As marketers, we expend a lot of effort at the beginning of our marketing automation journey agonizing over the best ways to keep our customers engaged and making sure we have fully defined content topics for our customers to choose their interests. After we get our preference center finalized and deployed, we keep a close eye on our unsubscribe numbers and spend time trying to correlate any unsubscribe spikes to particular content or delivery channels. But we often fall into the trap that the preference center is a static marketing offering – that we can “set it and forget it.”
Peter Briggs, the Director of Marketing Strategy Consulting at Oracle wrote that “the goal of a preference center is to persuade a customer to continue receiving marketing messages – even if it’s at a reduced frequency or via a lower-ROI channel – because any communication is better than no communication.” That got me thinking about our preference centers and the need to incrementally improve over time to meet the needs of our customers as they grow more sophisticated in their preferences and knowledge of our company and product offerings.
So, where do you start spiffing up your preference center? The Data & Marketing Association (DMA) sent out a survey to ask consumers why they unsubscribe and, not surprisingly, the number one answer was “I receive too many emails.” Giving your customers control over the amount of messages they receive can be a great way to allow them to “opt-down” on the frequency of communication rather than opting out completely.
Take this example from Zulily. Here, they they effectively incorporate some frequency options into their email preference center to encourage customers to take a break rather than opting out totally:
If you want to get even more granular, take this example from MarketingProfs. They show how you can allow your customers to choose which day they would like to receive content. By giving customers the choice, the theory is that they will be more receptive to your messages on the days they are expecting to receive them.
It’s all about putting your customer in control so they can still receive vital information that you need and want to share with them, while allowing them to consume it at the pace they prefer.
Another way to augment your preference center is to set a fatigue rule for emails. This rule lets your subscribers define the upper limit on the number of emails they can be sent over a time period, such as a month. In this example, Optimove allows its customers to choose the amount of days between communications that best suits their tolerance level. Additionally, their customers can choose a “black-out” period where they will receive no emails from the company.
Additionally, the example from Qatar Airways below allows their customers to define the upper limit of emails they are willing to receive.
If you have multiple communication types that have different delivery frequencies, fatigue rule implementation may become a bit unwieldy to manage, both for you as the marketer and for your customers. Alternatively, you could set an overall communication cap within your segmentation criteria so that you don’t fatigue your audience by filling up their inboxes too frequently.
Today, email isn’t the only communication channel, and we spend a great deal of time trying to understand what message to deliver to what channel and when. Adding in channel preferences to your preference center is another great update you can make to allow customers to choose the channel where they’d like to receive your messaging – email, SMS, direct mail, phone, etc.
Spotify has a great preference center, primarily for SMS and email that lets the subscribers decide how to get the latest and greatest news:
Allowing your customers to decide how and when they’d like to receive your content puts them in the driver’s seat and helps to ensure that your messaging is anticipated, accepted and acted upon.
Change of Address
Lastly, many companies struggle keeping up with their customers as they change jobs, and as a result, email addresses. Lists quickly become outdated as email addresses become abandoned and you lose your customer activity history when they re-subscribe with a new email address. One way to address this is to provide a confirmation field for the customer’s email address within your preference center. This upfit to your preference center can easily allow for email address change while continuing existing subscription choices, thus maintaining the integrity of your customer’s profile.
The example below shows that the customer only needs to provide the new email address, and back-end processing steps on the preference center form can attach the new email address to their existing profile in your marketing automation system as well as your CRM system.
All of the above preference center suggestions mean nothing if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do. If you give your customers a choice on frequency, channel and/or type of content they’d like to receive, you must honor those preferences. Nothing erodes trust faster than ignoring what your customers have gone through the trouble of telling you what they want. Conversely, implementing some of these best-in-class practices into your preference center can turn your “unsubscribe page” into an effective communication channel that refines your marketing efforts and truly meets the needs and desires of your customers.
Need some help designing or updating your preference center? Relationship One is ready to help you achieve greater success. Contact us today!
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