Trendline Interactive – Ditch Your Preference Center and Focus on Behavior Of Your Subscriber
By: Trendline Interactive
In mid-December, I ended a 3 week road trip by taking part in the opening panel at the Email Insider Summit in Park City, UT. The panel was titled “25 Ideas in 25 Minutes” and while my fellow panelists and I were unable to get through all of our ideas, there was one idea that I mentioned which caused quite a bit of chatter both on Twitter and in the hallways after the session. This controversial idea was for brands to ditch their preference centers and focus on behavior of the subscriber for better targeting. I said that preference centers are hard to maintain and in many cases, irrelevant, because brands either don’t use the data collected in them or subscribers rarely go back to update their preferences as their relationship with the brand matures and evolves. As I continue to work with clients and understand the challenges that they face, I am more inclined to recommend to organizations that they invest their marketing dollars into tools that can track and record subscriber and customer behavior which can lead to better targeted email campaigns. Traditional preference centers are static and rarely can record on an ongoing basis the amount of valuable data needed for email marketing programs to evolve and optimize to the subscribers’ individual preferences.
As with any conference, there were opponents to my idea in person, on twitter and in fact in emails directly sent to me. While I respect and, in fact, relish opposition, there were a few people who took what I proposed out of context. First and foremost, I am not indicating preference centers are dead. There are organizations who leverage preference center data to target and optimize their email programs exceptionally well. There are organizations who have spent $800,000+ building out global preference centers which in fact are a model for how a traditional preference center should operate. Preference centers will never be dead, but they are certainly starting to run their course unless organizations allocate a significant amount of resources and money, building out update reminders that will have to be messaged to the subscriber on an ongoing basis in order for it to be useful. In addition, maintenance alone on a robust preference center with stagnant and often outdated preferences which is never leveraged can be a tremendous cost burden.
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