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The secret to lower opt outs? More opt ins.

In an increasingly noisy world, marketers are challenged to craft messages, subject lines, campaigns and strategies to capture their target audience's attention and develop a meaningful brand relationship. While much emphasis is put on creating those catchy subject lines and orchestrating campaigns to capture that attention, having a solid preference management strategy is essential for managing your database, leveraging its value... and complying with GDPR.

In order to evaluate your preference management strategy, let's start with a simple definition. Preference management is the practice by which companies collect people's preferences for types of communication, including topics (industry, vertical, etc.), channel (email, text message, etc.) and how their information can be shared.

Read on for a dive into the differences between preference data and profile data, how a complete preference management strategy can help your marketing campaigns and reporting, and where GDPR comes into play.

Rely on Preferences, Not Profile Data

One tactic that helps improve marketing campaign performance is segmenting your database and creating tailored messages. To do this, marketers rely on profile data -- such as first name, last name, job title or email address -- as well as behavioral data such as website history, email engagement or content downloads. Most of this profile data is unmanaged by the consumer (for now... see GDPR section) because it's somewhat objective. By adding an additional layer of consumer data -- their preferences -- you will build an even more engaged, valuable database.

Example: A company with a robust database of preferences can send a marketing email promoting new software for insurance providers to people who have opted in for insurance-related communications or,even better, opted in for updates regarding tools for insurance providers. Imagine the improved email open rate, click-through and engagement compared to those of an email sent to an entire database of people within the insurance industry who are opted in to your marketing emails.

Extract Granular Insights About Your Database

Beyond improving your marketing campaign performance, preference management provides valuable, micro-level insights into your database that would otherwise be unknown. Rather than relying solely on personas and industry research to make inferences about your database, collecting granular preferences allows marketers to create distinct buckets, separate from profile data, to paint a more accurate picture of their prospects and better-tailor campaigns.

How Can You Collect These Granular Insights Without Overwhelming Consumers at Registration?

Use progressive opt-in to collect preferences as the person continues to interact with your brand. Instead of collecting a laundry list of profile data and preferences upon registration, ask for basic profile information to lower the barrier to entry. Then, as the person further explores your website, prompt them to opt-in for specific types of content and adjust their communication preferences. Focus on enabling opt-in, and allowing the person to build their profile, rather than spinning your wheels on how to reduce opt-outs.

Be Ready for GDPR

One very important thing to note: the actions suggested above will be required for all companies that collect or process data of EU residents starting May 25. So those catchy emails don't go to waste, be sure to have a preference management strategy in place that allows you to market to EU residents. Here are a couple GDPR rules that apply to preference management:

  • No "blanket" consent for all purposes - a general marketing opt-in button on your registration form will no longer suffice

  • Complete consumer control of data - consumers must be able to view their profile and preference data and make changes

  • A clear understanding of purpose -- consumers are entitled to explicit descriptions of how their data will be used

By implementing a well-defined preference management strategy, marketers will have a better defined database for improved insights, results and GDPR compliance.