Subscriber Preferences: Are You Listening?

PreferencesWe’re always talking about how relevancy is critical to the effectiveness of an email marketing campaign. But really, how do you stay relevant?

One way is to put your visitors in the driver seat – let them tell you what’s relevant to them!

Your first chance to do this? When they sign up to your list. Finding out what subscribers really want is the best way to remain relevant and to keep them satisfied.

The idea is to capture pertinent information without overwhelming subscribers with a multitude of choices. Just ask a few simple questions about their preferences.

Sit Back and Self Assess

First, you need to decide what kind of information you really want to offer subscribers. This will help when you are creating questions for your form.

If you currently have a newsletter, examine the messages that you send and decide if your content is consistent with what people are subscribing to on your website.

Things to think about:

  • Are you only sending a monthly newsletter?
  • Do you send updates about in store specials?
  • How often are you going to send your messages?

Should you find that your messages don’t mesh with your form, rework your offer and get more specific about what messages your subscribers will receive.

Ask the Right Questions

Ask questionsWebsite visitors usually weigh their options prior to joining your mailing list.

They typically consider the frequency that your messages will show up in their inboxes, as well as how your messages will concern them before taking the plunge and giving you their personal information.

Asking a few questions on your web form is a great way to alleviate hesitation and assure subscribers that they will only receive messages that pertain to them.

For instance, you could ask:

  • Do you want to receive emails about company news?
  • Would you like to receive updates about new products?
  • How often do you want to receive messages?

Make your form as easy to use as possible, and keep it simple. Be careful not to overwhelm subscribers with useless fields. Only ask questions that are relevant to your campaign; focus on information that you can use to provide a better subscriber experience.

Put Your Findings to Use

You may not use the answers to your questions initially, but having them from the get-go will save you time and frustration in the long run.

By allowing subscribers to choose what information they receive, you can eliminate irritation and send very specific messages later on by segmenting your list.

Segmenting leads to higher retention rates since subscribers only receive information that is relevant to their initial request.

What is Your Experience?

Have you set up your form to allow subscribers to submit their subscription preferences?

How has this helped your campaign? We would love to hear about it!


  1. Steven Hudson

    1/8/2010 8:34 pm

    Pardon!!! Sorry could resist the pun?um Great article I am just setting up my Blog and this makes sense as bloggers we tend to put what we want to say, which is OK if it is what the reader wants. The result will show by how many opt ins you get. Letting the reader have a say to the content of a Blog to me is listening to customer and giving what they?? a customer only buys if they want it.

  2. Yee Shun Jian

    1/11/2010 7:04 am

    I noticed that it’s a natural phenomenom that open rates and CTR decreases over time with the number of follow-up messages.

    Could you perhaps write an article on how to get subscribers who have been on a list for a long time to become more active/excited again?

  3. David Lindsay

    1/12/2010 5:48 pm

    It’s a great idea. Some High Street retailers do something similar – the big ones by conducting market surveys and the smaller owner-run shops by simply talking to their customers. I would second Yee Shun Jian’s request for a further article.