If you truly want to accomplish the ultimate goal of every email marketer and that is to place your subscribers in charge of their overall experience in order to engage and retain them, you have to allow them to make their own choices and then you as brand marketer have to respect and cater to those choices. You can’t just pay lip service to providing customer choice, you have to rededicate your entire brand marketing effort to serving your customer! The preferred method to achieve that goal is through a superlative and comprehensive preference center.

Create the perfect preference center

Experienced marketers don’t have to be told that one of the most effective methods to provide the engagement that your email subscribing customers demand is to create and maintain the “perfect” preference center. Once your customer is able to easily and readily inform your brand of exactly what their preferences are, you are able to leverage that important data to craft a far more immersive and totally personalized experience which will result in a more profound rate of engagement, along with greater retention and drastically improved metrics.

Your subscriber’s interests change over time

A preference center is not just a page where your customers go to unsubscribe with a couple of clicks. The goal of the preference center is to provide your subscribers with a mechanism whereby they can customize the look, feel, content, and frequency of your brand’s email missives. They may opt to have a lower frequency or a higher one, or they may prefer to change their topic of interest. Perhaps they’ve outgrown skateboarding and are now more interested in mountain biking, or they’ve changed jobs and are now more interested in information technology devices than hydraulic jackhammers and power tools. Whatever the choices and preferences of your email subscribers are, and how they change over time, you have a responsibility as a brand to honor those requirements.

Accept a frequency decrease as graciously as an increase

It is obvious that today’s consumers want to be empowered with selecting exactly the type and frequency of information that they receive from you through their inboxes. If you are recalcitrant to provide them with an easy and fast way to express their preferences to you, then they might take the drastic step of dumping your emails into the spam folders which to most email marketers is a fate worse than death. If you are able to devise a preference center which portrays to the email subscriber the image of your brand as not only one that cares about their needs but is also ready to accept a decrease in frequency just as graciously and enthusiastically as an increase, then your customers will react to your overall campaign with a more positive outlook.

Don’t frustrate by having them chase obscure links

Trust and confidence is what every email marketer wants to build into their relationship with their entire customer base at large, and a preference center is an excellent tool in that arsenal. It is critical that the preference center be easy to locate from just about any touchpoint in your email subscribing customer’s experience with your brand. When you provide prominent links to your preference center across your email presences and missives, you ensure that they don’t have to get frustrated by chasing down obtuse and obscure links.

When your customer arrives at the preference center, you have to focus on the task at hand which is serving the needs of the subscriber, not to squeeze them for a massive amount of personal information. When you ask far too many questions in your preference center, you are maximizing the chances that your subscriber is going to bail out long before they even complete the form. You should never ever ever have a preference center form which exceeds one relatively short page. If you are absolutely adamant about collecting a much greater amount of personal data, then launch contests, sweepstakes, or other online incentives which will have as a prerequisite for entry the provision of that specific data you seek. Don’t pile it into the preference center!