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What’s the difference between HubSpot’s Marketing, Non-Marketing, and Unsubscribed Contacts?

What’s the difference between HubSpot’s Marketing, Non-Marketing, and Unsubscribed Contacts?

Managing your contacts in HubSpot effectively can significantly impact your marketing strategy and budget. However, understanding the distinctions between marketing contacts, non-marketing contacts, and unsubscribed contacts is crucial to leveraging HubSpot's tools efficiently. Let's break down these categories to clear up any confusion.

Marketing Contacts

Marketing contacts are those you actively engage with using HubSpot’s marketing tools, such as emails and ads. These contacts count towards your contact tier and influence your subscription costs. By designating a contact as a marketing contact, you signal your intent to send them marketing communications, which are vital for campaigns and promotions.
Understanding the distinction between marketing contacts and non-marketing contacts helps you manage costs and ensure that your marketing efforts are targeted towards those who are more likely to engage with your content.

Non-Marketing Contacts

Non-marketing contacts, on the other hand, do not receive any marketing communications from you. They are primarily used for CRM purposes such as reporting, data analysis, and historical purpose, as well as other non-marketing engagements such as transactional emails, customer support, and compliance with opt-out records. Importantly, non-marketing contacts do not count towards your contact tier, meaning they don’t affect your HubSpot subscription costs. This distinction helps in maintaining a lean contact list focused on active engagement, ensuring that your budget is used efficiently.

Unsubscribed Contacts

Unsubscribed contacts are those who have opted out of receiving certain types or all marketing communications from you. This status is tracked within their contact record under "Communication subscriptions." It's essential to respect these preferences to maintain compliance with regulations like GDPR and CAN-SPAM, and to uphold trust with your audience. Even if a contact is unsubscribed, they can still exist in your database as either a marketing or non-marketing contact, depending on if you manage your marketing contacts well. As a best practice, contacts who have unsubscribed from all your subscription types should be marked as non-marketing contacts. 


Unsubscribed contacts are those who have opted out of receiving certain types or all marketing communications

Best Practices

XEN provides best practices for managing marketing contacts, emphasizing the importance of regularly cleansing your contact list to remove inactive or invalid contacts. This practice not only helps in maintaining a high-quality contact list but also ensures that your marketing efforts are directed towards an engaged audience. Here are some suggestions in managing your marketing contacts:

  • Monitor your contact usage over time to stay within your subscription tier limit
  • Upgrade to the next tier if necessary or manage your contact list to prevent exceeding your current tier limit
  • Use the "Manage Your Marketing Contacts" feature to update contact status and ensure you're only paying for contacts you intend to market to
  • This feature allows you to mark contacts as non-marketing, preventing them from counting towards your subscription limit and associated costs

Creating a Suppression List

Creating a suppression list is another critical strategy to manage your contacts effectively. A suppression list can be used as your “Don’t send to” list when sending marketing eDMs ensuring you are not sending to the wrong leads (i.e. possibly bounced contacts, invalid email addresses, etc).
A suppression list can be used as your “Don’t send to” list when sending marketing eDMs

Key Differences

Understanding these differences is vital:

  • Marketing vs. Non-Marketing Contacts: This is about your intent to market and affects your HubSpot costs.
  • Unsubscribed Contacts: This reflects the contact's preference to not receive communications, regardless of their marketing or non-marketing status.

By clearly distinguishing between these types of contacts, you can optimise your marketing efforts, respect customer preferences, and manage costs effectively.

For more detailed information, you can read HubSpot's articles on marketing contacts and subscription preferences.

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