Giving Email Subscribers Options with a Preference Center

People love having choices. As an email marketer, one of the simplest ways you can keep your subscribers happy is to give them options about the emails they get from you. This is helpful for you, too – when your subscribers can adjust the frequency and content of the emails they receive, they’re more likely to stay engaged with your business and less likely to hit the unsubscribe button. To achieve this win-win situation, you need an email preference center.

Why Having an Email Preference Center Matters

Email contacts don’t last forever. Sometimes people fall off your email list because they change jobs or abandon an old email address. This type of list churn is hard to prevent. Sometimes, though, the situation is more personal – a subscriber scrolls to the bottom of an email and clicks the unsubscribe link. Ouch. So why does this happen?

There are a number of reasons why people might want to opt out of receiving your emails. Here are some of the most common, according to Hubspot.

The top reasons people unsubscribe from email lists, according to HubSpot. Source

The number-one reason people unsubscribe is that they’re getting too many emails from one sender. Boring or irrelevant emails and inbox clutter are also common unsubscribe triggers. Basically, if your emails aren’t useful, interesting, and well-timed, you’re not likely to stay in a subscriber’s good graces for very long.

Fixing all of these problems doesn’t have to involve a lot of guesswork or A/B testing. The solution is much easier than that: just set up an email preference center. A preference center lets your subscribers segment themselves based on how frequently they want to hear from you and what kind of emails they’re interested in. You won’t have to worry about emailing too often or sending irrelevant updates. You can even include fields for people to update their contact information, which makes it more likely that your subscribers will stick with you through job changes, name changes, and new email addresses.

Which Options Should You Include in Your Preference Center?

The specifics of your email preference center will depend on your business itself. For instance, a clothing brand and a tech startup probably won’t send the same types of emails, so they’ll need to offer different options in terms of email preferences. No matter what kind of business you have, though, here are some general tips for your preference center.

The most important choice you can give your subscribers is the frequency of your emails. A subscriber who’s a huge fan of your brand might be happy to hear from you every day. A different subscriber might be annoyed at daily updates, but be perfectly happy to get your emails twice a month. Consider including the following choices in your preference center:

  • Specific options for email frequency. Offer a variety of choices – such as twice a week, once a week, and once a month – based on how many emails you send out on a regular basis.
  • Which days of the week your subscribers want to hear from you. Some people might not check their email all weekend, for example, while others might not be able to read your emails during busy weekdays.
  • An option to stop receiving emails for a set period of time without unsubscribing. Email fatigue is real, and giving people the option to take a break for a few months can help prevent unsubscribes.

If you send out a lot of emails on a variety of topics, it’s also a good practice to let your subscribers customize which content they receive from you. Create a list of email categories on your preferences page, so that your subscribers can select the ones they’re interested in and remove themselves from the ones they find irrelevant or boring.

Take a page out of Kayak’s book by letting subscribers choose which types of emails they want to receive.

How detailed should the options in your preference center be? That depends on your email habits. If you send large volumes of email, offer more frequency options and content categories to choose from. If you don’t email your subscribers very often, it might make more sense to offer just a few options.

Avoid making your email preferences page more complicated than you have to, even if you’re including a lot of options. It should be simple and intuitive to navigate and use. Keep all your options on one page, and avoid hiding content in tabs or accordions. If your subscribers can’t figure out how to change something in the preference center, they might unsubscribe or start sending your emails to their spam folder.

How to Help Subscribers Utilize Your Preference Center

For your preference center to help your audience (and you), people need to be able to find and use it. Here’s how you can help them do that.

Start by asking new subscribers about their preferences right away. This does a couple of things: it ensures that new contacts get segmented correctly right off the bat, and it shows your subscribers that you care about their experience with your brand.

You can ask new subscribers about their email preferences right when they sign up for your list. Create an opt-in form that gathers extra information besides email addresses, such as which types of emails a person wants to receive from you. You can also use a double opt-in system. When the subscriber clicks the link in your opt-in email, take them to your preference center, so they can review and adjust all their email settings right away.

Make it easy for people to find your preference center by linking to it in your emails. Put your email settings link next to your unsubscribe link in the footer of your email. This will make it obvious to your readers that they can adjust their settings without unsubscribing from your list completely.

Kayak includes a link to their email preference center beside the unsubscribe link in the footer of their emails.

Keep an eye on your email list, and when you notice that a subscriber hasn’t been active for a while, prompt them to adjust their email preferences. Send a friendly email with a link to your preference center, and let them know they can choose how often to hear from you. Often, this is enough to re-engage subscribers who were previously losing interest in your emails.

Make your preference center easy to use. Keep in mind that many people check and manage email on their phone, so your preference center should be easy to view on mobile. The copy on the page should be brief, but friendly – if you come across as personable, people will be less likely to unsubscribe from your emails.

Wrapping Up

If you want to keep your subscribers happy and lessen your own email marketing workload, set up an email preference center. When your subscribers can adjust their own settings, they’ll receive only the emails they’re actually interested in, and you’ll see fewer unsubscribes and less list churn. In short, having an email preference center benefits both you and your subscribers – and mutual benefit is something every good customer relationship depends on.