Your email list is your baby. You help it grow and protect it from inactive bullies. You try to keep rejections, or bounced emails, to a minimum. And you’re heartbroken when one of your contacts unsubscribes.

But did you know there’s an easy way to reduce the number of contacts that unsubscribe and increase subscriber satisfaction? How, you ask? By setting up an email preference center. By asking subscribers what their preferences are, you can tailor your email marketing to meet their needs.

When your emails don’t meet your subscribers’ needs, their knee-jerk reaction may be to unsubscribe. But what if they just want to receive fewer emails or only messages about a specific product? You don’t want to lose those subscribers.

In this post, we’ll give you tips to set up an effective preference center to keep your subscribers happy and coming back for more.

Why an email preference center is important

Sixty percent of marketers don’t give subscribers the option to select the types of emails they want to receive, and only 30 percent of marketers allow their subscribers to decide how often they want to be emailed according to Experian’s 2013 Email Market Study. That’s where a preference center can help.

Why people unsubscribe

What causes a subscriber to hit the unsubscribe button in the first place?

Sending too frequently

Subscribers leave for a variety of reasons, but the most common reason is email frequency. 69% of U.S. email users unsubscribe from a business or non-profit email because the organization sends too many emails according to a report from Chadwick Martin Bailey.

Content isn’t relevant

Subscribers also end relationships over content that doesn’t have any value to them, so don’t junk up their inbox.

41% of US Internet users threatened to stop buying from companies that send them irrelevant messages according to the CMO Council and InfoPrint Solutions.

Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, so delivering relevant content is a win-win.

Circumstances change

Sometimes customers unsubscribe because their circumstances change. For example, they get married or switch email addresses. This causes 13% of people to unsubscribe.

Leave you for a competitor

About 8% of customers unsubscribe because they found another company that provides better, more relevant information.

Every single one of these reasons can be managed through an email preference center.

Tips to create a preference center

As you create your preference center, here are some useful tips:

Enable subscribers to select frequency

If subscribers feel bombarded by emails, they may leave and never look back. So, put your subscribers in the driver’s seat. Let them decide how frequently they want to hear from you. In your preference center, offer several frequency options such as daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly.

Enable subscribers to self-segment

It’s unlikely that your subscribers are interested in every product you sell. Why not let them select the products or content they’re interested in? Through a preference center, your subscribers can pick and choose what they want to see in their inbox.

For example, a clothing retailer can have customers select if they want information about women’s clothing or men’s. If subscribers receive relevant emails, they’re more likely to stay engaged with your brand – and stay away from the unsubscribe button. Marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns. has an example of self-segmenting in their preference center. A subscriber can check the boxes of the deals they want to receive.

email preference center example

Give subscribers a way to update their email address

How often do you change your email address? On average, 15-25% of all valid email addresses are discarded each year as people move to a different ISP, change jobs, or otherwise acquire a new address. It’s the reason why your preference center should enable subscribers to update their email address quickly.

Once you create a preference center, make sure your subscribers have access to it. Put a link to it in every email. Take a look at the example below from the CSS Conference. There’s an “Update preferences” link at the top of the email, and there’s an “Edit your subscription” link at the bottom. That’s two ways for subscribers to take control of the email they receive.

Here’s how Campaign Monitor customers can add a preference center link to emails.

Enable subscribers to select preferences at sign up

Why not ask subscribers about their preferences when they sign up for your email list? It’s a great way to establish preferences early. Some or all of the fields that are in your preference center can be included in your sign up form.

When a new subscriber signs up, they’re interested in your brand and willing to take a minute or two to ensure they get the emails they want from your company.

Wrap up

These tips should help you create an email preference center that can reduce unsubscribes and increase subscriber satisfaction. To set up a preference center in Campaign Monitor, use these simple step-by-step instructions.