B2B and B2C Marketers have been using email marketing as an essential and proven tool for their brand to effectively engage with their customers and prospects for decades now. However, with the increasing volume of emails being sent (347 billion per day), it has become more challenging to ensure that the content Marketers are sending is valuable, relevant and engaging to their intended audiences. To address this challenge, many businesses are turning to email preference centers as a way to improve their overall messaging strategy while providing a great customer experience.
In this article, we explore why businesses are leaning towards implementing an email preference center, the benefits that it can bring to both the sender and the recipient, as well as some of the compliance risks associated with implementing one.
What is an email preference center?
An email preference center is a web page or a section of an email that allows your subscribers to choose their email communication preferences. Subscribers can then select which types of emails they want to receive, how frequently they want to receive them, and which topics or products are most of interest to them.
You’ve likely received emails directing you to a landing page with a range of options from newsletters to promotional offers, event invitations to product updates. As a subscriber, you may also be given the option to unsubscribe from certain types of emails or from all emails altogether.
While receiving those options may initially seem trivial to the recipient, an email preference center can be a powerful tool for Marketers to tailor their email messaging strategy to the specific needs and interests of their subscribers, and perhaps retain a client or prospect that they were about to lose through a standard unsubscribe option. Ideally, by giving your customers more choice, you are pursuing an opt-down in their subscription as opposed to a full opt-out.
What are some of the benefits of implementing an email preference center?
Implementing an email preference center can bring several benefits for both the email sender and recipient. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Enhanced customer experience: By allowing email recipients to choose the types of emails they receive, the preference center helps to ensure that the content they receive is relevant to their interests and preferences. This can improve their overall experience with your brand and increase their engagement with your emails.
- Increased engagement and retention: When recipients are receiving emails that align with their interests, they are more likely to engage with the content and less likely to unsubscribe or mark the emails as spam. This can help to increase their retention as subscribers and foster a long-term relationship with your brand.
- Improved email deliverability: By giving recipients the ability to manage their email preferences, you can reduce the likelihood that they will mark your emails as spam or unsubscribe. This can improve your email sender reputation and help ensure that your emails are delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes.
- Insights and data collection: The preference center can provide valuable data and insights into your subscribers’ interests and preferences, which can help you tailor your email campaigns (and your content strategy) to better meet their needs and understand what matters most to them.
Implementing an email preference center can help you to provide a better customer experience, increase engagement and retention, improve email deliverability, and collect valuable data and insights.
What are the compliance risks associated with implementing an email preference center?
While implementing an email preference center can bring many benefits, there are also compliance risks that need to be considered. Here are some of the key compliance risks associated with implementing a preference center:
- Data privacy laws: Depending on where your subscribers are located, you may need to comply with data privacy laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States. These laws may require you to obtain explicit consent from subscribers to collect and use their personal data, including their email address and preferences.
- Email marketing laws: Email marketing laws such as the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States or the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) in Canada may require you to include specific information in your emails, such as your contact information and an unsubscribe link. If you use a preference center to manage email subscriptions, you must ensure that it complies with these laws.
- Transparency and clarity: It is important to be transparent and clear about what data you are collecting and how it will be used. If you use a preference center to collect data, you must ensure that it is clear what types of emails subscribers are signing up for and how their data will be used.
- Security: Preference centers may collect and store personal data, so it is important to ensure that they are secure and protected from unauthorized access or breaches.
- Accessibility: The email preference center must be accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other accessibility laws. Design your email preference center with accessibility in mind by using inclusive language, clear labels, and following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
To minimize compliance risks when implementing a preference center, it is important to be aware of applicable laws and regulations, clearly communicate with subscribers about how their data will be used, and ensure that the preference center is secure and compliant with applicable regulations.
How do we know if our organization is ready to implement an email preference center?
Implementing an email preference center can bring several benefits for both the email sender and recipient, but it may not be the right strategy for every organization. Here are some factors to consider when deciding if you are ready to implement an email preference center:
- Email list size and diversity: The size and diversity of your email list can be an important factor in determining if you are ready for a preference center. If you have a large and diverse email list with subscribers who have different interests and preferences, a preference center can help you deliver more relevant content to each subscriber.
- Marketing goals: Your marketing goals can also influence whether a preference center is right for you. If you are focused on increasing engagement and retention, a preference center can help you deliver more targeted content to subscribers and improve their overall experience. However, if your marketing goals are more focused on acquisition, a preference center may not be as critical.
- Resources: Do you have the necessary resources to implement and maintain a preference center over time? Implementing a preference center requires resources, including time and budget, to design, develop, and maintain. More specifically, data resources that will ensure records are being updated based on preferences and that you have the necessary fields included as part of this to move forward so that people can be scrubbed (or added) as needed from future communications.
- Compliance: As mentioned earlier, implementing a preference center can bring compliance risks, including data privacy laws and email marketing laws. You will need to ensure that you are prepared to comply with all applicable regulations and guidelines.
- Customer feedback:It can be helpful to gather feedback from your subscribers about their email preferences and whether they would find a preference center valuable. This can help you determine if there is a need for a preference center and what features would be most valuable to your subscribers.
- Record keeping and documentation: Finally, maintain accurate records and documentation for compliance purposes, including proof of consent, email preference changes, and unsubscribe requests. This helps demonstrate compliance with relevant regulations in case of audits or investigations.
To decide if you are ready to implement an email preference center, you will need to consider your email list size and diversity, marketing goals, resources, compliance risks, customer feedback, and most importantly, ask yourself if you are actually able to act on the data the customer is giving to you and make good on it. Implementing an email preference center and not acting on those preferences is incredibly detrimental to your customer’s experience with your brand.
An email preference center is a helpful tool for Marketers to better understand the needs of their customers and what they are interested in obtaining from your brand. With this level of personalization, you’re on your way to serving your customers in a relevant and timely manner, leaving them with an overall positive experience of your brand. Need support understanding how best to support your audience with their preferences? Talk to Shift Paradigm today!