5 Best Practices for Developing Effective Email Preference Centers

It’s inevitable. Even if you’re consistently promoting great content, some customers will want to unsubscribe. The trick to soften the blow is to provide an option for subscribers to set their own preferences in terms of how often they hear from your brand or what type of content they receive. 

Enter email preference centers.  An email preference center allows customers to choose email frequency and content topics that better suit their preferences OR completely unsubscribe.  It is instrumental in limiting the number of opt-outs by letting customers segment themselves for you.

But how do you create a preference center that works and is actually used by your customers?  Below are 5 best practices many of our clients have used to build next generation preference centers that keep their email subscribers happy.

1. Be Transparent

Upon visiting your email preference center, a few things should be immediately obvious to your customer:

  • A reminder of the benefits of staying subscribed
  • The type of communications they currently receive
  • The mailing frequency of said communications

The more transparent you are about your email programs, the better.  All communication options should be listed with a brief (1 sentence) description of each one. Allowing customers to view a sample of the various types of emails they can receive from your brand is also a great strategy. 

Of course, some customers will want to unsubscribe from all communications so that option should be clearly displayed and easy to follow.  If a customer decides to unsubscribe from all, make sure to include a short survey to help your team better understand the reasons for opting out and be better prepared to improve your mailing program.

2. Start with Good Design

Good landing page design is critical for building an effective email preference center. Unlike registration pages where stepped questions are often the way to go, a preference center should fit on a single page. Preference centers with multiple pages or tabs see little activity beyond the first page. Since you are squeezing everything onto one page, make sure you are using standard design practices such as proper hierarchy, horizontal rules, etc. to ensure content is easily digestible.

And finally, don’t forget to make sure your preference center is mobile responsive. Remember to design for the smallest screen first and work out to larger screen sizes.

3. Write Copy with a Human Touch

Well-written copy can have a big impact on your unsubscribe rates. When your audience feels connected to the people behind the brand, it’s much harder to cut ties. Good preference center copy should have personality. Have some fun with it and be cheeky. 

Another way to stave off unsubscribes with copy is the “are you sure?” technique.  Acknowledge that the customer wants to unsubscribe, but offer a very low frequency email option they can choose instead, for instance, once per month.  Just make sure to keep the “unsubscribe all” option prominently displayed. The examples below do a great job of infusing personality into their copy.

4. Email Footer Preference Tactic

So what if you’ve set up a well-designed preference center page, but it’s not getting traffic?  One tactic to nudge customers to adjust their settings is to include a snapshot of their profile in the email footer. This way the customer sees his or her current settings and is more inclined to click and correct inaccurate information. Remember, the great thing about email preference centers is that they allow customers to tell you what they’re interested in.

And it works.  Using this tactic, one B2B enterprise computer hardware client we worked with saw a 217% increase in preference center visits.

5. Email Campaigns “Click-to-Preference” Tactic

Another tactic to drive preference center traffic is deploying a stand-alone email campaign that asks your subscribers a question about their preferences. The question can be imbedded directly in the email so when users select a response, they are taken to a thank you page displaying their updated settings. 

To further drive ROI, this ‘thank you’ page can be set to redirect to a custom landing page that features products or content informed by the site visitor’s specific preferences.  That way, not only are you gathering valuable insights on your customers’ interests, but you’re also driving traffic to a conversion optimized landing page. To reduce your team’s time and resources, these preference center email campaigns can be set up to automatically trigger twice per year.

One of the biggest challenges marketers face is delivering content that is engaging and personalized across a variety of different customer personas.  Email preference centers help keep hard-earned subscribers happy by allowing them to decide what, when, and how they would like to hear from you.  By implementing the above tactics you’ll not only fend off dreaded unsubscribes, but also develop better insights into how to best market to your subscriber base.

Want to learn more?  Check out our SVP of Worldwide Creative, Matt Caldwell’s webinar “Next Generation Registration Pages & Preference Centers: Emerging Trends and Best Practices.”

Author Bio

Dan Speers

As a Marketing Strategist, Dan helps our Marketing team identify opportunities and challenges and then develop a plan to meet our objectives. But most importantly, he ensures we let data guide our decisions by consistently measuring and analyzing results. Dan loves implementing new ideas, especially with the talented and creative teams here at Yesmail!