More than 300 billion emails are sent around the world each day, so there is no doubt the prevalence of email is not only reflected in the way we communicate as individuals – it has become a powerful engagement and business development tool for organizations across all industries. Email allows organizations to promote services, convey ideas, transmit data, and much more. Email can transform an organization’s marketing strategy when it comes to effectively communicating with their consumers. However, a common dilemma that consumers face is having inboxes flooded with an overwhelming number of marketing emails. This can lead to consumers opting out of their email subscription, resulting in a loss of consumer engagement between that company and their consumer.
Enter the email preference center: a not-so-new but often overlooked feature that can help find ways of mitigating the issue. The preference center is a tool that allows consumers to control what messages they receive and how often they receive them. In our extensive work in the area of digital and email marketing, we have discovered several leading practices and attributes of a great consumer preference center, and how these are reflected in varying companies across a wide range of industries.
5 Leading Practices in Email Marketing Strategy
Our research indicates there are five leading email marketing strategy practices, that no matter the industry, product, or consumer type, should be considered in the development of a preference center.
1. Provide Frequency Options to Consumers
Consumers should have the right to choose – especially when it relates to how often they’d like to hear from a company or brand. With approximately 53% of consumers opting out of emails because they receive too many from that brand, companies should offer varying frequency levels (e.g., weekly, biweekly, monthly) in their preference center as an additional attempt to retain consumers. In our research, we have found that leading brands often neglect this last step – after all, it may be a consumer ‘divorcing’ the brand – but leading organizations give thoughtful consideration to this last step and offer alternatives to stay engaged with consumers in ways that resonate and work for both the brand and the consumer.
2. Brand the Preference Center Interface
Branding the preference center reinforces trust with the consumer as it provides a sense of familiarity as consumers navigate the pages and make their subscription selections. With data privacy and security becoming an ever-growing issue across the world, it is essential to provide a platform that reduces any suspicion and stays aligned to the overall brand ethos from end to end.
3. Simplification is Key
The preference center interface should be easy to follow without requiring consumers to go through any unnecessary navigation. Content should be presented in a simplified manner with information that is suitable for the consumer and relevant to the company’s brand. Use cases can be complex in some industries (e.g., for companies that cross over across B2C and B2B segments), but finding an efficient and effective way to walk this fine line is key to driving a strong brand experience with consumers.
4. Optimize the Preference Center for Mobile Devices
Nearly 50% of emails are opened by consumers via an application on a mobile device, which is why it’s in the best interest of marketers to customize their emails for mobile. Having a preference center that is mobile-friendly ensures a satisfactory experience for the consumer to meet them when and where they want to be met.
5. Allow Distinct Options to Access the Preference Center or Directly Unsubscribe
The consumer should be able to access the preference center or unsubscribe completely within a company’s marketing email. This can be accomplished by providing separate links – one to the unsubscribe page and one to the preference center. A direct link to unsubscribe satisfies the requirement under the CAN-SPAM laws. Furthermore, providing a distinct link directly to the preference center allows easy navigation for the consumer – and increases the chances of retaining them.
By taking the above email marketing strategy practices into consideration, organizations have the power to bolster their relationship with their consumers. Email preference centers are designed to provide what we all want: the ability to choose. They allow the consumer to select their communication frequency, opt out of receiving emails entirely, and can serve as a general area for companies to communicate relevant information to their consumers. Organizations and consumers alike can reap the benefits if a preference center is utilized effectively.
Contributions by Edith DePoy