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5 Mottos from Mom about Preference Centers

Q: Do I really need an email preference center?

A: Go ask your mother.

When asked about preference centers, my response brings me back to some childhood teachings from my parents:

  • Just because everyone has one, doesn’t mean you should, too.
  • Don’t save it. Use it. (unless we were talking about money)
  • Treat others like you’d want to be treated.
  • You’re more likely to get a ‘yes’ if you ask nicely. (unless we were talking about money)
  • Be careful what you ask for.

Let’s explore more:

Motto #1 – Just because everybody has one, doesn’t mean you should, too. Corollary: If your friends jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, are you going to jump, too?

You need a preference center for email subscription preferences if you do any type of email marketing. About 20% of internet users unsubscribe because they receive too many emails from one company. Opt-downs are a good option for a customer who wants to stay connected but cull their inbox.

However, before collecting preference data beyond email subscription preferences make sure you know how you’ll use the data. If you can’t figure that out, you might not need a preference center.

Motto #2 – Don’t save it. Use it.

Retailers do customers a disservice by asking a ton of questions, hoarding data, and then doing nothing with it. How many times have customers told a retailer their gender (or purchased women’s apparel), only for their next email to be about a men’s sale? Not all brands are listening, and people are preference-centered-out. Retailers need to rebuild trust, and put that valuable information they receive to good use. If you do ask for preference data, make sure you use it, and use it now.

Motto #3 – Treat others like you’d want to be treated.

Customers want to be treated as individuals. We all do. Use preferences to do just that by personalizing and engaging in a relevant way based on what your customers tell you.

Customers also want clarity and transparency. In fact, 54% of internet users will only share data if they are told how the company will use it. Be clear in your ask; let customers know why you are asking and how the information will be used — and not used. Make your privacy policy accessible and easy to understand, and abide by it.

Motto #4 – You’re more likely to get a ‘yes’ if you ask nicely.

Retailers subject their customers to a dizzying array of asks, so be considerate and ask for only what you need. And unless you have a strong “give to get” program, don’t make anything mandatory.

Consider a targeted campaign to drive responses, but only if it’s tactful and relevant. Studies show that 21% of internet users will offer information for something in return. Give points for a reward program, offer a one-time free shipping code, or provide early access to an insider-only item or sale.

Motto #5 – Be careful what you ask for.

For example, a home décor company asked me my favorite color. It’s blue. But my décor is far from blue (creams, earth tones, if you must know.) Ask me about my design color palette, not my favorite color. Be careful what and how you ask.

Use preference data as the start of a customer profile or as a proxy for behavioral insights, but combine preference center data with browsing and purchase behavior over time to get a truly full view of what your customer really wants.

In summary, a little planning goes a long way. Proceed with caution. Try your best to do what’s right. Think independently – in this case, take advantage of every opportunity to keep that customer relationship alive and well.