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Enabling customers to drive the pace of email

E-mail is the default means of communication on the Internet. It can reach new customers through lead-gen campaigns and rejuvenate old customers with new ideas about their respective industries. But the long-standing question for most shippers is: How much email is too much email?

There is a simple answer to this complex question: just ask your audience. The best way to ask your audience is with the humble preference center.

Preference centers are powerful tools that can be used to adapt both the content and the pace of e-mails. It also provides marketers with the information they need to better understand what customers are expecting from a given organization. A good preference center aims to give readers enough relevant information without overwhelming them with irrelevant promotions.

These centers can also help email marketers better segment their lists and receive feedback from interested parties, providing more accurate information to marketers and advertisers who are more relevant to receptive audiences.

Highly relevant content in inboxes – as long as anything that is sent is not a nuisance – enhances the brand's rigidity and the overall relevancy of messaging. With a preference center, consumers are empowered to adjust the frequency, type and rate of email to their particular needs.

Transforming Centers of Preferences into Opportunities

For inventive brands, preference centers can be a great marketing opportunity. All it takes is a direct message coupled with an image and an invitation to your readers to make their own decisions.

For example, National Geographic enthusiasts can see a comforting image of two zebras with a big subject line like " Tell Us Your Preferences, Like Your Inbox Again " to encourage readers to adjust their email preferences. Customers who click on the category "update your centers of interest" are redirected to a preference center that details the types of emails that they can receive and the option to unsubscribe from all National Geographic communications.

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This useful page has multiple purposes:

  1. Customers feel empowered to minimize noise in their inbox.
  2. The e-mail that brought them to this page strengthens the engagement in the inbox, which enhances National Geographic's overall broadcast reputation and ability to reach the # 39, user in the inbox.
  3. By giving potentially disengaged users the opportunity to unsubscribe from future mailings, National Geographic protects its reputation by preventing messages from being marked as spam.

This powerful approach applies to all types of audiences, including business to business. Take, for example, Litmus, the creator of creative tools to help marketers design better emails. (Disclosure: Litmus is a partner of my employer.) Litmus took the extra initiative of making its email an opt-in campaign. Customers who do not click the green button saying they want to continue to receive marketing emails are unsubscribed.

This is a good and necessary measure of compliance with the regulations on the protection of privacy outside the United States. But it is also a movement that emphasizes Litmus' understanding of their audience and how too much email can become more noise than signal.

The same can be said of Bonobos, who uses humor in his preference center.

Preference centers are the new norm – if today's consumers have the ability to determine the channel in which the conversion will occur, marketers should give them the opportunity to determine how often the brand will contact them.

Deafness to consumer preferences will cause your reputation to suffer unnecessarily, and the degradation of emails being reported as spam, even your biggest fans may not see you in the inbox.

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The humor and relevance come in all shapes and sizes. Room and Board uses the concept of space to emphasize the absence or lack of engagement with their emails.

Construction of a Powerful Preference Center

Some things to consider when building your preference center:

  • Do not password protect the page – You will lose clients when connecting.
  • Do not ask the client's e-mail address – You should be able to convey this information via URL redirection.
  • Do not make it a multi-page process – One page will suffice. The idea is to make it simple to use.
  • Use humor if this suits your audience.
  • Do not be afraid of unsubscription – If customers choose to leave, they can always come back. If they mark your email as spam, this action has a much longer reverberation and is more deeply felt throughout your email program.
  • Make Sure to Have the Ways to Honor Preference Centers – It's not enough to provide one; If someone only wants to hear your brand once a week, do not send them three to five emails in a single day.
  • Consider knocking out uncommitted customers from your lists – If they do not answer, and do not do it for a long time, then do not assume it's as if nothing was wrong.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. The authors of the staff are listed here.