The difference between subscriptions and lists


Hi. I’m new to the HubSpot platform. I’m working on integrating hubspot for a customer, and I think I need to understand how HubSpot works :slight_smile:

There are two concepts that, to me, seem very similar. Lists and Subscriptions

For lists, there are these enspoints:

This lets me add a contact to a static list.

At the same time, this endpoint exists:

This seems to let me set a “subscribed=true/false” for an id. (Is this a list id?)

When should I use each of these endpoints? Is unsubscribing the same as removing someone from a list? Or is it intended as a user initiated action “Stop sending me email”? Does this also work with dynamic lists?

And if I add someone to a list after they have unsubscribed, will they start receiving emails again?

I hope you can help understand this :slight_smile:


Hi @mortenbock,

Lists and subscriptions are very different; each contact can be subscribed/unsubscribed, and the can be a member of any number of lists. However, subscription status is a property on the contact object, while lists are simply collections of contact objects.

Subscription status is simply true or false. A contact can be opted out of email (unsubscribed), preventing any HubSpot email from being sent to them. This is a permanent action, and it remains true even if the contact is added to lists used in email campaigns.

List membership is different; contacts can be members of multiple lists, and can join/leave lists many times. Lists can be used for email campaigns, but do not necessarily reflect a contact’s eligibility to receive email. Lists are a tool for grouping contact records.

The following Knowledge Base article go into more detail on both lists and subscription status: