Subscription Lists in Dispatch are a special population type. Unlike the other population types where the data lives in Dispatch (eg. Manual CSV List or Manual Email List) Subscription Lists membership can change as users opt in or out of your list. Subscription Lists are a good population type to use when you don't have your membership stored in a application database or if you want people to join or leave your mailing list. When sending messages using a Subscription List, please comply with the rules and requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act.

Opt In Types

Dispatch supports two opt in types:

  • Single: When your list has a single opt in then the member does not have to perform any confirmation. Single opt in lists are useful when you have complete control of the sign-up process and there is no public or anonymous way for the recipient to join your list.
  • Double: If you select a double opt in type then all subscribers will need to confirm their subscription to the list. After being added to the list they will receive a confirmation email which they will need to click the link in the email to be confirmed. They will not be included in the population until they have confirmed their subscription. You can resend confirmation emails from the member list to those who have not confirmed.

    If you want to customize the confirmation email, you must create a special communication. Please contact Dispatch Support if you want to setup a custom confirmation email.

    Screenshot of sample confirmation email
    A sample confirmation email a subscriber would receive. The recipient would not be subscribed until the button is clicked.

    When a subscriber clicks an unsubscribe link if Suppression Lists are used on a communication, they will be able to remove themselves from any subscription lists they are members of.

  • DoubleNoBrand: Just like the Double opt in type, but on the subscription page there is no UI Branding. This opt in type is suitable if you want to embed the subscription page on your website in an iframe.

Display Name/Description

The display name and description that you provide are publicly available on the subscription and unsubscribe forms when the list is set to Double Opt In. The values you provide for these two fields should convey to subscribers what information and value your list will be providing.

Signup Forms

A public sign-up form is made available when you have enabled your list to use the Double Opt In method. Public sign-up forms are not allowed for single opt in types to prevent recipients from being unwillingly subscribed to lists.

Your sign-up form will contain all the custom fields you configure for your subscription list. You can find the public link to your sign-up form by visiting the Sign-up Form Options link on the configuration tab of the population.

Owner email

You are required to provide the email address of a person or office that is responsible for the list you are creating. This email address is included in the subscription confirmation messages when you select a Double Opt In method. It must be a valid address.


Just like with Suppression Lists you can enable callbacks to be made when users are added or removed from your subscription list. If you have enabled Double Opt In the callback will occur when the subscriber has confirmed their subscription. If you require authentication, you can select from your stored credentials which will be included with the callback as Basic Authentication. The callbacks are a POST containing a payload of all the member attributes.

The unsubscribe fields will null for additions and will contain values for removals. Just like Suppression Lists, you will receive multiple callsbacks if the recipient answers the question regarding the reason they unsubscribed.

  "listName": "University of Iowa Newsletters",
  "toAddress": "",
  "firstName": "Herky",
  "lastName": "Hawk",
  "toPhone": null,
  "customFields": {
    "county": "Johnson",
    "state": "Iowa",
    "city": "Iowa City"
  "subscribedOn": "Aug 5, 2016 4:42:26 PM"
  "unsubscribedOn": null,
  "unsubscribeReason": null,
  "unsubscribeReasonOther": null

Custom Fields

By default the only subscriber attributes that will be collected when a person subscribes to your subscription list are: Email address, first name, last name, and phone number. Email address is the only required attribute. If you want to collect additional attributes you can setup custom fields. Examples of custom fields might be title, city, college, etc. Data that is collected for custom fields are stored as key-value pairs. Custom field values collected are availble as member attributes just like with other population types.

A custom field is composed of the following pieces:

  • Key: this is the attribute key that the values will be stored and retrieved under. Key is required.
  • Label: this is the user-friendly name of the attribute that will appear on forms. Label is required.
  • Help text: this will appear below the field to provide guidance to the user on what to provide.
  • Field type: Custom fields can be one of the following data types:
    • TEXT: An input field will be provided and any type of text can be inputted up to 4000 characters.
    • NUMBER: An input field will be provided and validation will occure to insure that the value is numeric.
    • DROPDOWN: You will need to provide items to be displayed in a drop-down list. The user may select one.
    • RADIO: Radio buttons will be displayed for each option provided. The user can select one.
    • CHECKBOX: Checkboxes will be displayed for each option provided. The user can select multiple. Multiple values are separated by commas.

    A note about DROPDOWNS, RADIO and CHECKBOX: For these data types, you will need to provide the options the user must select from. Each option must be on its own line. You can stored different values from those displayed by providing the option value separated by a comma from the label. For instance, IA,Iowa would show "Iowa" in the drop-down, radio or checkbox. When selected Dispatch would store the value as "IA".

  • Required: If you want your custom field to be required.
  • Default value: The default value that you want selected/inputted.

You can add, modify and remove custom fields from the Configure tab on the population setup screen. The order of the custom fields as they appear on this screen is the order in which they will display on the sign-up form. You can reorder the fields by dragging them to your desired order.


If you have an intial dataset you need imported into your subscription list population you can facilitate that through the import feature. The import function walks you through the import process which includes: uploading your file, mapping columns to attributes, previewing the import, and confirming the import.

Step 1 - Select an Excel or CSV file to import

You can import a CSV, Excel XLS, or Excel XLSX file. The file must contain a header row that identify each column. If you are importing an Excel file, only the first worksheet will be imported.

Step 2 - Map columns

You need to map the columns in your source file to the target attributes in your subscription list. The Target attribute column will list all the attributes in your subscription list. You then need to select a field from the dropdown of available fields in your file. In the example below, the selected dropdown shows all the columns available in the dataset uploaded.

Step 3 - Confirm

After you've mapped your fields, your file will be parsed and any validation errors will be presented to you. The first ten rows of your file are shown so that you can verify that the columns mapped correctly. If you need to make adjustments, you can click the Back button at the bottom of the panel. If everything looks correct you can click the Start Import button.


After you've started the import, you will see a progress bar indicating the progress of your import. When it is finished you the progress bar will be complete and you can close the window. Please note: you will not receive callbacks for completed subscriptions for subscribers added through the import process. Duplicate email addresses will also be ignored if they have already been subscribed.

Editing Subscribers

From the member tab of population panel you have a paged list of all the members in your subscription list. You can sort by the email address, first name, last name, or subscribed date attributes. The search field will also search those basic fields.

You can edit or remove the subscriber from you list by clicking appropirate button to the right of the subscriber in the list.

Subsets of Subscription Lists

You can use the population type of Subset of Subscription List to break up you subscription list into smaller logical pieces. For instance, you could have a large subscription list that has a custom field of State. You could create another population that target subscribers who identified themselves as living in Iowa when they subscribed. To do that, you would create a new population of type Subset of Subscription List and configure the criteria to return subscribers where the field "State" equals "IA". Depending upon the field type of your custom field, different operators are allowed. If your custom field is of type NUMERIC, then you will receive a different set of operators such as 'greater than', 'less than', etc.

You can create criteria based on any attribute in the selected subscription list. Criteria rules can be grouped into groups so you could have rule combinations. For example, you have a rule group that states "State equals 'IA' AND City equals 'Iowa City'" with another "OR" rule group that states "State equals "WI" AND City equals 'Madison'". You cannot nest rule groups.

Using a Subscription List

You use subscription lists and subsets of subscription lists just like any other population. The only difference is that when you use subscription lists or subsets of subscriptions lists, you must select from the list of Suppression Lists.

Integrating with Drupal/SiteNow

Subscription lists can be integrated into your Drupal/SiteNow site to provide an easy way for people to add themselves to your subscription lists without leaving your website. Please see the instructions in the SiteNow Documentation.