HubSpot email marketing normally works like a dream, right? Lately though, we've been seeing some issues with emails not sending. We're seen the impact range from irritating (nurturing content not making it to a prospect) to severe (a contracts email not being sent in time to secure work!) What's the deal?

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GDPR is changing email marketing on HubSpot

Now this isn't down to any technical issues or server outages, but instead the GDPR subscription type processes that Hubspot brought in last year. This process is quite simple and necessary for GDPR consent, however many don't understand how it works and to be honest it hasn't been explained very well! In this blog, we want to prevent any more nasty surprises by explaining these subscription types and giving clear direction on gathering consent.

Subscription types represent the lawful basis to communicate with your contacts through email. In reality, all contacts can manage their email preferences so they're only opted into emails they want to receive, but how many of us do this?

In the "age of digital consent" just landing on a webpage sometimes feels like you're getting hit with spam popups from the 90s. These are actually just consent forms, cookies preferences and more.

What Hubspot has done is add consent notifications to forms, allowing you to manage contacts preferences based on their behaviours.

If you have GDPR tools enabled in your account and select the checkbox 'Only allow marketing emails to be sent to contacts who have a legal basis to communicate', emails can only be sent to contacts who have an opted-in status. Emails will not be delivered to contacts who have opted-out, but more importantly, they won't be delivered to contacts who are simply not opted-in to that subscription type.

So, now you can add a consent tick box or notification to a content download form, which indicates that by completing the form or clicking the box leads are consenting to marketing communications. What this means is that all forms need to be matched to the intent of the follow-up actions. Otherwise, your workflows will jam.

For example, a person may fill in a download form, but without you gathering their consent for marketing materials, HubSpot will stop your carefully planned lead nurturing process.

 

How subscription preferences and types work

As we said above, consent is in the hands of the consumer, and they can opt out at any point. But let's be real, how many of us actively do this on every website? Rather than relying solely on opt-out functionality, subscription types capture three states that clearly represent a contact's consent to communicate. 

For each subscription type, contacts may have any of the following three statuses:

* Opted in
* Not opted in or out (default)
* Opted out

Contacts now need to be opted in for each type of proposed activity, be it sales, marketing or service led activities.

The status for each subscription type is stored in the communication subscriptions section on the left side of the HubSpot contact record. Subscription type statuses can be updated manually for an individual, in bulk with a workflow, or via API. However, we recommend you gather this information using forms, as running a bulk update can leave you on somewhat shaky legislative ground.

Some contacts may not have fully opted in, and whilst you may have a legitimate interest in contacting them, best practice requires you capture active consent. Subscription types also include both a process and operation to clearly define the role they play in communicating with your business.

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Setting up subscription types

Email subscription types can be created and managed from your settings:
  • In your HubSpot account, click the settings icon settings in the main navigation bar.
  • In the left sidebar menu, click Marketing> Email.
  • Click the Subscription Types tab.
  • Click Create subscription type.
  • If you have enabled GDPR functionality in your account, select or add a Process and Operation for this subscription type.
  • Enter a name and a brief description of how this subscription type will be used.
  • If this subscription type is currently active, select the This subscription type is active checkbox.
  • Click Save. 
  • On the Subscription Types tab, click a subscription type and drag and drop it into position to re-order your subscription types. This controls the order that subscription types appear on your subscription preferences page.

To make changes to a subscription type's information, hover over the type and click Edit. Make changes as needed, then click Save.
 

Manage contact properties for subscription types


Once you've created a new subscription type, a corresponding Opted out of email: [Email Subscription Type] contact property will be created.

While the property will be visible on contact records immediately, existing contacts will not have a property value set until one of the following occurs:

  • The contact is merged with another contact.
  • The contact has its email address property changed.
  • The contact explicitly opts-in to or opts-out from that email type.
  • An integration (i.e., public API) explicitly marks the contact as opted-in to or opted-out from that email type.
  • Any changes to the subscription type will update this existing contact property. Renaming a subscription type will cause the corresponding property to be renamed. Marking a subscription type as inactive will cause the corresponding property to be hidden from the contact record, and vice versa.
     

Setting up subscription types on forms


If you want to collect GDPR consent on your forms directly, navigate to the form in question and select edit. You will be brought to the form edit screen.

  • Navigate to the left of the screen to the form fields navigation and select "notice and consent / legitimate interest (GDPR)" from the menu. This will give you the option to add in consent boxes and text that can be changed to include checkboxes for explicit consent, alongside several other options to suit how your company wants to set up its consent processes.
  • Once you have selected your field, navigate to the right, select your GDPR text then go back to the left and you will have your edit settings for the field. Here, amend your consent text as required by your company.
  • This will need to align to the activity you are running elsewhere, so for example if this form relates to marketing activity, ensure that you collect consent for all types of marketing emails. If it's for sales activity, then focus on the sales emails subscription types.

    And there you have it, all the information you need to set up consent for your campaigns and ensure your automation doesn't hit a wall!

 

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