ActiveCampaign Forum

Best Practices For Setting Up "Invisible Selling Machine" In ActiveCampaign

Hey all,

New user to active campaign here.

I just finished reading Ryan Deiss’s book “Invisible Selling Machine” and loved it. I’m looking to set up my marketing automation such that it follows Ryan’s strategy (indoctrination series, engagement series, ascension, segmentation, and re-engagement).

Anyway, I started working on my funnels and quickly became overwhelmed with how I’m going to have to split people into different lists at different points of the funnel, etc.

I was curious if anyone uses the “invisible selling machine” strategy and if so, what are some best practices to keep the funnels as simple as possible? Do you have one list or multiple? Do you use tags to segment your list as opposed to having leads subscribe and unsubscribe from certain lists?

Look forward to hearing from you!




You’re best to keep the list number to a minimum. I recommend 3:

  • Master List
  • Customers
  • Newsletter (optional)

You want to avoid the mess of subscribing/unsubscribing contacts into and out of multiple lists when possible. So yes, use Tags to help you segment the contacts.

Have all your marketing efforts direct new leads to your Master List. Use Tags to identify where they came from:

LM - ABC Free Report
LM - XYZ Cheat Sheet
LEAD - Newsletter Signup
CU - My Epic Post

LM = Lead Magnet
CU = Content Upgrade

If you do want to add them to a Newsletter List, you can decide when to do this in a particular Automation. For example, say the Contact enters by requesting Lead Magnet: ABC Free Report. You can then put them through a consumption series first, then pass them to an indoctrination series, then at end tag and add them to newsletter list. All up to you how to handle it, but it allows you to prevents new contacts from getting newsletter emails until they finish going through certain automation sequences.

Having a separate Customer List allows the Contact to unsubscribe from your future marketing (and possibly newsletter) lists, without you losing the ability to communicate with them as your customer if needed.

Hope this helps.


Hey Ed,

I appreciate your response. What you said definitely makes a lot of sense.

A quick follow up question:

Let’s say I have two lead magnets. I want Lead Magnet A to have a different automation than Lead Magnet B. In other words, I want people who sign up to get Lead Magnet A receive a different set of emails than people who sign up for Lead Magnet B.

In Active Campaign when I go to add a start for the respective automation, how do I get people who sign up for Lead Magnet A receive the correct automation? If I funnel all leads into a master list, how do I separate out the people who sign up for Lead Magnet A versus Lead Magnet B so they receive the correct automation?

Thanks in advance for your help! I appreciate it!



Well, there are a couple different ways depending on how you are pulling in those leads.

Some tools allow you to connect to AC via the API and only select the list you want the prospect added to. Some also allow you to specify the AC form associated with that list that the lead should be passed through. And some more even allow you to specify comma separated tags to pass on over to AC with form submission.

So, if your tool allows you to set the Tags, just set your automations to trigger based upon the specific tag added to the Contact. If tags cannot be specified and the associated AC Form is, that your trigger for the automation will be Form Submit…and your first step should be to add an appropriate Tag.

If your tool only allows you to specify a list, then they suck! You need to do a work-around for this. Create a separate list that will be used only for this tool and the specific lead magnet. You will then need to trigger your automations based on a Subscribe to that specific list…which then you will want to immediately add a Tag. You’ll then want to also subscribe them to your Master list too. In the automation, you can then unsubscribe them from this temporary list…or just let them stay there. But if you unsubscribe them from ANY list, AC won’t let you re-import them in the future if you have any reason to do so. We hope AC fixes that little snafu.

Hope all that makes sense.

If you need some consulting on your setup, reach out!



re: Lists

You should have different lists. I do multiple lists and tagging. What happens when you only have “master” lists, is people decide to unsubscribe from certain automations for specific topics/lead magnets.

What happens? You’re totally screwed. They are now removed from your one “master” list, and you can’t send them any more emails unless it’s to your customer list.

As mentioned already, some tools only allow you to subscribe people to lists via API as well.

So I’d recommend having multiple lists for each segment or lead magnet. There’s nothing messy about it, it keeps things organized, and is much faster to send emails to specific lists than anything else.



One would argue that if they unsubscribe from a lead magnet automation (the list it represents), they more than likely don’t want to receive any more emails from you. So losing them from your Master list in that case is no biggie. No one needs people on their list that don’t want to receive their emails.

That would merely be a baseless assumption if you don’t know how things are setup. I know, for a fact, it isn’t a valid assumption on my personal account and many of my clients.

Not to mention, the same holds true for future automations someone may join for a series on a sub-niche related to the core topic. Users may decide they want to opt out of that automated series and not from all your emails on the core niche. Again, this isn’t theory. It happens for myself and clients all the time.

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Hey Ed,

Again, thank you for the detailed response.

I’m currently using Leadpages (allows you to specify a form) and Sumome List Builder Pro (does not seem to let you specify a form or tag - only a list). So it appears I will have to use the workaround for Sumome.

I agree that if someone unsubscribes, I would want them off of all my lists. Just putting myself in their shoes - if I unsubscribe from someone and continue to receive emails from them because I’m subscribed to multiple lists, I would quickly become annoyed (and probably mark them as spam). So it makes sense to keep the # of lists to a minimum.

I am going to implement your advice Ed and will definitely be reaching out for consulting if I need any additional guidance. I truly appreciate the help!



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Thank you for the response. I’m sure there are multiple ways to go about achieving the same end result. What you are doing most likely works well for your market. But for me in particular, I would want people to not receive any of my emails if they unsubscribe at any point.


Hey Jason.

I’m not talking about just my market. i’m talking about tons of different market niches.

I’m also not talking about not giving them the option to unsubscribe from everything.

I’m definitely talking about empowering your visitors and not making assumptions for them. Huge mistake marketers make is thinking they are their own customer.

How do I know any of this?

Again, tons of different niches. Here’s what happens when people start subscribing to different things that interest them and then you unsubscribe them from everything.

Contact: “What happened? I stopped receiving your emails. How can I get on your list again?”

Customer Service: “Hi firstname. I see that you unsubscribed from all our emails on x/xx/xx.”

Contact: “NO, I just didn’t want any more emails about x. I still want your emails on x, y, and z. Please put me back on your list”

So it’s just giving them the option to unsubscribe from certain things and still receive what they want. It’s not that difficult. AC has a tag for a single list and all lists. You can explain clearly what this link will do “i.e. stop receiving emails about x” or “click here to stop receiving all emails from”

I can tell you that I’ve personally made over 25k last year from people who have unsubscribed from one list and stayed on other lists.

I have clients that have made over six figures last year. How do I know? Because I am data driven and check all these things.

Here are a few quick examples:

Example A: Email marketing - Contact subscribes to learn how to kick ass in email marketing. Then subscribes to series about email marketing for affiliate promotion.
Marketer launches new series on how I make high five figures writing emails… which turns out to be all about email during product launches.

Contact just does affiliate marketing and doesn’t want any more emails about product launches.

Contact unsubscribes from product launch list and remains on email marketing and email marketing for affiliate promo list because THEY want to keep receiving them.

Example B: Survival/Prepper: Contact subscribes to prepare his family when Obama sets of the nukes just before he leaves office. Joins new series on how to deal with looters. Find out it’s all about lethal violence against looters and goes against his personal beliefs. Loves all the different emails and promotions about other topics related to prepping/survival. Opts out of the Dealing with Looter series… because he wants the other topics but not this one.

Example C: Self-Defense: Contact subscribes to learn about how to defend himself and his family against violent attackers with or without a gun. Marketer launches new series on gun training. Contact is opposed to guns and only wants info on unarmed self defense. And so on… There’s a ton more of different and much more detailed scenarios, but that should give you an idea.

Obviously, if say I started a new AC account on using emotion in your email marketing, and I only sent emails about emotion in emails. Unsubscribe from all lists would be perfectly reasonable.

Regardless, no worries. Just giving my opinion. All good. Ed definitely knows AC.



I set this up for my own website (really toning down the sales language though). Draw it out on paper first, it makes it much easier to setup on Active Campaign and I always use double opt-in. I know Ryan is on the fence about this, but I prefer to get qualified leads and if my viewers really want my stuff, they’ll confirm their email.

I did have to submit a ticket to AC support with the length of time it takes to send the confirmation message though. On a new launch, people were waiting up to 40 minutes for a confirmation message which was bad.


I 100% agree with the double opt-in. I am having trouble with it sending as well… currently on hold in the chat support to submit a ticket.

That’s a great point to sketch it all out on paper first. What has been working for me is to have a separate indoctrination series for each lead magnet where I can tag them with their specific interest. Then everyone funnels into my “segmentation list” (which is similar to a master list). Once I get my engagement series set up, I will have subscribers funneling right into an engagement series after the indoctrination.


Have you contacted support about this issue? I’d take screenshot of when a contact enters automation and when the 1st email goes out.

I’ve gone through The Machine program at Digital Marketer. I agree that you definitely need to write it out on paper (or whiteboard). And setting up with different lists is key to making everything work well. Make sure your unsubscribe links are set up so that they have an option to unsubscribe from all lists or just that list. It is easy to do in AC. And more importantly, it makes the peeps on your list happy. They are in control of their fate with your company.

I really hate when I like what a person is sending in general, but want off their latest launch emails, and then I see that if I unsubscribe it takes me off of everything.

I’ve also seen some companies who say in the body of the email “If you don’t want more emails on X, click this link.” LOVE THAT!

As for setting up the machine in AC, you would do well to make use of the “Deals” part. That way you can see who is in which part of your machine. :smiley:

4 posts were split to a new topic: Email confirmation emails

60% of the features in AC, I haven’t even looked at yet. Sometimes, it’s so overwhelming. Deals is something that’s on my goal list for this week.

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Perfect. I would continue to follow up with them. This should not be happening.

I’m barely scratching the surface, too! AC has lots to offer. Baby steps :smiley:


@africa, thanks for your thoughts! Could you explain how it is possible to give people the control on what to unsubscribe? I haven’t found info about that

@learnplus sorry it took me awhile to reply. I totally missed this. Just saw a discussion of dealing with the unsubscribe link here >>> Unsubscribe babble