What Is a Customer Preference Center? Spoiler Alert: It’s More Than Just Communication Preferences

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Posted in
SMS Marketing
Published on
Nov 20, 2023
Written by
Jennifer Sego
Jennifer Sego is the Director of Marketing for Wyng, leading the company's marketing strategy to drive business demand and brand awareness. Jennifer is a passionate marketing professional with over a decade of experience helping companies build impactful brands, communicate differentiated value, and grow high-performing teams.
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By empowering consumers to have control over their data and personalization choices, you can build trust and deliver the kind of experiences they crave.  

Orchestrating an effective personalization strategy can feel like trying to hit a moving target. Today’s empowered consumers expect personalized omnichannel experiences from brands. However, their comfort levels can vary when it comes to disclosing certain information that marketers need to make their interactions feel more relevant, without knowing how it'll be used. 

Consumers want to know what’s in it for them. The good news is, when they have a clear picture of the benefits, many consumers are willing to share details about themselves in exchange for a better shopping experience. In fact, the majority of US shoppers would share their name, email address, and gender to get more personalized recommendations. And globally, over 40% would go a step further and share their age and birthday.

With consumers in the driver's seat, brands must focus on delivering relevant experiences by relying more on data that consumers provide voluntarily, and less on data that's bought, tracked, or inferred.

To understand their customers’ wants and needs beyond communication preferences, many brands are turning towards an innovative strategy for data collection and management: customer preference centers.

Keep reading to learn why customer preference centers are so valuable—for both you and your audience. 

What is a customer preference center?

A customer preference center is a central, secure hub on a brand’s website where customers can manage all the data they want (or don’t want) to share with a brand. 

Customer preference centers nurture engagement, trust, and loyalty by letting customers fine-tune their preferences over time. This freedom of choice ultimately improves the quality of data for brands, making it easier for them to provide the personalized experiences consumers have come to expect. 

Why do you need a preference center?

Consumers need to feel secure and in control of any data they share with a brand. A good example of this is an email or SMS preference center, where people have traditionally opted in and out of different types of communications and indicated the type of content they’re interested in getting. In short, a place where they can say, "Here's what I want to hear about from you, and here's where I want to hear it."

Customer preference centers are another great way to capture valuable first- and zero-party data that can then be used to tailor experiences across email, SMS, and other channels.

The anatomy of effective customer preference centers

Asking people to share their preferences early in the customer journey is a common touchpoint for brands. Customer preference centers expand on this idea, giving customers one central place to compile all the information a brand may want or need about them. 

Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a great customer preference center: 

Secure login

Safeguarding their data is a top priority for today’s consumers. A secure login system, whether through an existing account portal or a one-time password via email or mobile, protects your customers' data and showcases your brand's commitment to security and compliance.

In fact, 76% of consumers say that companies that provide data security will encourage their loyalty, according to a Salesforce study.  

Personal information

Your customers' journey with your brand should start with them creating a personal profile, complete with their contact info (think: email and phone number) and demographic tidbits (like location, birth date, and gender).

Preferences

Preferences are any customer attribute that influences a purchase decision: context, characteristics, needs, values, interests, likes/dislikes. Preferences can't be assumed or inferred, but are essential to enhancing the experience your customers have with your brand. 

The preferences a brand asks for differ a lot based on industry, but a best practice is to only ask for data that you’re ready to act upon. If you can't make use of the data, it's better not to ask for it in the first place.

For example, a skincare brand might ask consumers to share details about their skin goals, skin type, sensitivity, or desired routine. These preferences, which customers can fine-tune over time as their needs change, can be used to customize future content, offers, and product recommendations.

Remember: The key to encouraging customers to share their preference data is trust. They must believe that your brand will use the information to offer a convenient, practical, and genuinely helpful shopping experience. 

Recent research by Salesforce found that customers are more inclined to share their data when they see clear value. Attentive’s research supports this: When asked what they would want in return for sharing their product preferences, 51% of US consumers said a free gift, 49% said personalized recommendations, and 46% said discounts. 

Product affinities

Digging deeper into your customers' shopping preferences and product affinities is a surefire way to boost engagement and ensure that your brand delivers spot-on content. Encouraging customers to tag their must-try products, preferred product categories, or favored retailer locations creates a personalized roadmap for their shopping journey.

Take a sneaker brand, for example. They can prompt customers to share what type of footwear they're hunting for, whether it's new arrivals, running shoes, retro drops, or anything in between. Customers can tag their favorite colorways, shoe sizes, or nearby stores. This treasure trove of information allows brands to deliver tailored messages, timely deal updates, and real-time product availability.

Communication preferences

We mentioned communication preferences earlier, and they’re an important element of a customer preference center. Customers today want full control and transparency when it comes to how and when they hear from brands. Give them the freedom to choose their preferred communication channels (e.g., email or text), the content and promotions they want to receive (e.g., top news, product alerts, flash sales), and even the type of experiences they desire (e.g., product finder quizzes, sweepstakes, sampling programs).

The right to be forgotten (RTBF)

Since peoples’ preferences change over time, under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines, it’s necessary to offer your customers an easy way to say "I want out" or set limits on how long you keep their data. This means consumers are always in control of their information. 

Providing a "right to be forgotten" or data expiration options ensures your customers remain in the driver's seat when it comes to their data throughout their journey with your brand.

Benefits of a customer preference center

Early interactions with a new customer are like a promising first date—both the customer and the brand tread lightly, gathering initial information to illuminate how the relationship might unfold. As the customer's relationship with a brand deepens, they willingly share more information, creating a mutually beneficial and respectful exchange.

Giving customers the ability to control their data helps build trust and engagement with a brand. But it also means more accurate, reliable, and compliant data that brands can use without fear or risk. 

One of the major benefits of a customer preference center is that the data stored can be used to customize experiences across all marketing channels. That’s where the partnership between Attentive and Wyng—connecting customer preferences with innovative conversational commerce—comes into play. 

Brands can use Wyng to create highly interactive digital experiences (like product finder quizzes, promotions, and preference centers) that engage customers at the right moments and capture valuable preference data. That preference data can then be synced to Attentive to create SMS segments and journeys that are highly personalized.

Read more about how Wyng and Attentive work together to help brands achieve deeper personalization, build brand loyalty, and drive revenue.

About Wyng

Wyng helps brands grow and understand their audience, to deliver more relevant experiences. With Wyng, marketers can easily build interactive digital experiences that engage customers at the right moments, earn preferences and other zero-party data, and personalize in real-time. Whether the experience is a product finder quiz, promotion, or preference center, Wyng experiences are always well-timed, user-friendly, and offer genuine value to consumers. Wyng serves over 250 global brands, including Disney, Estée Lauder, Sony, Tractor Supply, and Unilever, who use Wyng to drive opt-ins, increase sales, and strengthen consumer trust and brand affinity.

Interested in becoming an Attentive Partner? Learn more about our partner program here.

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