Suppress a contact

Use suppressions to temporarily, or permanently, stop certain contacts from receiving your email or SMS communications.

Gareth Burroughes avatar
Written by Gareth Burroughes
Updated this week

You can spend a lot of time making sure the right people get the right messages, but it can be just as important to make sure that people who don't want to hear from you don’t get messages too.

Before you start

Things you need to know:

  • You can suppress a contact:

    • at a channel level, by supressing either their email address or mobile number, while leaving the other channel subscribed.

    • at a contact level, by suppressing all available channels for that contact.

  • Suppressed contacts - those suppressed at a contact level - do not count towards your contact allowance.

To learn more, check out the article Understand contact and channel suppressions.

Suppress contacts from your account

There are a two methods to suppress contacts from your account:

  • File removal - if you have a lot of contacts or channels to suppress, you can do this by uploading a CSV, TXT, Excel or ZIP file.

  • Manually - if you have a single or small number of suppressions to perform. This can be done from the Contacts list, or any other list the contact appears in, or from the account suppression list.

If you'd like to suppress contacts from a list only, learn how in Add and remove suppressions from a list.

File removal

To suppress contacts or channels from a file:

  1. Go to Audience > Suppressions.

  2. Expand the SUPPRESS drop-down menu, then select Import from Excel or .csv.

  3. On the Import suppression list screen, select CHOOSE FILE. Select and open the file from your computer.
    If you mistakenly choose the wrong file, you can select CHANGE to choose a new one.

  4. Optionally, you can enter an email address in the Email address to notify field. This email address receives a notification when the import is complete.
    If you don’t want to receive a notification, you can leave the field empty.

  5. Expand the Encoding type drop-down menu and select your encoding type. UTF-8 is selected by default, and handles most languages.

  6. Use the radio buttons to select your suppression method:

    • Suppress only in uploaded channels.
      This option suppresses only the channels explicitly included in your import file. For example, Contact A exists in your account with an email address and a mobile number. Your suppression import file only contains their email address, so their mobile number remains subscribed.

    • Suppress the contact in all associated channels.

      This option suppresses all channels held for the contact associated with the channel identifier in your suppression import file. For example, Contact B exists in your account with an email address and a mobile number. Your suppression import file only contains their email address, but their mobile number is also suppressed once the import is complete.

  7. Select UPLOAD.

  8. You see a confirmation message of your chosen suppression action. Select YES, SUPPRESS CONTACTS.

  9. On the Map the data fields to your suppression list screen, use the Map to contact data field drop-down menus to map your file columns to data fields in your account. Mobile numbers must be mapped to the mobilenumberid data field, and email addresses to the email data field.

  10. Select FINISH.

You’re taken to the Suppressions in last 24 hours screen. To see details of your suppression import, select the Report icon.

Manual suppression from the suppressed contacts list

To suppress a contact, or a single channel for a contact:

  1. Go to Audience > Suppressions.

  2. Expand the SUPPRESS drop-down menu, then select Add manually.

  3. Enter the email address or mobile number that you want to suppress. Enter details for both channels to add a suppression at a contact level.


Manual suppression from the Contacts list

To suppress a contact, or a single channel for a contact:

  1. Go to Audience > Contacts.

  2. Find the contact you want to suppress, and select the checkbox for that contact.
    You can select multiple contacts if you want to, but this means you must suppress each selected contact on the same channel or channels. If you want to select channels separately per contact, perform each suppression individually.

  3. Expand the MORE ACTIONS drop-down menu and select Suppress from account.

  4. In the Suppress channels window, select the checkboxes to select which channels you would like to suppress for the selected contact.

  5. Select SUPPRESS, then, in the confirmation window, select OKAY.

Troubleshoot failed unsubscribes

You might be suppressing a contact because they have told you they tried to unsubscribe themselves without success. There are a few reasons why your contacts may be experiencing difficulties unsubscribing.

For email addresses

It could be because the email address you are sending campaigns to is an old address which has been redirected to a new email address the contact now uses.


The contact used to use the email address

Their company rebranded and their email address is now

The contact’s IT Dept. have set up a redirect so any emails sent to the first address are automatically forwarded to the second. So, even if is unsubscribed, emails sent to will still reach them, so this address also needs to be unsubscribed.

The other reason an email unsubscribe might appear to have failed is when email campaigns are sent to an alias. This means a single email address which acts as a distribution list for multiple other email addresses:

To no longer receive communications, the contact would either have to unsubscribe the alias address (affecting everyone who is part of the distribution list), or request with their IT team to be removed from the alias group (meaning they might miss out on other communications they do want to receive). For this reason, we do not recommend you include alias addresses in your email sends.

For mobile numbers

Some service providers or mobile devices see short codes as premium rate numbers. If a contact tries to send an opt-out SMS message and they have a network block for sending SMS to premium numbers, the opt-out won’t work. This appears as not sent for the contact who's trying to opt-out.

You can create an unsubscribe form to allow contacts to opt-out of your SMS marketing. Learn how in Create a custom unsubscribe form.

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