Is The Preference Centre Dead?

I was a big fan of the preference centre. It allows you to collect meaningful data that can be used for segmentation to improve the relevancy of your email messages.

However it has always had limitations:

Only small data set
Only 15% – 20% of subscribers on average completed a preference centre; therefore the data available for segmentation is low.

If done incorrectly, it becomes a barrier to signup
When the preference centre is located at the first stages of signup, before email address is inputted, it becomes a barrier to subscription. Users may therefore not signup because they don’t want to complete the preference centre

It takes time to get significant data numbers for segmentation
From setup to get significant numbers there is a time lapse that is not ideal.

With the increase in available web analytics data and the concept of live email content (shameless plug) is it now time to forget the preference centre as a worthwhile email marketing strategy?

Let’s investigate further:

Web analytics Vs. preference data

Using web analytics data for targeting always beats preference centre data in terms of engagement and conversion.

Why?

Web Analytics data signals actual behaviour of customers. Not implied behaviour based on user-selected preferences. Preference data also can ‘go stale’ as someone will change preferences over time, whereas web analytics data is timely as you take the data from the last 2 or 4 weeks.

For example: Understanding that a group of customers have viewed women’s shoes in the last two weeks is more relevant and timely than all customers that have selected women’s shoes in the preference centre.

Also, there is more data. You can collect data and target customers that have not necessarily completed the preference centre.

Customer’s behaviour changes and web analytics reporting reflects this; however preference data never changes. Only very small numbers will actually update their preference data.

Live email content Vs. preference data

Live email is where content is updated in the inbox based on customer’s device, location, timing, behaviour, social stream and even latest sporting score. This is a relatively new concept we have developed here at Kickdynamic, as has Movable Ink.

Live email content can be applied to all email recipients – with some exceptions where we can’t read certain factors associated with an open.

As with web analytics live content is more timely and relevant because it is updated based what is happening now – not old pre-selected data.

It allows you to change content when customers are on the move. Content updates depending if a customer reads email on their computer or on a mobile. Content also updates depending on what country and city email is opened.

Live email content has seen CTR increases of 30% and conversion increases of 10% for online website builder.

Therefore is the preference centre dead?

We think so – what do you think?