Tailor marketing strategies to customer preferences

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Dan Smith, SVP of marketing, ClickSquared
Dan Smith, SVP of marketing, ClickSquared

To make communications relevant, marketers need information about each customer's preferences and interests. But where do you get this information? How do you coax customers to give it to you? A well thought-out preference center can make all the difference across all channels. 

A good data-capture strategy is the foundation for building trustful customer relationships, and preference centers are the key to that strategy. By providing a vehicle for customers to manage how and what data is captured, preference centers build trust — enabling them to define the frequency of contact, the channel or channels for that contact, the content they'd like to receive, and even what behavior they are willing to have tracked. This exercise puts the control in the customers' hands, eliminating any temptation to push the "unsubscribe" or "do not solicit" buttons. 

Building an effective preference center is not easy; it takes time and effort to generate the highest return. To ensure you're developing a preference center that will allow you to create lasting relationships, you should keep four basic 
concepts in mind. 

First, limit the information requested. Look at your overall marketing strategy and use that as your guide to decide what data to request. Ask only for the information you need and you will use to execute your communications strategy.

Don't collect all the information at once. Allow your customers to share only the data they are comfortable sharing. As you build trust, they'll usually be willing to share more.

Tell your customers how the information will be used. If you plan on using preference information to send promotions, special offers or newsletters, tell them so. Give them the ability to choose which communications they prefer, and designate the frequency at which they would like to receive them. Always give them an opportunity to opt out. 

Finally, don't give up. Send periodic follow-ups to customers who haven't completed their entire profile, and remind them of the advantages of doing so.

Once you have the data, make sure you use it. Customers like it when you talk about what's important to them, so tailor your offers based on their information. It helps to ask your customers the day of the week and time of day they prefer to receive your messages.

Gathering information through preference centers is the first step in building a meaningful dialogue with your customers. By combining preference information with data you already have, you can create campaigns that are so relevant that your customers will consider your marketing communications a value-added, differentiating service.


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