Back to Basics: Conquering Contact Status

Jocelyn Yale, Product Manager

Jocelyn Yale, Product Manager

Author Bio

A Bronto since 2011, with experience on both the Support and Professional Services teams and a background in Deliverability, Jocelyn is a subject matter expert in all things Bronto. She gets the credit (or the blame) for creating the Bronto Certified Specialist exam, and is still waiting for someone to get a perfect score!

Jocelyn joined Bronto's Product Management team as a Product Analyst in 2015, taking ownership of SMS and MMS offerings, as well as the database of feature requests and platform feedback. She’ll happily accept your requests via our Ideas forum. With her varied experience at Bronto, Jocelyn brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the Product team and is excited about helping to shape the future of the Bronto platform.

Tracking order and conversion data. Monitoring abandoned carts. Measuring engagement. Sending email. All things you can do within the Bronto Marketing Platform. But there’s one big prerequisite: your account must have contacts to associate with this data.

Once you have it, contact data is not static and can change with any message send or touchpoint. Users could unsubscribe, subscribe again or mistype their email address. So how do you keep track of these changes in the platform?

Let’s start with the two categories we use for contacts. Active contacts are eligible to receive any email message you send. Inactive contacts can only receive transactional messages, such as order confirmation or password reset.

From there, contact status is broken down by their behavior:

Active Contact Statuses

  • Onboarding contacts have not been sent a marketing message. Usually, these are new contacts, and they will remain in this status until you send them their first email message. From here, the contact will move through Automated Onboarding after our 48-hour assessment window. Most contacts move to active status, though a few may move to a type of inactive status.
  • Active contacts have been sent at least one message and are eligible to receive anything else you want to send. You want the majority of your contacts to be in this status category.

Inactive Contact Statuses

  • Bounced contacts no longer receive your messages. Each time a message runs into an error, it is classified as a hard bounce (permanent) or soft bounce (temporary). Read more about bounces in our help documentation, which also includes a useful flow chart.
  • Unsubscribed contacts have opted out of receiving email messages from you, either by submitting an unsubscribe webform or by marking an email as spam. These contacts can still receive transaction-related messages and can resubscribe to your email messaging at any time.
  • Transactional contacts probably have ordered from you but elected not to sign up for marketing communication. If they decide to subscribe later, their status will shift to Onboarding, and they’ll move through the Onboarding process. In the meantime, they can only receive transactional messaging related to their order.
  • Unconfirmed contacts are uncommon. You’ll only see them if you’ve implemented double opt-in, which is not something we require. Some marketers use double opt-in if bots are abusing their sign-up forms. A computer can’t complete a double opt-in (yet!), and it’s a good way for marketers to verify valid email addresses right from the start.

And those are the basics of contact statuses. As a bonus for those who made it all the way to the bottom of this post, here are a few additional contact tips:

  • All new accounts are given storage for one million Active contacts. Inactive contacts aren’t counted toward that limit at all. So don’t worry about deleting anyone; just change their status to inactive and you can store them indefinitely, along with any order history and engagement metrics you’ve collected.
  • Transactional contacts can sometimes be added when you’re sending a test delivery. If the email address does not already exist in your account, we need to create one before sending that message. But we’d never assume they’ve opted in for marketing messages, so as a precaution, they’re added as transactional.
  • I waited until the very end to mention Suppressed contacts. Other providers use “suppression” as a term for unsubscribed or inactive users. But in the Bronto Marketing Platform, a suppressed contact will not receive any messages from you, and they are unable to resubscribe. My recommendation? Only use Suppression in a worst-case scenario, such as when a customer has threatened or taken legal action, such as a cease-and-desist communication. For any other situation, use the Unsubscribed status instead. That way we’ll keep their full history on file, whereas Suppression contacts are deleted from view, and all of the data is deleted with them. When in doubt, lean toward not using Suppression, or check with our Support department.

Not too much to remember, right? If you’d like to learn more, there are some great contact tips in our recently enhanced Learning Center. Be sure to check out how to use contact statuses within a segment and search by status category. When you need an assist, simply start a live web chat in the platform with our excellent technical support team.