Before you import your contacts or create a sign up form you should determine if you need to use "interests" or "subscriptions" to segment your list - or both - and if you need to create custom fields and filters.
Segments are primarily used to send customized communications so your contacts receive content that is relevant to them: Send product updates to users, annual reports to stakeholders, etc.
Subscriptions are used to manage communication preferences that your contacts can change on their own via a signup form (opt-in) and on the “unsubscribe” page (opt-out).
Note: It’s not mandatory to use subscriptions; if you don’t offer multiple types of emails you don’t need to use subscriptions. (You will find more information about this further down on this page.)
Interests are much more versatile and can be used as "tags" to create ad-hoc segments, manage lists you don’t want your contacts to change on their own and storing "yes/no" question type data.
It’s highly recommended you add at least one interest to every contact in your database as you import them so you can segment them easily.
Additional details about interests and subscriptions
- Each contact in your database can have multiple interests or subscriptions.
- Both interests and subscriptions are "yes/no" type fields with pre-set answers. This is why they are shown as checkboxes or drop down selectors on forms. If you want to store custom input with no pre-determined answers then you should use custom fields. Custom fields can be part of filters just like interests and subscriptions.
You can use filters to create a custom segment that's made up of a combination of subscriptions and interests and other fields.
Contact creation sources
Contact creation sources indicate how contacts were originally acquired - not what list they belong to. Contact creation sources are set when a contact is added to your database for the first time (think of it like the place of birth for your contacts) and they don’t change when existing contacts are updated via a re-import, new form submission, etc.
Do I even need to create subscriptions?
If you send the same type of content to every contact in your database then your contacts don't have a choice to choose what kind of messages they want to receive. They can only choose to unsubscribe from getting any email from you. In this case you don't need to setup subscriptions. Not even one. Just leave your list of subscriptions blank. Contacts can still opt out from receiving emails from you.
If you have different types of content (for example newsletters, promotional offers, annual reports, event invites, etc) and want your contacts to be able to control which of these content types they want to receive from you then you should create multiple subscriptions. Contacts will have the option to opt-in/out from various subscriptions or unsubscribe from all emails.
Creating new subscriptions
Watch a one-minute video to learn how to create subscriptions.
Adding contacts to the right segment
Each form should include fields to ensure contacts are added to the right segment. These fields can be visible or hidden.
Each time you import a list you should also tag them with the appropriate subscription or interest.
Common list segments and which field to use to track them
- Geography: Use contact fields for country, state/province or city
- Job title: Use contact field call "job title"
- Content topic: Use subscriptions
- Industry: Use interests
- Lead details: Use interests