Like many of us do, I have subscribed to receive periodical newsletters from thought leaders in my field. I recently received a commercial email from one of them, one of the largest research agency, and found content irrelevant to my work. I decided to self-service the kind of emails that I want to receive from and clicked on “Manage subscriptions”. Could never have expected what came up:
1. List A
2. List A1
3. List A2
4. List A3 Temp
7. September List
It’s not hard to figure out what I did next!
I write this article to help fellow marketers understand why subscription management is important, and the positive implication of having a well thought through execution and feedback process.
ALIGN CONTENT TO BUYER PERSONA
You can no longer acquire new clients by simply reassuring them that your product or service is the best on the market. As Seth Godin says in This is Marketing, most offerings today meet a reasonably high bar of quality – the new minimum. Additionally, consumers find a trove of information online, including characteristics, reviews, ratings, prices, and competing offerings. And often decisions are already made before a customer contacts the seller. It is critical that content marketers need to create content and deliver that information that their prospects before they make decisions. Mis-managing hard earned permission to market (which is what subscriptions are) is just not acceptable.
You will rarely be publishing content to only a single audience. Most businesses and organizations have several groups of customer types or in other words personas, each of which are interested in different kinds of content. Though it’s likely that the focus of your content strategy will be developing new business, the messaging will be different to each buyer persona. When I got a mail that was not relevant to me and I wanted to fine tune by subscriptions, I was actually telling that research firm, far more specific (and valuable) information of who I was to them. A well-designed subscription list and a great user experience is essential for me to feel that my time is valued, and for the marketer to know me better.
YOUR PREFERENCE CENTER
As we continue to grow our list of contacts, we want to encourage subscribers to keep their preferences up to date – including their email address, desired frequency of emails, etc.
An email preference centre typically collects information during the email registration process. It’s a place where our subscribers can add or update information about themselves and their email preferences. By giving your subscribers choices and control over what information and how much email they receive from you, preference centres can have a powerful impact on the success of your company’s ongoing email campaigns.
As you set out to design your preference center, start by determining what do you want to accomplish. Do you want to find out the frequency and type of content subscribers are looking for? Do you want information to help you segment your email lists by geographic location, areas of interest, even change in preferences?
A simple preference centre, for example, typically includes:
UPDATE CONTACT EMAIL ADDRESS – There are many circumstances that can change in a subscriber’s life, such as switching jobs. Giving subscribers a chance to quickly and easily alter their contact information will help avoid losing them entirely.
PUBLICATION LIST – Finalize a list of publications that are most apt for your buyer persona. You also want to make sure that the Title/description of the publication is explicit so that they know what they are signing up for (unlike the list shown in the example at the beginning). Consider giving subscribers the opportunity to choose/reduce the publications they want to receive and the frequency of content they would like to get. Some choices could be Quarterly/Monthly or weekly or even human friendly choices like “less frequently”.
OPTING-OUT – The opt-out option is a mandatory requirement for compliance with CAN-SPAM and European data protection regulations, but you don’t want them to opt-out. If your subscribers see simple and easy choices – say to reduce the frequency of emails – they tend to use these options instead of opting out completely.
Additionally, a well-designed preference center would also give subscribers reasons to provide valuable personal data like name, gender, address, company, phone numbers and social media contacts.
As you set up a preference center – or review your current one – consider the following questions in determining just how effective it is:
Asking too many questions in a preference center can result in subscribers abandoning the form before even completing it. A good rule of thumb is to keep your preference center form to very critical information that you absolutely need. If you want to capture more information about your subscribers, consider creating additional preference centres for subscribers during subsequent visits and make it optional or show them clear benefits of providing additional information.
Is it easy for subscribers to find the preference center? Include prominent links for your preference center in all your emails.
Do you ensure that design of emails and the preference center experience keeps both your mobile subscribers and desktop users in mind? Be sure to provide a responsive design for the preference center, for your users to read your emails and to visit your website.
Preference centres provide a great way to collect the important information you need to create relevant messages that ultimately keep your subscribers actively engaged. They also let your subscribers easily update their contact information and preferences.
Do you have an effective preference centre program and a content calendar? Have you updated it recently? Feel free to write to us and we’ll help design and configure your preference centre to optimize your email marketing results – get the shiny and sharp teeth your marketing campaign needs!