In order to build up a level of trust between the business and the consumer, it’s important for the former to listen to the latter. This includes things like contact preferences. While it can be irritating to get a notification, especially if it’s a reminder to purchase something in your basket, it’s less annoying if you’ve had a say in the process.
Preferences are essentially a way for marketers to get in touch with customers without becoming irksome. If you do it right, you can allow your customers to choose all sorts of preferences, such as how often they want to be contacted, through which channels, and what products or services they wish to hear about.
Years ago, before the days of GDPR, there was a good chance that you’d be inundated with emails and other notifications, simply because you forgot to tick a box on a contact form. Marketers would often use a trial and error approach, to see which factors played a part in click through rate and increased sales. The result of this was a continuous stream of emails.
Unfortunately, this approach wasn’t all that successful. Email marketing can lead to inbox fatigue, which could turn a customer off your brand completely. Overall, this method will generally mean fewer email opens, as well as more unsubscribes.
Since the introduction of the smartphone, we’re used to getting text messages, emails, push notifications, and in-app notifications almost constantly. Such communications tend to be ignored or quickly dismissed. So if, as a marketer, your comms strategy is just to send email after email, you should probably try to mix things up a bit!
The simple solution to the issue of sending countless emails seems to be asking your customers to inform you of their contact preferences. But even this isn’t as easy as it sounds! How do you ask for quite a lot of information without the customer getting frustrated? And at the other end of the scale, how do you prevent someone from oversharing and telling you their entire life story via a contact form?
Perhaps the key thing is to allow flexibility. While you may have a dedicated preference centre, it can also be a good idea to integrate the contact preference form into other parts of the user journey. That way, you’re allowing for additional consent and data capture, and probably won’t ask for as much information in these sections.
Another great thing to think about in terms of data collection is how you engage with your customers anyway. Consider your onboarding experiences, such as surveys or quizzes, and try to determine what makes these appealing to engage with. There’s usually an element of fun, and such experiences can also be personalised. If you’re able to incorporate these things into your preference forms, you’re bound to get higher engagement rates.
Before you put your contact strategy into place, make sure you do some testing first! As with almost every marketing strategy, your methods should be supported by data, obtained through rigorous testing. One of the simplest ways to evaluate your methodology is to use A/B testing. In the case of contact forms, this would involve creating a few versions of the form, and seeing which one gets the best results.
You can experiment with different phrasing and questions, as well as changing the layout of the form. Then use metrics such as how many forms are completed, and how often a form is started but not finished, to determine which form option to choose. Customer loyalty is also a good indicator of success – it’s good practice to look at your unsubscribe rate as well as form completion.
Another way of getting customer feedback is to set up a focus group – they will be able to tell you what does and doesn’t work directly. And if you’d rather not use a focus group, it’s nonetheless important to get someone outside of the marketing team to look at your form, in order to check that it’s not overly complicated and makes sense. It’s not always easy to be objective if you were the one to design the form.
Along with methods of asking for contact preferences and testing different form options, there are a few other things to consider when it comes to your contact strategy. We’ve outlined a couple of examples below:
You may need to consider working with a graphic designer to create your online forms, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience in this area. It’s important that your forms look appealing and professional, as well as comply with your branding guidelines. Don’t forget to test the form across different devices and browsers either, as they may not render well across all platforms.
People are not always keen on completing forms at the best of times, so try to avoid asking for information you don’t need. This may require various iterations of the same form, paring it back each time until it’s as streamlined and concise as possible.
It’s essential to be completely transparent about all contact preferences. The customer needs to be in control of their data, and you must be able to deliver on the options selected. So if you offer certain communication limits, whether it’s in relation to the content or frequency of the messages, you have to have the technical ability to comply with every request.
You also need to ensure that you’re complying with any relevant laws and regulations, such as GDPR. Depending on your industry, as well as the location of your customers, there may be fairly specific anti-spam guidelines you must adhere to.