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How to Create Powerful Preference Center to Retain Your Subscribers

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I was getting daily updates from a brand, which after a certain time got too overwhelming. So, I decided to unsubscribe but saw an option to manage my preferences. I clicked on the link and luckily got an option to change the frequency from daily to weekly.

It’s a win-win for both parties - I get to reduce email frequency, and that brand gets to keep its valuable subscriber.

So, that's one of the benefits of preference center. If you aren't well-versed with what is it and how to create and promote your preferences center, this guide will help you.

Table of contents

What is a preference center?

Preference center is a page or a dashboard on your website that allows subscribers to customize the emails they want to receive from your organizations. It enables users to opt-out of certain emails and gets more relevant emails.

A preference center isn’t a legal requirement like an unsubscribe link, but having one can give your organization many advantages.

Benefits of having a preference center

The benefits that you can get via the preference center are as follows:

✅ Helps in reducing unsubscribe rate

Users may unsubscribe due to many reasons, such as

  • Irrelevant emails
  • Frequent emails
  • Changes in interests, etc.

A preference center can help resolve these issues by giving users options to opt-out of certain emails instead of opting out of all emails altogether. It will, in turn, help in reducing your email unsubscribe rate.

✅ Helps you get deeper insights into your subscribers

You can get deeper insights into subscriber preferences such as what kind of emails they prefer, whether they want daily or weekly updates, and so on. Using all this data, you can:

✅ Leads to increase in email deliverability

If you send emails that users want, the chances of getting emails delivered to their inbox increase. Besides, more relevant and targeted emails will lead to higher engagements. It will also enhance your email marketing metrics such as email deliverability.

✅ Collect first-party data

Getting insights into users’ behavior might be difficult as Google plans to end support for third-party cookies by the end of 2022. In such cases, the preference center serves an important role. You can collect first-party customer data to safely run your email campaigns.

What can you include in the preference center?

There are many options that you can offer in your preference center. Some of the most useful are as follows:

📋 Email content preferences

One of the most basic preferences to give users is to include different kinds of emails you send. You can offer the following options regarding the email content:

Email type: If you send various emails, such as newsletters and promotional emails, you can add all these options in your preference center. For instance, Mailmodo offers three different varieties of emails subscribers can choose from:

Preference center - Options to choose email content

Topics or interests: Knowing your users’ interests can help you develop a more segmented and personalized email campaign. Besides, if you offer different products and services, you can ask users about what product they are most interested in.

For instance, Adidas allows its users to personalize their emails based on their interests:

Adidas preference center - Interest options

  • Language preferences: If your subscriber database is spread across different nations and languages, then you must give an option to change the language as per their choice.

⌛ Frequency and timings of the emails

Frequency and timings are highly relevant to the content of your emails. Sometimes, users like your emails but want them less often. In that case, giving them the option to reduce the number of emails or adjust the timings can be really helpful. If you send many emails, you can customize the frequency and timings in many different ways:

  • Daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

  • Emails on specific days as shown in this preference center example by MarketingProfs.

Marketingprofs giving users an option to manage frequency of emails.

  • Snooze emails: Sometimes, users want to stop receiving emails during a specific period, say, during a family vacation. A great preference center example of giving a snooze option is by Oracle. They allow subscribers to snooze an email for 3 months.

Oracle preference center with snooze email option

Source - Oracle

🔓 User’s personal information

You can use a preference center to allow users to give and update their personal information such as email addresses, zip code, date of birth, etc. When collecting that information, it is wise to mention how you will use it.

For instance, this preference center example by ABC widget shows how they collect personal information that might be useful to send relevant emails.

ABC widget preference center

📢 Channel preference

Do you know the preference center need not be just email-centric?

You use them as a holistic communication hub to let users choose their preferred channel to hear from you. So, for example, it might be via SMS, push notification, etc.

Spotify has done a great job by giving users an option to select the channel they prefer to hear from them.

Spotify preference center

Email preference center best practices

Now that you know what you can offer in your email preference centers, you must know how to design or create them. We have curated a list of best practices that you can follow:

1. Add an unsubscribe button in your preference center

If you are going to replace the unsubscribe link with a preference center link, you must provide an option to opt-out of all of the emails. It will help you remain compliant with various acts such as CAN-SPAM, GDPR, etc.

But, in case you want to have both unsubscribe and preference center links in your emails, it’s still a good idea to have an unsubscribe option in your preference center.

Sometimes users click on the manage the preferences link but don’t like anything you offer. In such cases, having an unsubscribe link can be helpful 👇

Preference center with unsubscribe link

2. Keep everything on a single page

Ensure that everything is on a single page so that users don’t have to go to more steps to manage their email preferences.

3. Make it responsive

Your preference page should be responsive for different devices and screen sizes like your emails.

4. Be transparent and brief with your subscribers

You must tell subscribers what each selection means or what they can expect if they select a certain option. And if you are asking them about their personal information, such as their date of birth, you must inform them why and how you would use that information.

So, you have your preference center ready, but how do you make subscribers use it? Obviously, you can’t just sit and wait. You need to make users aware of it. So how do you do that?

Actionable tips to make users use your preference center

Here are some steps that you can take to make your audience aware of the preference center:

• Send emails telling users about your preference center

Straightforward right?

One of the easiest methods is to create an email informing subscribers that you’ve got a preference center for them and ask them to have a look at it.

Look at how Autotrader did it:

Autotrader welcome email -  Asking users to manage their preference

Source: Really Good Emails

• Add it to your welcome emails

So, you have got a new subscriber, and they will probably get a welcome email. You can make a better first impression by briefing them on what they signed up for and giving them an option to manage their preferences. It will help build trust and make them feel that you care about their interests and preferences.

• Make it easy to locate in all your emails

One of the easiest ways to get people to notice the preference center is to add it in your email footer near the unsubscribe link. In this way, if they unsubscribe, they notice that they can manage their preferences instead of opting out entirely.

Conclusion

An email preference center is a great way to generate higher email marketing ROI and help retain users by providing them with the content they want.

How cool is it that your users are telling you what they want from your brand?

So, start creating your preference center if you haven’t had one by following the best practices mentioned above.

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