Topic management

Keeping the existing hierarchy (Brand and Brand-Product hierarchy) unchanged, we've opted to make email marketing and topic management inseparable in Zoho Marketing Automation. In the earlier setup, you had to associate topics to mailing lists where a single topic could be mapped with multiple mailing lists. However, the purpose of topics is to help contacts choose their areas of interest and receive the most relevant information, so we've shifted to a new approach. Here is how it will look:

  • The new setup enables you to associate one or more topics with each contact rather than a list, i.e., every single contact brought into Zoho Marketing Automation either via import or transfer can be mapped to a topic.
  • Every email campaign that you send requires you to choose a topic in addition to the mailing lists or segments you've selected. This way you ensure that your campaign is only sent to those who have been associated to that specific topic. For example, send the campaign Webinar promotion to contacts associated to the topic Webinars from the mailing list Website signups.
  • Your contacts can choose their topic preferences through the Manage Preference link in the email footer.
  • You can switch to the new topics setup anytime before September 30, 2022, one year from now. When you do so, we will seamlessly migrate all your existing topics to the new setup.

Note: If a user is setting up topics for the first time, a default topic named "Marketing" will be provided to them, and they can build on the rest later.

This individualistic approach will help you cater accurate content to your contacts based on the topics they prefer.

List management

Mailing lists were an integral element in Zoho Marketing Automation as it was mandatory to have each contact added to at least one list. The list description that goes down on the email footer was meant to address the purpose of why you were communicating with contacts. However, we are now moving over to a more preference-based structure. Here's how this update will make your email list management more streamlined:

  • When adding contacts to your account, you can directly import them to the All Contacts database or map them to your desired mailing list. You can also choose to add them to mailing lists at a later point as you'll need to select lists while you're sending your emails.
  • Previously it was mandatory to associate signup forms and popup forms to mailing lists, however, you can now opt to not associate them to mailing lists. For better engagement, though, you can still associate them to appropriate topics as previously done.

More about lead addition

Previously, leads brought into Zoho Marketing Automation didn't need to be marked as active or inactive (do-not-mail). We've changed this for more well-defined consent management. As mentioned above, with the new update, you don't have to add leads to mailing lists at the time of import. We've brought more meaningful context to the whole lead management system. Here's how:

  • When adding leads to your account, you can directly import them to the All Leads database and work on mailing list association later.
  • During lead addition, you will have to choose a subscription type for them, i.e., you need to mark them as Marketing, Non-marketing, or Unsubscribed. This means you will only be able to send emails to those who are marked as Marketing leads.
  • During addition, you also need to specify in the GDPR section of the Settings tab regarding the type of approval the lead has given for communication. If communicating with a lead under the purview of GDPR, this section will be replaced with the requisite GDPR lawful basis.

The above enhancements will prevent you from accidentally or intentionally sending emails to leads who haven't shown interest in receiving emails from you. It will also help you stay compliant with the necessary email marketing regulations.

Unsubscribe and preference management

Prior to this update, there was a bit of complexity for any contact that wanted to unsubscribe from your organization or set their email receiving preferences right. When a contact selected the Unsubscribe link at the email footer, they'd be taken to a page displaying all your mailing lists. If you hadn't followed a proper naming convention for your mailing lists and named them randomly, it likely confused your contacts as to what purpose each of these lists served. Also, to unsubscribe from the entire organization, they had to take an extra step from this page. In order to make this entire process seamless, we have made a few changes.

  • With the new update, contacts can unsubscribe from all communication from your organization in one shot by simply clicking the Unsubscribe link in the email footer.
  • You can use the Manage preference link in your email footer to help contacts update their topics of interest. The Manage preference page will also have an option to unsubscribe from the entire organization. So using Manage preference or Unsubscribe in the email footer is your choice.

The above changes will henceforth simplify how to unsubscribe or choose among randomly named lists. It's now easier for contacts to decide what they want from your brand.

Double opt-in change

Zoho Marketing Automation had previously made it mandatory for users to obtain double opt-in from each contact via a confirmation email. Now we've made it optional for you to set up the double opt-in method for contacts who enter through your signup forms.

Assent-based marketing

Before now, you had to choose between consent-based and permission-based system marketing to carry out your email marketing. This included some steps that made the process look a bit hectic. With this update, we've changed the way you previously handled this. Here's how:

  • Technically, we look at Zoho Marketing Automation as a permission-based marketing automation system. This is why we instruct you to mark your leads as Marketing/Non-marketing/Unsubscribed in the new update.
  • However, if you want to send marketing communications to your contacts after their approval, you can choose to include Consent merge tags in your emails.

These small changes will lead to more hassle-free, permission-based email marketing.

GDPR settings

Previously, while following GDPR guidelines, you had to assign a topic and choose a lawful basis for every mailing list created. In this update, we've handled this at the contact level.

  • You can enable GDPR for your entire account in the Settings tab.
  • Once enabled, every time you add leads through bulk import, sync, manual addition, and signup form, you will have to choose the corresponding lawful basis of communication for the associated topic.

Email campaigns

Since mailing lists are an integral part of marketing, it was only natural that every sent email campaign needed to be associated with a list. This method gave you limited flexibility to cater the most accurate content to your contacts. Under the current system:

  • Every email campaign needs to be associated with a topic in addition to selecting your mailing lists/segments. This ensures that you send emails to just those who have subscribed to this specific topic.
  • As mentioned earlier, you will be able to send email communication only to those that are marked as Marketing leads. If there are marketing leads in the list that are yet to be associated with a topic, you can associate them during the recipient selection process.

This extra step facilitates a more targeted email marketing to fetch maximum engagement from contacts.


In the earlier setup, you had to choose one topic for the entire email workflow. There might be varied reasons to send out three or four emails in a single workflow, and each email might demand a corresponding topic to be associated with it. However, that was not previously possible.

In the new setup, every email you include in the workflow can be dynamically associated with the topic of your choice. This saves you from creating different workflows for different topics.


From a list-centric engagement strategy to a preference-centric one, the new updates in Zoho Marketing Automation are worth giving a try. These updates aim to make your email marketing more effective. We've gone the distance so that you can make the most of it.

Frequently asked questions

  • When do these updates go live? 

    You can adopt the new Topic Management approach any time before September 30, 2022. Once you switch, every functionality, from email sending to list and lead management, will take effect and you can experience hassle-free email marketing.

  • I've already set up topics in my Zoho Marketing Automation account. Will switching to the new setup erase all my previous topics? 

    No, all your current topics will be seamlessly migrated to the new setup. We will provide any help you need.

  • I don't have even a single topic created in my account. What happens when I set up topic management? 

    We mandate that your organization has at least one topic created. Zoho Marketing Automation adds a topic named Marketing by default when you configure topics for your account.

  • What happens to my active workflows after these changes? 

    The active workflows remain unchanged.