Types of Email Preference Center – Dos and Don’ts of Subscription Centers

In a previous blog post, we talked about what an email preference center is, how it functions and its various benefits. An email preference center or subscription center can significantly augment your email deliverability, engagement and conversion.

Here we’ll walk through different types of email preference centers and winning methods for building subscription centers.   

Types of email preference center

You know that when done correctly, an email preference center is one of the best allies for your email marketing efforts. These subscription centers can help create long-standing profitable relationships with clients and increase engagement while also growing your sales pipeline with qualified leads.

Here are some examples of different types of email preference centers.  


This email preference center is presented when you are asking people to sign-up for your email database and newsletter. But if the sign-up form is only collecting email address, then you are limiting the capacity of collecting vital data – that’s why you need to use a double opt-in sign-in process to capture critical data about users’ preferences.


An update preferences page is presented when subscribers hit buttons like ‘Update Preferences’ to update their contact details. These preference centers ease subscribers adding or updating their physical address, home phone numbers, work phone numbers, mobile numbers, email addresses or other contact details. This helps ensure that your email list gets easily updated and lowers the risks of email bounces and delivery failure.


The opt-out preference center functions in a similar fashion to the other centers with one main difference. These email preference centers are created especially to enable subscribers to present various substitutes to opting out, such as: snoozing email subscriptions or reducing email frequency to prevent unsubscribing.

A major reason why subscribers want to  opt-out is because they are receiving too many emails. That’s when these email preference centers come into play to help change the frequency of communication a subscriber receives so they don’t have to opt out entirely.

Buying and account registration:

These email preference centers are specifically created for account registration and processing purchases. The most common option that is added to these email preference centers is email subscriptions.

Behavioral data:

One new type of email preference center that is emerging is an implicit email preference center that enables marketers to collect behavioral data of targeted customers. The behavioral data includes site visit, adding products to shopping cart, interactions on social media, responses and activities with email campaigns, and also offline interactions. These types of email preference centers shed light on every kind of activity and preference which can be pooled with explicit data to get a multi- dimensional view of subscribers.

Frequency options:

Email preference centers are created specifically to present options for subscribers to self-select the desired frequency or to decrease the frequency in which they want to receive email communications. Especially if you have multiple newsletters and offer emails, you can schedule all your emails according to their preferred frequency of emails.

Special interests:

This email preference center will present a list of options to make specific choices such as specific type of content, product alerts, offers etc. If you’re going to use one of these centers, it’s important to make sure you have an adequate amount of content readily available to share with subscribers.  

Dos & Don’ts of email preference center  

While creating various email preference centers for your email marketing campaigns, do not forget these dos and don’ts.

DO explain why

You need to be precise about what you are asking your subscribers. At the same time, you should refrain from asking new subscribers very private questions that they might shy away from; questions regarding their age or income may repel new or existing subscribers. However, if your email marketing campaigns require some sensitive information, then you need to explain why that information is important and how it will aid in improving your subscriber’s user experience. At the same time, you also need to explain how you value and protect users’ privacy and their information. If the data is not mandatory, then make sure mark those fields as optional to let them choose to skip if they want.

DON’T use subscription centers for a survey

Never use an email preference center for surveying purposes. Many marketers make the mistake of using subscription centers to survey their prospects and ask for comments or opinions. These survey types of subscription centers will confuse subscribers, and they might leave the form without adding their input, thus defeating the purpose of creating an email preference center in the first place. Instead, you can ask for their ideas and opinions with standalone email programs in order to grab their interest.

DO set expectations

You must make your subscribers aware of the usefulness of your email marketing campaign. You need to clearly explain what they should expect from your campaigns and why they should sign up for your email list. For this, adding descriptive information to support why they want to opt-in for emails with details on your program such as topics of content, appearance, type of offers, frequency. You might even want to consider including  an image snapshot or URL of any sample newsletter. In short, you need to demonstrate the value of your program.

DON’T ask too many questions

Similar to asking sensitive information, asking too many questions will drive your prospects away, and they will abandon your form. You may need more information than email address but you need to be careful you do not end up asking too many questions. This is especially true if they are accessing forms on their mobile devices.

Limit your questions to just as much you need to do segmentation of your prospects and deliver customized messages for each segment. You may also add those questions that are not mandatory, but, can add extra useful information as ‘Optional’. If you subscriber wish to answer, might answer or skip it, but will not leave your forms. Progressive profiling also comes in handy so you don’t overwhelm your prospects.

DO use multiple versions

Do make sure that you have multiple variations of your email preference center ready. You can check out different types of email preference centers stated above and choose based on your requirements. Make sure you have ‘Change Frequency’, ‘Update information’, ‘Unsubscribe’, ‘Opt out’ versions ready as these email preference centers are essential for every type of program and improve the overall email experience  for your subscribers.

You can also add a separate opt-in center for all of your promotional emails and a mouse-over snippet copy to give additional useful information for those promotional programs.

One last tip

Make sure you DO have an update or maintenance plan ready for your email preference center. Many marketers mistakenly forget their email preference centers for as long as one year and miss out if all parts are working properly or if the database is updated. Remember that missing out on updates or glitches that require immediate fixing can severely affect your email campaign. That’s why we recommend auditing the health of your all email preference centers to see if they are all functioning and up-to-date.