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HubSpot & GDPR: Three ways of setting up the double opt-in process

hubspot double-opt-in

With a so-called ‘double opt-in’ (DOI), website visitors give their consent to a subscription or to receiving specific information. In a first step, customers can sign up for, say, a newsletter and then receive an email confirming receipt of their email and their consent, in other words giving them double consent. This is also the difference to the simple opt-in, where there is no need to re-confirm by email.

On the one hand, users can follow this procedure to protect themselves from spam emails and to make sure that they have not mistyped their entries. On the other hand, companies comply with the European GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

In HubSpot, it is not always that easy to set up the legally required double opt-in process. You will have to consider things carefully when choosing the options, especially when additional requirements such as using several languages or a higher level of customization are needed.

HubSpot offers a few options for setting up this DOI process, but depending on your subscription and needs – it’s vital that you choose the right path.

Things are also made more complicated by the fact that the options will differ depending on which HubSpot modules you’ve booked. I’ll introduce you to three of these methods, along with their pros and cons: They range from the easy-to-implement standard solution to an individualized workflow for users with special requirements. Once you have read this article, you should be able to take the necessary steps to get even closer to GDPR compliance.

What is double opt-in (DOI)?

In the digital age, double opt-in (DOI) is the standard for obtaining explicit written consent from a person to make contact with them via advertising (usually via email, less often via text message or phone call.) While implementations differ, potential users are generally asked to click on a link in an email to confirm their consent to receiving additional content.

This way, you can be sure that the email address to which the content was sent really is that of the person who filled out the form or the other subscription method.

HubSpot offers a few options for setting up this DOI process, but depending on your subscription and needs – it’s vital that you choose the right path.

1. HubSpot’s general DOI option for basic accounts

If you’re looking for a quick and trouble-free solution, HubSpot offers a basic double opt-in option in the “Marketing” settings:


Hubspot double-opt-in for basic accounts

By activating this option, which you can reach via “Settings” > “Marketing” > “Email” > “Double opt-in”, each new contact must browse through a confirmation email. You can scroll to the bottom of the form to have a look at the email that future subscribers will see and find a preview there.

That’s it, now you’ve got a working DOI solution!

The limitations of HubSpot’s simple double opt-in solution

This simple solution is precisely what it says it is – simple. Here, in a nutshell, are its limitations:

  • There is no option for using more than one language.
  • You cannot customize the email unless you have also booked the “Marketing Hub Professional” package.
  • The only possible options are “ON” and “OFF”. No “fine-grained” selection is possible for forms or the like.

When should you use HubSpot’s basic double opt-in solution?

The basic option works well for companies that aren’t planning to upgrade to other HubSpot modules at any time soon, but which are looking for a way to ensure their compliance with the GDPR. Because of the general limitations, the setup can be implemented in just a few minutes.

Consider the following points when making your decision: Many email marketing companies use a similar approach: they place severe limitations on customization options. As a rule, they do this to prevent the users of their tools from enticing potential subscribers to click for confirmation. By doing so, they would risk unlawful consent. That should put your mind at ease a little if the template is not as perfectly customized to your brand as it could be.

For more details on this option, check out HubSpot’s official documentation.

2. Custom opt-in emails for HubSpot’s Marketing Hub accounts

You can customize the opt-in emails as you wish if you use one of the following modules: Marketing Hub Professional, Enterprise or Legacy Marketing Hub Basic. This lets you create a better brand experience for your customers and tailor it to your specific use case, with the ultimate goal of increasing approval ratings.

Moreover, you can explain the consent requirements in a number of ways, for example, to show which content your user will receive after opting in. You can make changes to the email at “Settings” > “Marketing” > “Email” > “Subscriptions” (tab). This option is only possible if you’ve activated one of the modules mentioned above.

Hubspot custom double-opt-in emails

Once you’ve published the DOI email via “Publish opt-in email”, you will have the option to edit the content, rather like the way you can edit other emails in HubSpot.

Options when setting up custom opt-in emails

You have the following options when you set up the flow in Marketing Hub accounts:

  • For all pages: DOI is enabled for all new contacts, regardless of how they entered HubSpot (HubSpot forms, API).
  • Enabled for some pages only: DOI is only used for contacts generated via these specific HubSpot pages.
  • Disable for some pages only: Enables the DOI process for all sources (HubSpot forms and API) except those listed here.

Limitations of the HubSpot Marketing Hub’s double opt-in method

Sooner or later, even this method will reach certain limits. Although the email itself can be more flexibly customized, there is still no way to offer multiple language solutions for subscribers. You can choose precisely one language that will apply in every case.

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Another point worth mentioning is that this implementation depends entirely on using HubSpot as a source for landing pages. If you do not (yet) use HubSpot sites, the ability to change the DOI process on that basis won’t give you any added value.

Who should use the Marketing Hub DOI process?

If you already use HubSpot sites extensively, and have paid to subscribe to one of the following required modules (Marketing Hub Professional, Enterprise or Legacy Marketing Hub Basic), then this is the ideal method for you. It is preferable to the standard method because it offers greater flexibility, at least in terms of email content and design.
If you haven’t already subscribed to Marketing Hub, it might not be worth the extra cost because it’s heavily tied up with HubSpot pages (creating landing pages directly in HubSpot).

You can also create DOI-aware “follow-up emails” with this option, because you’ll be given an option to do so, and you won’t have to do the extra customization for the workflow, as you can see in this HubSpot community post.

Unfortunately, in this case you will also have to live with the fact that you can only send the DOI flow in one specific language.

3. Double opt-in customized workflow on HubSpot

This last method I want to tell you about lets you replicate the DOI workflow yourself. However, this task does call for extensive knowledge of the HubSpot workflow module. This custom option offers the greatest flexibility, as the emails can be fully customized and such rules as language and the like can also be precisely defined.
The precondition here is that you must subscribe to either the Sales Hub, the Marketing Hub or the Service Hub, which will all add costs.

How you can create your own double opt-in workflow on HubSpot

This is what you need to do to set up your own custom workflow:

DOI Icon
  • Create a trigger that correlates with a new contact to which you can send a specific DOI
    • The contact has filled out a specific form on a specific site
    • The contact becomes a member of a specific list
    • The contact attribute has a specific value
  • Create a new email and enter the “Email subscription link” with the “Subscription confirmation” option.

When you follow this procedure, you can tailor the DOI email precisely to your needs (you can customize the design and content of the email) and – depending on the trigger – send different emails. This lets you differentiate clearly between languages or other parameters that are important to the company.

Who should use the custom workflow method?

If you don’t really like HubSpot’s other, more highly integrated solutions, and you would rather have total flexibility, then this option really is the right one for you. It allows the several languages to be used, as well as content and design customization tailored to your needs. Given the extra flexibility and incorporation of a new workflow, testing becomes an important part of the integration.

Tip: Make sure your customers don’t re-enter the workflow at a later stage to prevent your contacts being flooded with DOI emails.

Double opt-in and other workflows

Please note that the DOI status is not examined with other workflows. You’ll have to integrate this test yourself. You can find a good overview of the steps in this community post.

Checking the DOI status in other workflows

This is what you have to do: Use a trigger to examine the “Marketing email confirmation status” and make sure it has one of the following values:

  • Confirmed
  • User clicked confirmation
  • HubSpot Rep. marked confirmed
  • Customer marked confirmed
  • Confirmed from previous behavior

Wrap up

Unfortunately, HubSpot is not yet at its best when it comes to offering its customers a good DOI flow. That’s a pity, because the GDPR didn’t just come into force yesterday, and basic requirements such as multiple languages ought to be a general standard and not a special feature. However, there are a few ways to meet even more complex requirements. Depending on your needs, it is enough to use the basic GDPR solution and the general DOI email. It’s quick and easy. However, for bigger and more complex tasks, there seems to be no way around using a custom workflow solution to make it work.

Please also have a look at our article on the GDPR-compliant use of CRM data in Google’s Customer Match!

Please feel free to contact us if you have any other questions or need support with integration, we’re always happy to help!

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Oliver Zachau @advalyze

Oliver Zachau

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