contacts are added to a list using the bulk editor.
  • When subscribing a contact to a list from their contact profile page.

Immediate auto responder campaigns will NOT be sent to contacts if they are subscribed to your list in one of the following ways:

  • When contacts are imported to a list (csv file or copy & paste import).

After a specific timeframe

This means that the auto responder will be sent to a new list subscriber after a certain number of days and/or hours after subscribing to your list. It does not matter how they were subscribed to your list.

How to create an auto responder campaign

1. Click on Campaigns on the left navigation menu and click “New Campaign” on the top right of your screen.

2. Give your campaign a name and select “Auto Responder” as the campaign type. Click “Next.”


3. Select the list you wish to create the auto responder for and click “Next." Only contacts who subscribe to this list will be sent the auto responder campaign.

4. Select your desired template by clicking “Use This Design.” You will be able to choose from a pre-designed template, create a campaign from scratch, or re-use a past campaign. For more information on our design formats, please visit this help document.

5. Type your sender details and subject line into the modal pop-up and click “Continue.” You can change your sender details and subject line at any time.

6. Add your content and modify your message using our Email Designer.  Click “Next.” For a detailed overview on how to use our Email Designer to create a campaign, view this help document.

7. On the Campaign Summary page, you will configure the auto responder settings:

"Send to existing contacts" is turned Off by default.
This means that contacts who already exist on your list will NOT receive this email once you click "Finish."

If you want to send this auto responder to contacts who already exist on your list in addition to future contacts as they subscribe, click the "Send to existing contacts" toggle. The email will then be sent to existing contacts immediately when you click "Finish."

"Send to New Contacts" is set to send immediately by default. 
To send the auto responder a certain number of days or hours after a contact subscribes to your list instead, click the "Send to new contacts" dropdown and click "after a specific timeframe." Then type the number of days and hours that the auto responder should wait before it is sent to contacts when they subscribe to your list.

8. Click “Finish” on the top right of the application.

The auto responder campaign will be sent to new list subscribers per your configuration settings.

How to update the subject line and sender details for an auto responder campaign

You can update the subject line and sender details for an auto responder at any time.

To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the design step of your auto responder campaign (where you modify the campaign's content).
  2. Click the gear icon located on the top right of the campaign builder.
  3. The Campaign Settings modal will open. Here you can provide a new subject line, create preheader text, update sender details, add a “Reply to” email address, send yourself a test version of the campaign, and more:

4. Once you're done making updates on the settings modal, click the "Close" button.

5. Click "Next" then click "Save & Exit."

How to disable an auto responder campaign

You can stop an auto responder from sending to new contacts at any time.

To do so:

1. From the Campaigns Overview page, click the down caret for the auto responder you wish to disable.

2. Click "Disable" in the list of options.

3. A confirmation window will appear. Click "OK."

Will my auto responder be sent to existing list subscribers?

If you are creating an auto responder campaign that uses a list with pre-existing subscribers, they will only receive your auto responder if you toggle the “Send to Existing Contacts” option to “On.”

If you leave the "Send to Existing Contacts" option "Off," then your existing contacts will not receive your auto responder campaign.

This setting is located on the Campaign Summary page for your auto responder campaign.

If you create an auto responder campaign today that will be sent to contacts 10 days after they subscribe to your list, then anyone who has subscribed to your list less than 10 days ago will receive the auto responder campaign 10 days after their respective subscription dates.

However, any contacts who were added to your list longer than 10 days ago will not receive the campaign. If you wish to send the campaign to all contacts added more than 10 days prior to creating this auto responder campaign, you can do so by creating a list segment.

Advanced: Why wasn't my instant auto responder sent when using the API?

Our software offers many ways to add new contacts to the system, one of which is through our open API.

If you have written a custom script using our contact_add() or contact_edit() API functions, and you find that your new contacts are not receiving instant auto responders, a common problem is that the API function’s variables are not set correctly. Double-check your script, and make sure that the “instantresponders” variable is set to 1 (NOTE: This would not work with Free plans). Also, make sure that the “noresponders” variable is not set, or is set to 0.

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