Critical Considerations for a Custom Preference Center

Critical Considerations for a Custom Preference Center

Customers want to be in charge of their choices and there is no exception when it comes to how and what types of communications they want to receive from businesses they buy from. Generally, a simple email subscription center with a short list of options would suffice as it allows your customers to manage their preferences in one central location. But companies are moving away from this simple approach and moving towards robust, personalized experiences for subscribers to manage their preferences.

So, what’s the difference between “simple” and “robust”? Good question. I have answers!

Out of the Eloqua box, comes the default subscription center that will look like some variation of this.


You’ve got a logo, some text instruction text, a handful of subscription categories to subscribe to or unsubscribe from, and lastly an option to unsubscribe from all communications. Simple. Easy. Does the job. The best part of using Eloqua’s default subscription management option is that it will automatically update a contact’s record with their preferences, which makes it very easy on the marketer to email only those that have indicated they want to hear from you. But, there are limitations to any default including this one. Thus why marketing organizations are creating custom preference centers that are end-user focused.

Here are a few examples of custom preference centers that Relationship One has developed for our customers.




The Advisory Board Company:



Dodge Data & Analytics:


Feeling inspired? In order to create a successful custom email preference center, you should carefully manage these three components: logistics, technology and user experience.

First, logistics. It may seem obvious but as a consultant I’ve seen it too many times; ensure that your organization has processes in place to develop quality content at the frequency that you’re offering. It doesn’t make sense to offer someone the option to hear about a subject that your company probably should be writing about but isn’t currently. On the same token, if your limited on resources, you may need to make some adjustments on priorities before you provide your subscribers with a weekly or daily email frequency option that you can’t fulfill.

Second, the underlying technology supporting the custom preference center should be able to manage the data obtained from the subscriber. Properly storing subscription data will enable you to actually fulfill on their preferences and provide you with insightful information on the type of content your subscribers want and don’t want. Will you store the data on the contact’s record? In a custom object? Using email groups? It’s important to understand the architecture of how the data will be stored and acted upon when building out your preference center.

Third, despite all the bells and whistles you can use to create a preference center, a good user experience is most crucial. Some considerations include:

  1. Communication Methods: What are the ways in which a customer can hear from you? Can they have a choice to be emailed, texted, mailed, called, etc.? If I can choose how I’d like you to reach me, it’s likely I’ll be reading what you send me.
  2. Language Preferences: Will you provide the option for a language preference? This assumes you have the capability to translate the content you are sending.
  3. Subscriber Types: Are there categories or types of communications that are only relevant to prospects vs. all customers vs. a specific product customer vs. career candidates vs. media, etc.? It may make sense to dynamically change one’s options based on self-identifying their role relative to your organization.
  4. Communication Frequency: Will you provide the option to designate how often a subscriber wants to receive communications from you? For example, a prospect may benefit from customizing their email frequency from receiving a weekly email delivery and opt-in to receiving a monthly digest of content instead. Whereas, customers may want a more frequent touches especially if it enables them to user your product better or learn about other products.
  5. Opt-Out Reason: If someone unsubscribes from all communications, would you like to know why? Ask them in the moment. Get this valuable feedback.
  6. Get To Know Your Subscriber: In addition to confirming their communication preferences, this is also an opportunity for you to ask for information that will make for a better, personalized experience with your organization. For example, ask for their birthdate to send them a celebratory message or special promo code. Ask for their city so you can send them information about local events or initiatives.
  7. Finally, Design: Custom preference centers allow for a lot of flexibility for the brand but it should look like any other digital property managed by the organization in order to provide an omni-channel experience. Don’t risk form abandonment with an unfamiliar or overly complicated design, or because you didn’t test your preference center across browsers and mobile devices. Do your due diligence with designing a user experience that looks good and is easy to use.

Wrap it Up

Custom preference centers help marketers grow their database, understand their customers better, increase customer loyalty, and gather valuable feedback. What’s not to like about all of that? Organizations can use this information to tailor communications more effectively based on their subscribers’ selections. Marketers that offer a custom preference center see higher engagement and retention rates in their database. More importantly, the end-user benefits from a personalized content experience.

For support with a customer preference center, reach out to Relationship One.

By | 2017-10-25T03:32:32+00:00 January 3rd, 2017|Center of Excellence, Eloqua, Oracle Marketing Cloud|0 Comments

About the Author:

At Relationship One, we empower organizations to modernize their marketing through strategy, technology and data. With a core staff of experienced marketing consultants, integration specialists, data analysts and development gurus, we have a well-respected track record for delivering solutions that meet our customers’ unique business needs.

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