How to set up and manage a subscription center

Last update: 2023-10-24
  • Created for:
  • Beginner

Watch how to implement processes between you and your subscribers by setting up and managing your subscription center.


To prevent having your customers globally unsubscribe from all of your email messages, it’s important to allow them to manage their subscription preferences. In our example, we’ll be discussing how to build a subscription center, including creating new fields, importing the subscription center best practice program, how to use a subscription center, and how to stay compliant with the double opt-in process.

We will be importing a standard sample subscription center program from the Marketo program library. But in order to do so, we’ll first need to create a few custom fields required by that program. Click Admin in the main navigation in your Marketo instance. In the left panel tree, click to expand the contents in Database Management, then click Field Management. Under Field Management tab, click New Custom Field. Since this field functions from a time and date input, select the Datetime field type. For field name, we’ll call this one Subscription Last Updated and the API name will autopopulate in the field. Click Create. We’ll repeat these same steps and create a custom field for Marketing Suspended reason with the string field type, then we’ll create Subscription Educational, Subscription Events, Subscription Newsletter, Subscription Product Updates, Subscription Webinars, all with the Boolean field type.

With the custom fields created, we’ll import the subscription center best practice program. In Marketing Activities, click the New dropdown and select Import Program. For Subscription, select Marketo Program Library. And for Import Program, select OP-Preference Center v3 and click Next. For Campaign Folder, select Operational Programs and click Next. After reviewing the summary, click Import.

With our subscription center best practice program organized into our operational programs folder, we’ll take a look at what it contains. So we’ll click to expand the contents where we’ll see three pre-built campaigns, one form and two landing pages. The first campaign processes new persons that are not created by the subscription form or already have the unsubscribed field set to true. The second campaign activates when the person submits the subscription management form. It records the last subscription update date, and if applicable, an unsubscribe reason. The third campaign activates whenever the unsubscribe field is set to true and removes all active subscriptions if there are any. This makes it easy to get an accurate count of active subscribers. The form includes six fields built with checkboxes to allow people to select one or multiple items they do or don’t want to receive from you. You can edit the content by double clicking the field, then clicking the value and updating the text. The first landing page includes a logo, banner image, and text area you can customize to your company branding and messaging. It also includes the form where people will set their subscription preferences. The second landing page serves as a confirmation thank you page that will appear once the person has submitted their preferences. You’ll also want to update the My Tokens information in the program. My Tokens are used in assets and pull in the information saved in the token. Without updating them, your assets will contain default values. To update the tokens, click on the program name, then click on the My Tokens tab. Double click the company token, enter your company name and click Save. With these assets prebuilt into the program, all you need to do is swap out the placeholder content for your own company’s branding and message and make adjustments to the target audience.

Now that you have a subscription center imported and customized to your company’s goals, we’ll discuss how to use it. An unsubscribe link is built into the footer of every email by default. When people click the unsubscribe link, they’ll have the option to unsubscribe to all of your emails or update their preferences to receive only specific messages. To customize the text and the link, click Admin, then Email and edit the information. You might want to notify your database of your new subscription center by sending an email or by adding it to your website.

It’s important to be compliant with email regulations. And in many countries and regions, there are laws in place requiring double opt-in. Double opt-in is when a person comes to a subscription form, chooses what they want to subscribe to, receives an email, and has to click a link within the email to confirm subscription. To update the process in your subscription center program and make it double opt-in compliant, add a confirmation email to your program with a link to a confirmation landing page. Now that you have a working and functional subscription center built and customized to your company’s branding and strategy, your leads will be able to update their subscription preferences and choose the content and frequency of your email messaging. -

On this page