If you’ve read much on our FulcrumTech site, you undoubtedly know that we are constantly talking about the importance of knowing your audience. Knowing your subscribers and then consistently sending relevant content is your key to driving your open rates, click-through rates, and conversions to higher levels. Using an email preference center is part of the key to knowing your audience because this is where they can tell you a little more about themselves. Then, you can use that information to improve your segmentation and content relevance to your subscribers. The better you get, the better your return.
What’s a preference center?
A preference center is where your email subscribers can go to add or update important information about themselves, such as their email address, name, desired email frequency, and anything that may help you tailor your emails to them. Other important preferences can include preferred mobile devices or social media preferences. Fred Tabsharani mentions an interesting comment in his article The Preference Center, Mission Control for Your Subscribers: “…subscribers may prefer to utilize Twitter for customer service inquiries, while other subscribers may choose to receive more ‘entertaining’ messaging via Facebook.”
Getting users to visit the preference center
So, you’re probably wondering how you can actually get a busy subscriber to enter information in your preference center. There are numerous ways, but here are few quick ideas:
- Opt-in — Your optin form needs to be as short as possible to encourage the maximum signups, but your optin form begins the relationship and is where your users are given the reasons for signing up. When they offer their email address and first name, for example, they’ve given you the first set of information for initiating a relationship. After signup, you have to give good reason to provide more.
- Welcome email — This is one of the best places to request a little more information. They’ve just signed up, and they will likely feel good about what they hope to learn or receive from you. Combine that with the fact that the welcome email is one of the most read emails of all emails! So, gently ask them to share a little more information, and try making a personal request — “Hi Sandy, thanks so much for signing up. Would you please share your single biggest challenge in [fill in the blank]? We really appreciate your feedback and look forward to helping out however possible…” You get the idea. People will respond to that plea because it’s clear that you’re going to help them.
- Ongoing emails — As you send out emails, make it easy for subscribers to update their name (e.g. when someone gets married), their email address, email frequency, or anything else that they’ve provided along the way. Put a link in the footer, thus making it easy to always find and click.
- Periodic information requests — If you sell pet supplies, for example, and you have a bunch of information on cat supplies and other information on dog supplies, put a simple link right up top: “Are you a dog owner, a cat owner, or both? Get an instant coupon for clicking below, and you’ll get more relevant information and promotions based on your preference.”
- Dog owner
- Cat owner
- Dog and cat owner
Some e-mail systems will let you record the click right into the attributes of the subscriber.
- Surveys — Run sweepstakes or other incentives to get subscribers to provide additional information about the preferences that can help you deliver more relevant content and offers. It’s best if you run such a survey surrounding a topic you are writing about, so it’s clear why you may be asking. In effect, with each additional bit of information, you’re deepening your relationship with your subscribers. The more comfortable they get with you, the more willing they’ll be to provide you with a little more information about themselves.