Even in the age of social media, email marketing is king. Forrester reports that potential clients are two times more likely to sign up for your company’s email list than they are to interact with you on a platform such as Facebook. Once they sign up for your email list, the returns are significant. Businesses make an average return of $38 for every dollar they spend on email marketing campaigns.
Many companies need no convincing and have already jumped into the email marketing waters headfirst. Once the eye-catching campaigns and clever calls to action are crafted, however, one integral question remains – how often? How frequently should you email clients and potential clients in order to effectively keep them in the loop without annoying them and sending them scrambling for the “Unsubscribe” link?
There is no hard-and-fast answer to this eternal email conundrum. While weekly emails may make some customers feel as though you’re blowing up their inbox, others may read through all of your offerings with interest.
Because there’s no way to know if a prospective client is being turned off by your constant campaigning until they get frustrated and unsubscribe, the best thing to do is put the power in the hands of your clients. You can do this by using a preference center.
How Does a Preference Center Work?
When you unsubscribe from some emails, the decision is instant and permanent. “We’re sorry to see you go! You’ll no longer receive any of our emails.”
With a preference center, your company’s audience can decide what email schedule works best for them. They can select how often they’d like to receive communication from your business and even what topics or types of emails interest them most.
You don’t have to wait until a prospect is ready to call it quits from your email program, however. It’s also helpful to use a preference center when a customer signs up for your email list or purchases from your website. That way, they can control the amount of communication from the very beginning and avoid any potential frustration down the road.
Bringing Potential Customers a Little Closer
The benefits of preference centers go beyond avoiding lost email subscribers. They improve your customers’ total experience with your business. By asking your audience how often they’d like to be contacted and what topics they’d be interested in hearing about, you put them in control of the information they receive – a rare gift in this noisy world where we’re constantly getting slammed with an overwhelming amount of data.
They also encourage your audience to engage with your website and your company. When a potential client feels respected, they’re more likely to interact and do business with you in the future. By the same token, allowing prospects who are no longer interested the ability to unsubscribe and walk away will enhance your company’s overall reputation. (It will also prevent your messages from being flagged as spam.) Make certain you use a reputable email service provider that includes an opt-out feature to make it easy for your contacts to unsubscribe.
Utilizing Preference Centers for Audience Feedback
Preference centers also provide you with a valuable opportunity to hear directly from your prospective clients. If they choose to unsubscribe, it gives them a chance to tell you why.
More importantly, for the ones that stay, giving them the option of signing up for specific types of communications tells you what they’re interested in seeing most. If you’re receiving very few signups for your newsletters, but a large portion of your audience wants to know about new services or products, your email marketing content may need to be retooled to reflect or emphasize topics that will generate the most engagement.
How to Perfect Your Preference Center
The most important tip on designing a preference center is ease of use. When linking to a preference center via an email campaign, it’s important that you do not make recipients jump through hoops in order to make their preferences known. Don’t password-protect the preference center or require users to enter their email address when they arrive there. Also avoid making visitors click through page after page in order to complete the process.
Finally, follow through on all requests. If an email recipient wants to unsubscribe, don’t continue to email them. They still may return in the future, and isn’t the entire point of an email campaign to reach out to prospects who truly are interested in your services?
With no set rules about how much email is too much, let your audience decide. It shows great customer service from the start and as a bonus, you’ll get to learn a little bit more about them, too.