An email preference center is a tool that helps you establish a healthy communication cadence with your subscribers. It provides an easy way for your subscribers to manage their email by giving them a centralized portal to control what they receive and how often they receive your messages. What might motivate you to set up a preference center?

Let’s start by taking a look at this survey from HubSpot that explains the main reasons why users unsubscribe from your list.

It may come as no surprise that 54% of respondents said that they were receiving emails from a sender too frequently. And that 49% of respondents said that “the content became too repetitive or boring over time.” Both of these reasons are easy fixes if you implement a preference center!

Email preference centers have a positive impact on both your deliverability and on your relationship with your subscribers. Here’s why:

1)   Reduce unsubscribe/complaint/spam reports. There are many reasons why a customer may decide to unsubscribe from your list and attrition is normal. However, an email preference center helps provide alternatives for those who may be unsubscribing for reasons that are within your control.

When people want to remove themselves from your list, there are 3 things they can do:

  1. Unsubscribe
  2. Report you as spam
  3. Manage their preferences

You really want your customers to select “manage your preferences” instead of hitting the spam button. By asking your customers how frequently they want to hear from you and about what content, you’re putting control back in their hands.

See the example below by FTD where they provide two paths for their would-be unsubscriber:

  1. An option to reduce the number of emails they receive to once per week.
  2. The original option to completely unsubscribe.

FTD also collects data on why people are unsubscribing to presumably improve their email program for their current subscribers. Well done.

2)   Showcase your email offerings.  Do you have multiple email lists? Your email preference center is a great way to let subscribers know about them! Via the preference center, they can not only remove themselves from unwanted mailing lists, but also self-select the ones they are more interested in. This is a great way to manage your content frequency and relevancy.

However, when you ask your subscribers to manage their preferences, you have to make sure that you have enough content to provide them to make this choice worthwhile. If someone wants to receive emails and tips every day, you need to have that. If you want to vary your emails by industry, role, etc. you need to have that content ready as well. The key here is starting slow with a few options and building it out as you have more options.

3)   Help with your segmentation strategies. Email preference centers remove some of the guesswork from your email marketing campaigns. By asking subscribers about their interests and preferences, you can deliver customized campaigns that are sure to elicit a better response. For daily deals site, Groupon, their preference center is grouped into three main categories:

  1. Location
  2. Types of deals
  3. Notifications

With this information, they can localize their content based on what their subscribers want on a daily basis. They also give subscribers the option to change their frequency.


Having an email preference center is key to managing your email deliverability and to building a transparent, respectful relationship with your customers. If you’re able, consider asking your subscribers to set their email preferences from the get go—either in your welcome email or in one of your other initial interactions with them. There’s no better way to start off on the right foot with your subscribers than by asking them how they’d prefer to be communicated with.

For more information on customizing your emails, check out our Email Segmentation Strategies guide.


With more than 15 years of experience, Carly Brantz is an email deliverability and inbound marketing veteran. As the VP of Revenue Marketing at SendGrid, Carly empowers her team to transform marketing from a cost center to a revenue generator. With a key focus on funnel optimization, Carly leads the team responsible for content creation, lead nurturing, SEO/SEM, and website optimization. An accomplished speaker, Carly shares her email delivery and revenue marketing tactics as a headline speaker on SendGrid’s international roadshow as well as other Marketing conferences.