To Preference Centre or NOT to Preference Centre…

To Preference Centre or NOT to Preference Centre…


A hot topic for many of my clients at the moment is the Preference Centre. If you haven’t heard this term before it is where a contact is given the opportunity to select which information they want from you, and how they want to receive it.  A Preference Centre is usually created using a form managed by your Marketing Automation engine and consists of a series of fields on the form and some smart logic in your Marketing Automation/CRM system.

Is a Preference Centre the right fit for you?

Here are some things to consider:

  • Try to have between 3 and 6 communication types to opt in/out of. Too many and your contacts will become overwhelmed [and your staff will get confused too when you’re presenting this back in the CRM].  Too few and, well – “whats the point?
  • Remember to label the fields in a really, really, really obvious manner, using short, clear and precise language. Make all of them either Opt-in or Opt out.  And don’t mix tenses/styles
    • DONT: make one “opt-in” and another one “Inactive” for example. Because on the page, one would be ticked and the other not ticked … and this just leads to confusion from a UX perspective.
  • An opt-out process is a legal requirement, but the preference centre’s goal is to not have them unsubscribe from everything. With that in mind, your Preference Centre shouldn’t be just a single checkbox saying ‘unsubscribe’ [that is not a preference centre, just a way of rapidly reducing your marketing database size].  With this in mind, give your customers a choice of opting out of certain content product information or information from you. Also, allow them to “opt out for 60 days” to give their email address a break if they’re going away.
  • If you have more than 6 options for opt in and out, then consider how you might simplify it as best you can – perhaps group them nicely in the form.
  • Consider how they arrive at the Preference Centre landing page. Usually this is by clicking “manage preferences” at he footer of an email sent by your organisation, but you may want to have a link directly to your Preference Centre from your website to encourage people to opt-in.
  • Do your Preference options make sense to your contacts? If your contacts aren’t likely to understand what they are opting in or out of, they are likely to just Unsubscribe altogether.
  • Will every team member who uses the systems to send emails understand the Preference Centre and how to use it? If not, remember to train them. Moving from a simple unsubscribe to a Preference Centre is not to be taken lightly! You still need to adhere to spam laws… and that leads to my final (and very important) point…
  • Does a Preference Centre align with your privacy policy and legal statements? Discuss this with your legal team before you build it.

How to build a user-friendly Preference Centre:

Here are some simple steps to follow – the details will be slightly different depending on the platform you are using to execute this, but if you need any assistance, just drop me a line:

  • Map the journey you would like your contacts to experience
  • Create your Opt-In and Opt-Out options (usually this is creating fields in your system, but you’ll need to consider what’s already in existience).
  • Create the form the contacts will see.
  • Create the landing page that this form will sit on with a description of what they are doing – remember to clearly state whether clicking this button will opt them IN or OUT and make it consistent here and also in your CRM.
  • Create a friendly follow-up page informing them that their preferences have been update (this also gives you the option to ask for feedback if they have unsubscribed from everything).
  • Create some logic to handle things such as:
    • A contact who has previously Unsubscribed from everything returns and opts-in to one of your communications – they should no longer be considered unsubscribed.
    • A contact who either in one go or over time selects Opt-Out of everything – do you want to “unsubscribe” them from all?
    • if your staff have access to update a contact’s preferences then ensure you are tracking whether it was the contact who updated it or your staff member.
  • Once you are comfortable that you are all set, remember to TEST TEST TEST!
  • Don’t forget that once your Preference Centre is set-up you will need to include a check of each opt-in for any email communication you are doing. So each member of staff who sends communications must understand how to use your Preference Centre
  • And don’t forget to update your email footers to point to the Preference Centre.

If you are unsure whether a Preference Centre is right for you – just drop me a line and I’ll be happy to assist in making the best decision for your organisation.

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