How to Set Up a Custom Subscription Management Center

  • Updated

Subscription Management is a feature that allows your Contacts to choose the marketing content that they wish to receive. Marketing Users can then send messages by category to provide targeted messaging without having to use segments. This has demonstrated to reduce the likelihood a contact will opt out or unsubscribe from your messages.

Act-On provides a generic Subscription Management page, however you may wish to build your own Subscription Management form instead of using Act-On's form. This guide provides the step-by-step process you can follow to set up your own custom Subscription Management workflow.


  • Your account must have the Subscription Management feature. To confirm, go to Contacts > Subscription Management
    • If this option is not available, contact Support to enable the feature.
  • Defined Subscription Categories that your Contacts can subscribe to. These define the subject matter of the content in your marketing emails. Best practices include topics like:
    • Newsletters
    • Promotions and Offers
    • Product updates


To set up a Custom Subscription Management center, you will complete the following tasks:

  1. Set Up Subscription Management Categories and Subscribe to them with a test contact
  2. Build a custom Subscription Management Form, and embed it on a Landing Page or your website
  3. Update your Email Footers

Step 1: Set Up Subscription Categories

This step sets up your Subscription Categories and a Subscription Management List so that you can select a Subscription Category when composing an email.

You will first turn on Subscription Management, add your categories, send a test email, and subscribe to your categories with a test contact.

  1. Go to Contacts > Subscription Management
  2. Click the toggle icon to turn the feature on: mceclip5.png
  3. Add all of your Subscription Categories 
  4. Click Save
  5. Send yourself a test message
  6. Open the test message from your inbox, and click the Opt-Out link in the footer. This will redirect you to the Subscription Management category opt-in page.
  7. Check the boxes to opt-in to all Subscription Categories and click Update Settings.
    This step activates and adds the Subscription Management List. If you skip this step, your Custom Subscription Management Center will be unable to add your contacts' Subscription Category preferences.
  8. Go to Contacts > Other Lists > Account Lists  and open the Subscription Management List.
  9. Confirm your test email and preferences show in the list (eg "true" for all Categories)

Step 2: Build a Custom Subscription Management Form

  1. Navigate to Content > Forms, and create a new form.
  2. In the Properties tab of the Form Composer:
    • Title:  “Custom Subscription Management”
    • List: Select the Subscription Management list (located under Account Lists)
  3. Add a Response Page of your choice
  4. In the Design tab, add Text Box fields mceclip0.png for:
    • First Name
    • Last Name
    • E-mail Address (or other Standard Field Name that you use, such as Email)
      • This field should be validated & required: mceclip1.png
  5.  Add a Combo Box mceclip1.png field for each Category with the following settings:
    • Click the asterisk at the top of the column to make each field required
    • Text Label: enter the Category name and Description for display
    • Field Name and Column Name must match the Subscription Categories you set up
    • Use the Radio type
    • Check the box for Clear Defaults
      This ensures the contact makes a selection instead of accidentally accepting a default value
    • Under Values, add two row:
      • Label: "Yes" and Value:true
      • Label: "No" and Value:false
    • When you are done, each field should look like this:
  6. Once you are done building your form, place it on a Landing Page or embed it directly on your website.
  7. Save the link for later - you will need to add it to your Email Footers.
  8. Test the form by subscribing a test contact to all categories and submitting.

A completed form with multiple Categories could look like this:


Tip! Even though you will be using a custom form in your Email Footer, you may still wish to customize the Subscription Management page. Emails that you have already sent most likely include the standard Opt-Out link, which will take your Contacts to this page.

Alternatively, you can turn Subscription Management off: mceclip6.png

If you do this, you will not have the Subscription Category drop-down when sending a message. To send messages to your Contacts by category, you must set up your Custom Subscription Management Form with it's own Form Submission List. Then, create List Segments of Contacts with "true" values for each Category. 


Step 3: Update your Email Footers

Once you are ready to deploy your Custom Subscription Management form, your Email Footers must be updated with the correct links:

  1. Go to Content > Email Footers
  2. Edit or create a new Custom Footer
  3. In the HTML Version, add two links:
    • A link to your new Custom Subscription Management Form
    • Add or Update the the Opt-Out link. Use the direct Opt-Out: {{Env.OptOutDirect}}
      Act-On now provides three options for Opt-Out links. Do not use the standard Opt-Out link! This sends Contacts to the default Subscription Management form. For more information on Opt-Out links, see our article here: How to Add an Opt-Out Link
  4. Update the Plain Text version by clicking Generate Text Footer from HTML
  5. Click Save
  6. Hover over your new Custom Footer and click Make Default

Your new Custom Footer will now be selected by default for new Email Messages and Email Templates.

Step 4: Update your Existing Act-On Email Content

Next, we recommend reviewing updating Email Footers throughout your library of email content. This includes messages in the following locations:

  • Content > Email Templates
  • Outbound > Drafts
  • Outbound > Other Messages > Triggered Messages:
    • Form Confirmation messages
    • Automated Program messages
    • Webinar messages
    • Other messages
  • Outbound > RSS to Email
Tip! You may wish to run a one-time email campaign for your Leads/Contacts. Announce the new Subscription Center and ask them to respond with their preferences.


Next Steps: Send Messages to Each Category

Once you have Contacts who have subscribed to your categories, you can send a message to contacts by category.

See this article for more information: How to Send Emails to Subscription Categories.

FAQs and Troubleshooting

Can I send this data to my CRM?

Yes, you can use the form settings to send this data to your CRM. Your CRM Administrator would need to create fields that are identical to the Categories in Act-On. Each field should accept the Boolean values true/false.

Can I use checkboxes instead of radio buttons in my form design?

Yes. However, this is a more complicated setup because it changes the data that the form records. Subscription Management needs False values. Additional steps are necessary for Subscription Management to function as expected, such as using list maintenance programs. We only recommended this for advanced users. See more details in this related community post.

Can I add or remove categories after setting this up?

Yes. To make changes, do this in the following order:

  1. Go to Contacts > Subscription Management to add or remove categories
  2. Go to Content > Forms and edit your Custom Subscription Management Form to add or remove fields that match the categories
  3. Go to Contacts > Other Lists > Account Lists and open the Subscription Management List to confirm the columns are correct.

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