I’ve gathered some Marketo best practices and suggestions by the community to write this post for the first-time email preference center builder.
The reasons you’d want a preference center are to allow subscribers control over which emails they receive and prevent subscribers from subscribing completely (hopefully.) I’m sure you’ve all seen an example – Google “preference center examples” now if you want a refresher.
Here’s a step by step to build a basic email preference center, with more details behind each step below:
BUILD AN EMAIL PREFERENCE CENTER IN 10 STEPS
- Determine your preference center strategy – goals, audience, resources.
- Create custom boolean fields for preferences.
- Create a preference center form, within a global preference center program.
- Create a preference center page and preference center confirmation page(s), then edit the form to direct completions to the confirmation page(s).
- Create all the required batch and trigger campaigns to update subscriber preferences.
- Edit your unsubscribe footer to direct subscribers to the preference center.
- Test your email footer, forms, landing pages, and campaigns.
- Batch update preferences for existing leads and activate trigger for all new leads.
- Develop a process to include preferences in all your email sends.
- Monitor and QA for for several weeks.
1. Determine your preference center strategy – goals, audience, resources.
Ask why you want a preference center and how this will benefit your subscribers.
- Do you target different personas who may have different email preferences (roles-based or topical)?
- Do they want to stay connected, but receive less email (frequency)?
- Is there an opportunity to roll up content into a weekly or monthly newsletter (and do you have the resources execute?)
2. Create custom boolean fields for preferences.
Once you’ve defined your strategy and outlined your preference center set up, create custom fields for each preference. For example, it could be based on roles, topics, frequency, or some combination thereof.
If you integrate with CRM, decide if you want this data on your customer records or not – some prefer this in Marketo only, some prefer both in CRM and Marketo. Create in CRM first if you choose the latter. The benefit of having it in CRM is if you ever migrate off of Marketo (gasp!), the data is still on the customer record. The downside is more clutter.
I like to use a common naming convention for all custom preference center fields, like this:
3. Create a preference center form, within a global preference center program.
Your form can live under a Global Forms folder in Design Studio or as part of a global preference center program – I prefer it in the latter.
Add the following fields: email address, preference center fields, and the standard Marketo Unsubscribe field.
Change the field labels and add rich text with extra spaces:
Form pre-fill is enabled by default in your admin section, but you can double-check each field to make sure it’s enabled so that subscribers can see what they are already subscribed to.
Note: If you’re using a Marketo form embed code on your website, form pre-fill is not an option. Use an iFrame instead. See Marketo Forms: Which application is right for you?)
4. Create a preference center page and preference center confirmation page(s), then edit the form to direct completions to the confirmation page(s).
Now you have to put the form somewhere and send form completions to a confirmation page.
You can either:
- Put the preference center form on your website, and send completions to a confirmation page on your website. Preferred method is to use iframe code so you preserve Marketo form pre-fill functionality. First, put the form on a blank Marketo landing page. Then, give your web developer the page URL so he/she can create an iframe for it.
- Put the preference center on a Marketo landing page, and send completions to a Marketo confirmation page.
Go back to the form to direct completions to the confirmation page. If you want, you can create two different confirmation pages depending on if the subscriber updates preferences or unsubscribes completely. In the Form, go to Form Settings > Settings, and choose Add Choice.
At a minimum, I create these three campaigns:
Warning: This should go without saying but you’ll want to activate and test first, adding a filter to each campaign smart list for your test list.
01-Update Preferences (Batch-Existing):
Decide what you’ll do with existing records in your database. Who will you subscribe to all preferences as a default? At a MINIMUM, make sure to exclude those who are have Unsubscribed, Email Invalid, Blacklisted checked as true.
02-Update Preferences (Trigger-New):
Likewise, decide how you’ll opt-in new subscribers to preferences. How do new subscribers currently opt-in? Do you include implicit opt-ins such as any form fill out? Do opt-ins get automatically added to all preferences at the outset? Make sure to include privacy and anti-spam regulations in your considerations.
03-Unsubscribe from all Preferences:
A global unsubscribe campaign will uncheck all preferences if a subscriber chooses to unsubscribe. Optional: Include an auto-responder confirmation email and flow step here.
If your preference center includes frequency preferences, you can do this in a few ways but none are as straightforward:
- Create a newsletter roll-up by frequency and subscribe these subscribers to it – this involves creating more content!
- Use a wait step – change unsubscribe to true, wait X period, then change unsubscribe back to false
- Use an engagement program and set the cadence accordingly.
6. Edit your unsubscribe footer to direct subscribers to the preference center.
Now, customize your email footer so you send subscribers to a preference center, in addition to OR in place of an unsubscribe page. Go to Admin – Email and edit the Unsubscribe HTML and Text. You can just add your preference center messaging and URL. If you prefer to replace the unsubscribe page completely then do change the part below in bold, and remove the part in italics.
More instructions here on our Docs site: Edit the Unsubscribe Message.
7. Test your email footer, forms, landing pages, and campaigns.
Add test email addresses to all smart campaign filters. You’ll want to check that any qualifying existing and new subscribers have their preferences marked to true, and any subscribers who unsubscribe have their preferences changed to false.
8. Batch update preferences for existing leads and activate trigger for all new leads.
Once testing is completed, you are ready to go live! Run your batch campaign to update preferences for all existing records. Then, activate all trigger campaigns for incoming subscribers.
9. Develop a process to include preferences in all your email sends.
Now you’re ready to USE email preferences. Document this process, include it in all program template smart lists that will be cloned, and socialize across your team. You have to remember to include email preferences (is true) in future email sends, including those in engagement programs.
10. Monitor and QA for several weeks.
Be sure to monitor the results tab for active trigger campaigns. I also like to have smart lists in my preference center program for quick and ongoing reference.
EXAMPLE: MARKETO’S EMAIL PREFERENCE CENTER
Need some more ideas? There are plenty of examples if you Google “preference center examples.” Below is Marketo’s: http://pages2.marketo.com/emailsubscription.html.
- Josh Hill’s Building a Full Subscription Center in Marketo
- Edward Masson on How to build a Marketo Subscription Center
- Perkuto on How an Effective Subscription Center Can Improve Your Business
- Josh Hill and Madhu Gulati on Subscription Management Basics at the Los Angeles Marketo User Group Oct 22