The power of preference centers

Modern-day marketers are having to navigate a data-driven world with a close eye and tight grip on their customers’ data. Since the implementation of GDPR on 25 May 2018, companies, are working harder to get information from customers. Control is firmly in the hands of the shopper. As a result, preference centers are now the secret tool for unbeatable customer engagement.

Earlier this year it was revealed by the DMA that new subscribers are willing to hand over their data in exchange for personal experiences. Savvy-shoppers know that brands have the tools to create something really special. Preference centers simply give brands the opportunity to hear what they want, directly from the consumer.

What makes a good preference center?

Like a one-to-one with thousands of subscribers, a good preference center shows that you’re a brand that cares about customers’ experience. You want to get to know as much about them as possible to ensure their experience is memorable.

Giving control to subscribers is the fastest, most efficient way to increase satisfaction and decrease unsubscribes. You’ll quickly discover what they want, so you can easily tailor your marketing efforts to meet their needs. The more you meet their needs, the more likely they are to convert. And the more they convert, the more they spend.

A preference center should allow subscribers to:

  • Pick newsletters or topics they’d like to see in their inboxes, e.g. daily briefing, weekly travel updates, monthly product releases
  • Inform brands about areas of interest including products and departments, e.g. shoes and knitwear
  • Decide the channel they prefer to hear from brands on, e.g. email, SMS, or WhatsApp

A smart preference center is a massive data-gathering tool. So, while you’re letting customers tailor their experience, don’t forget to collect the data you need to create personalized email perfection.

Making preference centers work hard for you

While customers are crafting their perfect journey, you’ll be learning a lot about them. But there’s always something more you could know. You’re building a two-way relationship with shoppers, and as a result, they’re happy to give you extra tidbits of information.

It all helps them receive a better experience, so consider the extra data you could be gathering:

  • First name, last name, and date of birth
  • Address or zip code
  • A favorite product or service/wishlist builder
  • Important dates, e.g. anniversaries, birthdays
  • How they discovered your brand
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Favorite bricks-and-mortar stores or how frequently they visit one

The possibilities are endless, but it’s vital you’re clear and honest about why you’re collecting this data. If you put it to work improving their experience, they’ll happily hand it over

Epic examples of perfect preference centers

Preference centers can be shown to shoppers in a number of different ways. Whether you decide to collect this information with newsletter sign-up, during the welcome email or as part of their account set-up, these examples should be enough to get you thinking creatively about your data capture.

Science in sport

Science in sport sign-up

Sports nutrition brand, Science in Sport, starts its preference collection simply. Using a sign-up incentive, it makes it clear that shoppers will benefit right from the beginning of this relationship. The brand also uses the opportunity to gather its first preference from customers.

By asking “What is your preferred sport?”, the brand is able to use this information to send products specifically associated with running, cycling, or triathlons.

You don’t always need to collect every piece of information immediately. By gradually collecting customer information in the same way as Science in Sport, you don’t risk overwhelming your audience, and potentially ruining their experience.


Spotify, on the other hand, allows customers to control the content they receive on an account level.

Spotify preference

Once an account has successfully been created, customers are able to choose what they hear about. For each topic, listeners can also choose whether these communications come in the form of an email or a push notification.

By diversifying its marketing channels, Spotify is increasing its chances of successful engaging customers.


To ensure customers don’t miss their chance to build customer experience, MATCHESFASHION uses its welcome program to push preferences to be submitted.

MATCHESFASHION preference center

This preference center not only outlines what each newsletter covers but also states the day that it’ll land in customers’ inboxes. This helps build anticipation for the latest announcements and product launches. It also gives shoppers the opportunity to follow their favorite fashion designers. This information can then be used to deliver personalized edits every Monday and Friday as part of the ‘WOMENSWEAR JUST IN’ subscription.

MATCHESFASHION also goes on to confirm whether customers would be interested in receiving marketing via phone and post, as well as membership to its loyalty program.

The overall result: endless opportunities for shoppers to personalize their experience.

J. Crew

J. Crew Unsubscribe

Don’t miss a single chance to let customers tell you what they want.

J. Crew doesn’t. In fact, when customers click ‘unsubscribe’ in email, J. Crew gives shoppers a final opportunity to tailor its communications. This offers a chance to save the relationship. Customers can either choose to adjust the frequency of their emails or specify the products they would rather hear about.

It’s what you do with the data that counts

The secret to successful marketing is all about the quality of the data you have.

The better the data you have, the better the experience you can build with your customers. By creating intelligent, personalized journeys for customers and putting the customer first, you’re creating an engaged fanbase, dedicated to your brand.

A powerful preference center gives you all the information you need to deliver the right message to the right customer, at the right time and on the right channel for them. To discover more about how Engagement Cloud is empowering brands to use customer data, don’t miss our very own Gavin Laugenie speaking at Magento Live later this month.

Keep reading

Intu Preference case study
Tips to generate engagement
Online engagement blog

Marketing analytics 2.0 – dashboards meet workflows

There is good reason to be optimistic though. We’ve been working away on developing ways in which we can bring analytics and actionable insight into your everyday workflows.  Why am I talking about workflows? Well, all dashboards…

A successful return to live UK events

In March 2020, we – like many other businesses – made the transition from live to virtual events. Committed to providing valuable educational content to our clients, we adapted. We never stopped engaging with you, starting interesting…

Behavioral campaign ideas you can use

We’re coming to the end of our deep dive on using neuroscience and the purchase formula in your campaigns. We’ve discussed why the purchase formula is so important, and why increasing reward activation in the brain is…