Subscribes and Unsubscribes in LISTSERV Maestro
The Maestro Subscriber Website is a fully fledged data-maintenance web GUI including data input validation and handling of error cases.
It allows the subscribers to subscribe, unsubscribe and maintain their subscription profiles.
Naturally, the first contact point for a user in the journey to becoming a subscriber of your list is the action to Subscribe. To allow subscribes, the list must be configured to use "Open to Everyone" visibility.
"Open to Everyone" Lists
Lists of this type offer two methods to subscribe:
Subscribe Page: This page (also known as "Signup Form") provides your users with a two-step process (starting with supplying the email address only) that results in the user becoming an Unconfirmed Subscriber. For the Maestro Subscriber Website, an unconfirmed subscriber is treated almost identically to a confirmed subscriber, meaning that such users also have a subscriber account associated with a subscription password and can therefore login and maintain their subscription profile even before confirming the subscription. This confirmation happens via a confirmation email that is sent to the subscriber automatically.
The subscribe page is served by Maestro and is subject to the full layout customization mechanisms that apply to all pages of the subscriber website.
Mini Subscribe Form: Using the mini subscribe form means that you already have a website outside of Maestro and would like to integrate a simple and small email address input form somewhere inline on your website.
A user who visits your website can then simply enter his email address into the input field and click the button, to easily subscribe to your subscriber list. Note: This only removes the very first step of the subscription process from Maestro, namely to show an input field and associated button to a user. Clicking the button then forwards the user to the Maestro subscriber website, so you will want to make this transition visually as smooth as possible by employing subscriber website customization. Such a user will be forwarded to the Subscriber Area page, either immediately or, depending on which address is supplied and whether additional input is required, via the intermediate Step 2 Subscribe Page.
"Access for Subscribers Only" Lists
There are many situations where you would want to disallow public subscribes using any of the methods described above but still would like your subscribers to login and manage their subscription preferences and data. Examples of this include External Subscriber Verification: You want to make sure that no subscriber is added to your list without you checking the subscription first. One reason you may want to choose this route is that you provide content with your mailings that is sensitive in some way, for example because it contains confidential information. You still want to benefit from your subscribers maintaining the profile data for you, which is why you decide against running your list with the Unsubscribes Only setting (see below).
Lists configured in such a way have the following properties:
- Public Subscriber Area: The subscriber area page is visible to the public, and shows the lists
that are available to subscribe. But initially, the subscribers do not have a password and cannot login to the
subscriber area because their subscriber record has been added by you, either manually or by using a subscriber import from
an external source. So usually, the first action of a subscriber who was added by you to your list, when viewing the
"not logged in" variant of the subscriber area page, will be to use the Define Password Page,
which allows the user to set a password and confirm this via an email round-trip, much similar to a double opt-in confirmation.
Once logged in, such users can always decide to unsubscribe. (Or, if you include the
*UnsubscribeURLdrop-in in your messages, use this link without the need to login). Note that the method to define a password via the Define Password Page is also used if a user does not remember the subscription password or did not supply one during the initial subscription because you decided so.
- Public Unsubscribe: Using either the login page (see above) or, if you include the
*UnsubscribeURLdrop-in in your messages, any subscriber of a list in Maestro can unsubscribe.
"Unsubscribes Only" Lists
A key feature of a list that is "for subscribers only" or "open to everyone" is the public availability of the
Subscriber Area page (and associated other pages). You may have reasons to not even allow your
subscribers to login in order to manage their subscription. Using this setting effectively means that the
*UnsubscribeURL drop-in is the only method for a user to unsubscribe without your
active participation. Or, in other words: Not using the
*UnsubscribeURL with such
a list means that users can not unsubscribe. You should consider carefully before operating a list in this mode.
Unsubscribes and List Protection
In recent times, data protection and privacy regulations in many regions of the world require that you offer your subscribers an easy to use and reliable method to unsubscribe from the mailings you send to them. Maestro provides two different mechanisms for this:
*UnsubscribeURLSystem Drop-In: This method works by including the
*UnsubscribeURLsystem drop-in in the messages you send to your subscribers. Maestro replaces this drop-in with a customized URL that forwards your users to the Message page of your subscriber area website. (This is also the reason why the message page must always be accessible to the public.) The message content asks the user for a yes/no confirmation (this bypasses link-clicking firewalls who otherwise would be performing unwanted unsubscribes), and users who click [Yes] are removed from your list.
Subscriber Website Login: If you allow your users to login to the subscriber website (i.e. you configured your list with a visibility other than "Unsubscribes Only"), then your users can login and unsubscribe independently of a message that they have received through one of your mail jobs that contained the
Note: Maestro follows the strategy to actually and finally remove the subscriber record from the database. This is different from the method of merely "marking" records with a "do not send" marker and otherwise still showing this data. When acting on an unsubscribe, Maestro does however maintain internal data for two purposes:
Unsubscribe Counts: Each unsubscribe is counted in a metrics value for the mail job that contained the
*UnsubscribeURLsystem drop-in. Note that this job-based metrics value requires the association with a mail job and is therefore not updated when your users unsubscribe through a login to the subscriber website.
In addition to this job-based metric, Maestro collects detailed unsubscribe statistics for your list over time. These statistics are always updated, regardless of the unsubscribe method being used.
List Protection: This functionality (which is always enabled, regardless of the unsubscribe method) makes sure that you do not accidentally make the mistake of adding a bounced address or the address of an unsubscribed user back to your list. Such an address is marked as "protected" from being added back inadvertently, leading to the following consequences:
You can no longer add the address via the list's "Import Subscribers" feature. Each attempt to do so causes Maestro to deny adding the address. All such failed addresses are handled similarly to other reasons why any subscriber record import may fail, which means that you can download a file with these addresses once the import is finished. However, this file is only available temporarily because keeping it indefinitely would violate typical data protection regulations. Use the data in this file with extra care and keep in mind that these addresses belong to users who explicitly denied receiving email from you (or, more precisely, from your list).
You can add such an address manually via the "Add Subscriber" feature, but Maestro will ask you to confirm a corresponding clear warning message box telling you that the address should not be added. This allows you to overrule an address's protection status, for example if a subscriber unsubscribed by accident and has now contacted you and is explicitly asking to be added back.
The user owning the address can re-subscribe without any additional warning via the subscriber website associated with your list (and thus going through the usual double opt-in confirmation steps). This option is however only available if your list's public subscriber website visibility is set to "Open For Subscribers".
If an address is re-subscribed to a list by any of the methods described above, it loses its "protected" status again.
If you, as the administrator of the list data, delete a subscriber via Maestro's Subscriber Warehouse UI (using any of the available methods, be it a manual single delete or a bulk import deleting many addresses in one step), then this subscriber's address is not marked as "protected", which has the obvious consequence that you can later add it back without any confirmation required.