Activity-Based Subscriber and List Management: Triggers

Ten Steps for Managing an Online CrisisGetting the right message to the right person at the right time is critical to making the most of your email marketing, and maximizing your results for your business, blog, or organization.

If you’ve read the Making the Most of FeedBlitz free manual, you will be familiar with parsers. Parsers help automatically add subscribers to the right list or autoresponder, based on activity in systems and services that are outside FeedBlitz.

Triggers perform a similar role based on activity within FeedBlitz.

What is a Trigger?

A trigger is an action that moves or removes a subscriber from one or more lists based on other events within your account.

A trigger can either subscribe or unsubscribe a reader from a list or autoresponder; and it fires when one of the following events happen on the list/autoresponder it is attached to:

  • The subscriber joins the list by completing the dual opt-in process;
  • The subscriber unsubscribes; or
  • The subscriber completes the autoresponder sequence.

For example, we use a trigger for each of the two main autoresponder sequences we use: The one for people downloading the “FeedBurner Migration Manual” and the new customer onboarding sequence.

The last post in each tells the reader the autoresponder has finished, and that, in order to help them keep up with FeedBlitz, they’ve been added to the main blog’s subscription list.

It’s a trigger “ using the autoresponder completion event – that moves the subscriber into the main FeedBlitz news mailing list.

Preparing for Triggers

Before you set up a trigger, you need to have at least two mailing lists in your account (and by “list,” I mean either a traditional mailing list or an autoresponder). To figure out how and when to move subscribers between your lists, try mapping your lists on a piece of paper to plan the workflow.

Implementing Triggers

With your plan in place, select the list where the subscriber activity you want to take action on occurs, and then click “Triggers” in the “Subscriber Management” tile. Pick the subscriber event from the drop down, and then the action that you want to take place.

Autoresponders have three actions (subscribes, unsubscribes, completion). Other lists just have subscribe and unsubscribe as available events.

So in the FeedBlitz case, we set up triggers on the autoresponders such that when the subscriber completes the sequence, they are automatically subscribed to the main FeedBlitz news mailing list.

But there’s more “ and this is the power (and complexity) that triggers can bring to your automation: The “New Customer” onboarding autoresponder also has an action for the “subscription” event.


Because when a subscriber joins the “New Customer” autoresponder, we clearly need to stop pitching them to sign up! So the “subscribe” event for this responder is set to unsubscribe the subscriber from the FeedBurner Migration Guide autoresponder.

That way we won’t keep asking them to do something we know they’ve already done, which would be aggravating, to say the least. This trigger prevents that from happening.

The complexity arises when we add new lead generation autoresponders, and have to remember to add additional unsubscribe triggers to the new subscriber mailing to ensure that the relevant sequences are stopped.


In order to preserve deliverability, there are a couple of important restrictions on triggers:

  • An unsubscribe event can only trigger other unsubscribes. You cannot subscribe a subscriber to a list when they’re asking to leave one.
  • A subscribe action that adds a subscriber to a different list will not work if that subscriber has already unsubscribed from the target list. In other words, a trigger won’t override a subscriber’s previously expressed desire to get off a list.

Triggers on autoresponders also have the following features:

  • If an autoresponder has zero or one entries in its sequence, triggers for the “completed” event will be fired in addition to any “subscribed” triggers when a subscriber is added to that autoresponder.

So what you can now start to create is a fully automated, list building and email marketing machine that gets the right message to the right person at the right time. All you need is:

  • One or more lists delivering content;
  • One or more autoresponder sequences that are triggered by various forms or parsers; or
  • Triggers to migrate subscribers from one list to the next based on activity.

Best yet, once you’ve created all of these things, and got them working, it will all work on a set-and-forget basis!