Email Thursday – Unsubscribe vs. Preference Center



As you likely know, all emails need to have an unsubscribe link, usually located in the footer of the email message. In many cases, the link is a simple unsubscribe link that, when clicked, brings you to a webpage that asks you if you want to unsubscribe, asks you to confirm your email address, or simply informs you that you have been successfully unsubscribed from the list.

Recently though, a simple unsubscribe page has been giving up ground to a more robust and effective Preference Center page. Here, the entity from which you are unsubscribing can attempt to prevent you from unsubscribing by showing you the value of the list you are on. The preference center can serve as a central location where you can get information about the various email lists the company offers, the benefits of signing up for those lists or make one last final attempt to keep you on the list thereby reducing attrition or churn.

In the above example, you can see that the focus of this email preference center is less on unsubscribing and more in informing the user of all the benefits of remaining an member. The information ranges from asking you the frequency of emails you want to receive, hoping that you will see the value and choose to receive emails less frequently rather than not at all. It is also a chance for the company to collect demographic information about you. The result is that you may arrive at this preference center with the intention of unsubscribing from an email list but instead, you end up changing the frequency of emails you receive, signing up for even more newsletters and tell them when your birthday is, what your gender is and where you live.

In this example, there is no attempt made to prevent the user from unsubscribing. After clicking the Unsubscribe link in an email, you are immediately unsubscribed.

The benefits of a preference center are abundant…

  1. It gives you the opportunity to allow a user to change the frequency of mailings
  2. It gives you the opportunity to get the user to give you more personal information
  3. It gives you the opportunity to plead your case about all the benefits of staying on the list
  4. It gives you the opportunity to ask the user for feedback on why they are unsubscribing from the list

Overall, a preference center is a far more comprehensive way to go. That being said, it does not always have a positive effect on the list size. Burying the unsubscribe checkbox amongst questions, choices and pleas to remain on the list can annoy your subscribers even more. Asking them to re-enter their email address to confirm can annoy them. And sending them an email to confirm that they will no longer receive emails is generally not good either. That tactic can prove to be a direct line to a “mark as spam” complaint.