Create an auto responder campaign


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 send a "Check in" message a certain number of days/hours after contacts subscribe to your list.  

Create an auto responder campaign

  1. Click Campaigns on the left menu, then click "Create a Campaign." 
  2. On the next screen:
    • Give your campaign a name
    • Click the "Auto Responder" campaign type
    • Click "Next"
  3. Select the list that will receive the campaign, then click "Next." 
  4. Select a "Template Type." 
  5. If using a predesigned template, mouse over the template you wish to use, then click the "Select" button.
  6. Complete the "Sender Details" in the modal pop-up.
  7. Add your content and modify your message using our Email Designer. When finished, click "Next." 
  8. Note the following configuration settings for the Auto Responder campaign type on the Campaign Summary change. You can modify these settings as needed: 
    • Default Setting: "Send to existing contacts" is turned Off. This means that contacts who already exist on your list will NOT receive this email once you click "Finish."
      • To change this so existing list contacts receive the auto responder email, click the "Send to existing contacts" toggle to set it to the "On" position. The email will send immediately to existing contacts once you click "Finish"
    • Default Setting: "Send to New Contacts" is set to send as soon as they subscribe to your list
      • To change this so that the auto responder sends several days or hours after a list subscription, click the "Send to new contacts" dropdown, then click "after a specific timeframe." Type the number of days or hours that the auto responder should wait before it is sent to contacts when they subscribe to your list
  9. 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 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 once. 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 (Version 1 of the API only). 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 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 are NOT sent to contacts if imported to your ActiveCampaign account via CSV file or the "Copy and Paste" import option. 

After a specific timeframe

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

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. Open your campaign from the Campaign Overview page.
  2. Click the gear icon located on the top right of the email designer.
  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 doneupdatingn 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 anytime.

  1. From the Campaigns Overview page, locate the auto responder campaign you wish to disable. 
  2. Click the down caret next to the campaign's "Edit" button. 
  3. Click the "Disable" option. 
  4. A confirmation window will appear. Click "OK."

Will my auto responder be sent to existing list subscribers?

If you create 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," 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 ten days after they subscribe to your list, then anyone who subscribed to your list less than ten days ago will receive the auto responder campaign ten days after their respective subscription dates.

However, any contacts added to your list longer than ten days ago will not receive the campaign. If you wish to send the campaign to all contacts added more than ten days before creating this auto responder campaign, you can create 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.

Note that this only works with Version 1 of the API

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