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Updating your preference center

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Unless your product or service changes often, it's likely that your email preference center hasn't been modified in a while. But email marketing is constantly evolving, and your preference center should be, too. Below, Greg Fox, VP-systems integration at digital marketing solutions provider iPost Inc., explains how things have changed and how marketers should be adjusting their email preference center design and implementation strategies. The old way: Focus only on email marketing.
The new way: Use your preference center to embrace mobile, social and other customer marketing channels. “In general, the biggest trend in preference centers is an ongoing effort to integrate various channels, especially for b-to-b,” Fox said. “To have things like your CRM system integrated with the preference center and be able to see the lifetime value of a customer provides you with a potentially lucrative strategy.” Once everything is integrated, you can also perform what iPost calls “bounce recapture.” Salespeople and customer service representatives can immediately see which emails are bouncing and reach out to those customers to update their records. The preference center should also have options to include Twitter handles, Facebook email addresses, Pinterest accounts and mobile numbers, as long as your company is actually using this information. “Never collect data that you're not actively using,” Fox said. The old way: Create an online landing page.
The new way: Have two preference center offerings—one for use on desktops or laptops and one designed specifically for mobile devices. Assess how your preference center looks on a mobile device or a tablet: Is it easy to make selections? Are buttons big enough for a smaller screen or will they cause frustration? How simple is it to move from field to field? Every marketer should consider this and, if applicable, create a mobile preference center for their email marketing efforts. The old way: Offering a single opt-out option.
The new way: Letting people “opt down” instead of out. Some customers may want to hear from you about a specific topic or product, while others may want to hear from you only about sales, or specials or your most popular content. Let them choose exactly what they want to receive, how often and in what format, Fox said. “There's a trend away from the monolithic preference center,” he said. “Instead, subscribers should be guided to make choices based on behavioral events. It's less about frequency and more about getting the customer the exact content that is going to please them and doing so in an efficient manner.”
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