Preference Centers 101: Customer Marketing Solutions

A major part of building relationships with your customers, is setting the tone for interactions with the communications tools you implement within your organization. While it may seem basic to consider allowing your customers to select the desired frequency, content and communications they receive; it is in fact, an area that is often overlooked and has potentially high impact on the perception your customers hold of your brand. The resonance and tone a preference center can help you set with your customers can be enormous when you understand what they are and how they can lead to retention of your valued customers. So let’s take a look.

What is a preference center?

Preference centers are a valuable tool in the belt of a digital, cross-channel marketer. Simply put, your preference center is the place in which your customers have the ability to select and adjust how often and in what ways they’d like to hear from you. Your preference center is a digital communications hub – giving you the ability to manage your customers’ preferences across email, SMS and other channels.

The most important benefit of a preference center is the control that it grants your customer. It’s been found that 66% of customers are more likely to engage with a company that allows them to select email preferences. Not only do they get the opportunity to pick and choose the frequency and types of communication they receive, you get the chance to provide content that is more targeted, more relevant and more timely.

What are the different types of preference centers?
Basic: A basic preference center, based on a list-model, simply allows customers to select whether or not they want to receive communications from you. In addition, this model will allow you to have some control over attribute creation, filtering and data management. With a new instance of Marketing Cloud, you get access to this simple out-of-the-box preference center that will give your customers some flexibility in their experience. If you prefer simplicity over performance, don’t require fast import speed, have a limited number of subscriber attributes or have a subscriber base under 500,000 over the long-term, this may be the best option for you to consider.

Standard Plus: If you need a little more flexibility than the out-of-the-box option, but aren’t quite ready for a custom solution, Lev has a bridge offer we call a ‘Standard Plus Preference Center’. Going beyond the the list-model approach to incorporate some customization, this option allows your customers to experience the benefits of a custom preference center using preferred subscriber data, but keeps your organization out of the heavy lifting when it comes to relational data needs.

Custom: A customized center allows marketers to personalize the page and brand it to look and feel similar to your company website and brand. With a data extension-based model, a custom preference center can support subscriber data and relational data. A customized center also allows for a higher subscriber base, supports multiple data sets, can send globally, send faster, send based on triggers and allows for data retrieval outside of the database of record, offering a flexible solution to your organizational needs.

How should you be thinking about your preference center?

When building and customizing your preference center, there are a couple questions you should take into consideration.

  • Are you giving the customer plenty of control over the personal data they share, the frequency of communication they receive and the channel in which they receive communication?
  • Have you given customers the option to share more than one point of contact, such as multiple email addresses or a phone number to receive SMS messages?
  • Are you highlighting the value proposition of your marketing programs and setting clear expectations on the frequency in which a customer would receive it?
  • Does your preference center feel like an extension of your website? Is it easily navigable and mobile-friendly?
  • Would you gain benefit from collecting your subscribers’ social media handles?

What are the benefits of a well-developed custom preference center?

Having a well-executed and highly-strategic custom preference center can level up the ways in which you maintain touch points with your customers.

By keeping your marketing database in one place, rather than scattering it across multiple publication lists, you can gain a broader view of your customers’ subscription preferences and unique interests, thus creating opportunities for more targeted and relevant messages that will increase engagement and build credibility for your brand. Additionally, by providing your customers with customized opt-in and out opportunities, you will reduce the number of company-wide unsubscribes that may plague those leveraging an out-of-the-box or standard plus models.

A well-built preference center also builds your trust as a responsible company, who cares about it’s customers. By creating a permissions-based relationship, you’re showing respect for your email subscribers and enabling two-way communication between you and your audiences. Your customers want control over the communications they receive from your company. A custom preference center can give them this option, while also allowing you to learn more about their likes, dislikes, interests, products and services of your organization.

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