Auto-Suppression List
Marketing Cloud

Auto-Suppression List- An approach to prevent specific email addresses to receive emails from Marketing Cloud

Business Case: 

The client wants to restrict the Marketing Cloud from sending emails to subscribers whose emails have been hard-bounced (you can choose any specific conditions as per your business requirement, we are using Hard Bounce emails for reference).

Although the above requirement can be fulfilled using an exclusion DE, that involves manual work. What if the client wants to get rid of this manual work?
Don’t worry we have a solution for this. We can leverage the functionality of the Auto-Suppression List.

Solution Approach:

  • To solve the above business requirement we will first create an Auto-Suppression list.
  • Next, we will fetch the data using SQL query, drop that data on FTP or Safe House, then import the data and update the Auto-Suppression lists.

Auto-suppression lists typically include addresses with a history of spam complaints, unsubscribe lists from previous providers or advertisers, addresses of your competitors, and cancelled customers. They serve as a do-not-contact list for your emails. It automatically suppresses email addresses from being sent an email without requiring the user to select a list manually. 


Let’s dive into the detailed solution-

Step:1  Create an Auto-Suppression List

You can create Auto-Suppression lists from the ‘Admin’ section in Email Studio by clicking the ‘Create’ Button, as shown in the below screenshot. You can define Auto-Suppression lists to suppress email addresses by sender profile or send classification. You can also assign an Auto-Suppression list to an entire enterprise or a specific business unit, as shown in the screenshots below. 

Follow the below-mentioned steps:

  1. In Email Studio, click Admin. (1)
  2. Click Auto-Suppression Configuration under Send Management. (2)
  3. Click Create(3)

4. Give the list a name and description in the ‘Properties’ section.

5. Complete the ‘Attributes’ section. (5) This section displays two default attributes (viz. Email Address and Date Added). You can add or delete other  attributes as required (for this scenario, we have used Bounce Category as an additional field).

6. In the Assignment section, you can choose one or more sender profiles (6) or  the CAN-SPAM Classification Type which can be Commercial, Transactional, or Both (7). For this scenario, we have selected ‘Both’ that include transactional as well as commercial emails).You can choose where to assign this Auto-Suppression List. You can assign the list to All current and future business units or specific business units. (8)

7. Click Save. (9)

Step:2  Create a Target Data Extension

A Target data extension is required to store the bounce data from the SQL query that we will be using in the automation below.

NoteThe attributes in the target data extension should be the same as in Auto-Suppression List.

Step:3 Create an Automation

    1. Navigate to the Journey Builder tab and select Automation Studio to create an automation. 
    2. In this Automation, we created the SQL Query to fetch all the data from the All Subscriber List whose  Bounce Sub Category is “User Unknown” or “Inactive Account” in the last 24 hours.


Select B.SubscriberKey, B.EventDate, B.BounceCategory, B.BounceSubcategory, J.EmailAddress
from [_bounce] B
inner Join [_Subscribers] J
on J.SubscriberKey = B.SubscriberKey
where B.EventDate > dateadd(hour, -24, getdate())
AND B.BounceSubcategory = ‘User Unknown’ OR B.BounceSubcategory = ‘Inactive Account’

3. To store the data of the SQL query, use the target data extension that we have created in Step-2. Select the Overwrite Data Action that deletes existing data from the target data extension and replaces it with new data. 

4. Verification Activity: After SQL Query, we have added a Verification Activity to avoid unintended automation outcomes. The activity lets you select a target data extension in your automation and evaluate the target data extension for the conditions you set. As per this use case, we have used the condition specified below in the screenshot to check the record count so that the activity can stop the automation if the conditions are met.


5. Data Extract Activity: The Automation Studio data extract activity creates one or more zipped files for your use outside the Marketing Cloud application. You can also use this activity to convert an XML file into a comma-delimited, tab-delimited, or pipe-delimited file to import into your account. 

Considerations while using Data Extract Activity : 

  • When using the data extract activity in automation, include the file transfer activity in a separate step. This action prevents the file transfer activity from looking for the data extract file before the data extract is complete. 
  • The fields included in a data extract file vary according to the Extract Type you choose. 
  • You set Extract Range or the period for which to extract tracking data. The Extract Range always ends at the time the data extract activity starts. 
  • Not all extract types use a date range. 
  • While selecting the Extract Multiple Data Extension List Data option using the standard tracking extract, run the extract at the Enterprise level. 
  • When you select the “Include” option for a data extract, one of the compressed files the activity produces contains the data you included. 
  • Click and Open tracking data is rounded to the nearest second. 
  • To ensure that the file transfer activity can find your data extract file, do not use %%Minute%% or %%Second%% variables in the file naming pattern.


6. File Transfer Activity: In Marketing Cloud Automation Studio, you can unzip or decrypt a file found in the Marketing Cloud’s Enhanced FTP directory. With the File Transfer Activity, you can securely transfer files from the Marketing Cloud’s secure file transfer location, the Safehouse, to a selected FTP location.

  •    To move a file from the Marketing Cloud’s secure file transfer location to a designated FTP location, use Move a File from Safehouse, formerly the Upload option.

7. Import File Activity: Use this activity to import the data into the Auto-Suppression list you are using.

      Complete the Properties section:

1. Name

2. Description

3. Click on Next


4. Select the File Location and write the file Name into the File Naming Pattern section.

5.Click on Next.


6. Destination Type – Import the information . Inside the Import Activity, click the ‘Data Extensions’ tab and then scroll down to the bottom to a folder named ‘Auto-Suppression Configuration’. It contains the Auto-Suppression lists inside your account. Choose your list from this folder.

7. Click on Next

8.Select the Data Action and Map the Fields. For this use case, select Add only data action. 

9.Click Next.



10.At the end of the Import activity REVIEW screen will appear  that shows the summary of the Import Activity

11. Click on Finish.


12. Save this automation. You can schedule this automation or can run it once. Click on Run Once, ‘Select All Activities’, and click Run. 

13. After you run this automation, your hard-bounced data will automatically update in the Auto-Suppression list.

If you’re looking for more information about Auto-suppression list, check out this Salesforce documentation

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