The Ins and (Opt)Outs of Email Eligibility

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Jordan Pritikin
Jordan Pritikin



You have your email crafted, your list attached, and you’re ready to hit send. You give everything a double check, hover over the blue “Send Email” button, and… *Click*. Your email is off and on its way to your list of contacts!

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But when you check back the next day to see how your email performed, you notice that one (or more) of the contacts on your list was never sent this email. So what gives? 

Not to worry - we've got you covered. Those contacts, most likely, were not eligible to receive emails through HubSpot. But what does that mean? It means that contact has either opted out of receiving email from you, or wasn't eligible in the first place, even though they were on your list. 

In this post, we’ll walk through what eligibility is (as HubSpot sees it), and how to handle those contacts that are not eligible to receive emails.


There are a few things to consider when wondering why an email was not sent to a particular contact. First and foremost, we need to know if a contact has opted out of all email communications. The necessity for ‘Opting Out’ comes from the CAN-SPAM Act. The Federal Trade Commission enacted CAN-SPAM to ensure that everyday consumers cannot be flooded by electronic communications. For more information about the Act, please reference the FTC’s Compliance Guide for Business.

A contact can opt-out of email communication by clicking on the Unsubscribe or Update your email preferences link at the bottom of an email sent through HubSpot. Here's what it looks like:

Unsubscribe from all future emails

How to see if a contact has opted out 

You can see if a particular contact has opted out of all email communications from you by looking at that contact’s overview in our Contacts App. You will see red lettering specifying “Opted Out of Email Communication” over the contacts grayed out picture. Here's an example:

Contact opted out of email communication

If a contact has opted out of all communications, this means you can no longer send them emails through HubSpot. You will not need to delete them, remove them from lists, or manually opt them out. HubSpot will make sure that these contacts do not receive additional emails without you lifting a finger!

Some good news? They’re not gone forever! You can set up our forms to allow an opted out contact to opt back in. This will allow the contact to select what types of communications they still want to receive from you! For more information about setting up this ‘opt back in’ feature, please reference our help documentation.

Deleting contacts that have opted out

“So if I can’t communicate with them, should I delete them from Hubspot?”

Delete a contact


The age old question. The final decision is completely up to you and your business! However, here are some thinking points: If they have opted out of email communications, HubSpot still collects analytic data associated with these contacts: data like page views, form submissions, etc. This is valuable data that may be used to reestablish a connection with them in the future. Additionally, contacts who have opted out of email communication can opt back in (refer to the paragraph above), so you may not want to delete them if you think they will come back to you! Again, the final decision is always yours, but it may be worth reconsidering before you hit the delete button.

Ineligible Contacts

Ineligible contacts are contacts that have been marked within HubSpot as Ineligible, and are unable to receive email communications from our Email App. There are a few circumstances in which we would see this happen.  A contact will be marked as Ineligible within HubSpot if they:

  1. Unsubscribed from all email communications (Opted-Out)
  2. Marked a previous email as spam
  3. Hard Bounced a previous email

All about hard bounces

A bounce message, also known as a Non-Delivery Report (NDR), is an automated message from an email recipient’s mail server informing the sender about a delivery issue to a specific email address. HubSpot classifies bounces in two ways either a Hard Bounce or a Soft Bounce.

  • A Hard Bounce is a permanent failure that HubSpot received after sending to an email address.
  • A Soft Bounce is a temporary failure. We will continue to retry delivering the message for up to 72 hours or until a definitive failure message (Hard Bounce) is received.

As specified above, if a contact’s email address receives a Hard Bounce, they will be marked as ineligible and will not longer be able to receive emails through HubSpot. These rules are in place to help protect your deliverability rates.

Now that you know the ins and “opt-outs” of eligibility, discovered the difference in bounce events, and put thought into when we should and should not be deleting ineligible contacts, you're a master of email eligibility with HubSpot! Still want more information? Head on over to HubSpot’s Email Deliverability Guide for more.

*This post is part of an ongoing series in which members of the HubSpot Support team offer sane, sensible advice to real questions posed by real HubSpot customers. We might not solve all of life’s mysteries, but we can sure as heck try.

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