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3 Steps for a Phased Approach to Preference Management

Type: Blog
Topic: Voice of Customer CX

Ideally, preference management should be present at every interaction point between company and customer, such as mobile, social media, in-store, contact center and more. However, a sweeping introduction of new functionality across the enterprise would require approval from many stakeholders and could quickly become bogged down or even abandoned. In many cases, preference management leaders choose a specific brand or line of business to use as a start-up program to prove ROI and gain momentum before seeking company-wide application.

The best starting point for many enterprises is an intentionally-limited start-up project designed to speed the journey towards ROI. Here are three simple preference management goals (offered in order of complexity) that can be proposed, piloted, budgeted and achieved within a reasonable timeframe.

1. Offer opt-down functionality in email marketing:  instead of defaulting customers to an all-or-nothing engagement choice, give them the power to tailor communications to suit their interests. Offering an opt-down option drastically reduces opt-outs and helps marketers focus messaging on topics of interest.

2. Install a website preference center:  an easy-to-use portal where customers can create individual profiles, select topics of interest, preferred delivery channels and pace of communications. Preference centers empower customers to maintain their preferences as their interests change over time.

3. Expand to a secondary channel:  with a preference center in place and opt-down functionality already in progress, expand the program to the contact center and leverage service and support calls as opportunities for consent and personalization.

An excellent example of this approach can be found in the experience of a leading national software company that develops financial and tax preparation tools for small businesses, accountants and individuals. The internal marketing team was struggling in recent years with mounting opt-out numbers — prospects and customers that were acting to prevent future communications from one of their lines of business and in doing so, were legally and permanently preventing the company from ever sending them communications again from any of their lines of business.

In an effort to stem the tide, an opt-down program was initiated within a selected business unit. When a prospect or customer chose to opt out of a given communication, they landed on an opt-down page where they were given the opportunity to opt out of (or into) any number of specific channels. The preference center also allowed customers to refine communications channel of choice, set frequency parameters and more. In other words, they were given the opportunity to personalize their experience instead of an all-or-nothing choice.

Within months of launching the program, the marketing department was able to report a greater than 60 percent conversion rate from opt-out to targeted opt-in. Extrapolated across the enterprise, that rate represented 200,000-250,000 opt-out saves over the same period of time. Bolstered by the data and the bottom-line savings it confirmed, the enterprise moved forward with an expansion of the broader preference management initiative.

As you can see, a phased approach for a preference management solution is far better than no approach. Once you can show results from the first step or two recommended above, you’ll likely gain a lot more traction in convincing stakeholders in your organization to try implementing a full solution.


Ron Patrick is the Senior Director of Product Architecture for PossibleNOW. His team owns the product roadmaps for the MyPreferences and DNCSolution platforms, keeping them ahead of industry demands, emerging technologies and regulatory changes that impact customer deployments. Ron brings thirty years of experience in team building, product delivery, software architecture and development across a variety of industries.  His focus for the last decade has been high performance SaaS platforms, data platforms and analytics solutions. His team works closely with the sales and services organizations for customer engagements from first contact to go-live.


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