GDPR, in effect for 15 months now, has affected the marketing profession—marketing automation, in particular. Though information security and data protection have always been important considerations, they've now only grown in significance.

As a wide-ranging piece of international legislation with clear restrictions on how businesses can and can't use personal information, GDPR has made marketers more sensitive to the needs and preferences of their target audiences.

That's a good thing, overall, but there's no denying that compliance has tipped the balance in favor of prospects and customers, and away from marketers.

Email preference centers have been designed as a means of having the best of both worlds: Prospects and customers get to have control over what communications they receive and can unsubscribe at will; marketers get to send better, more targeted communications.

That said, many marketers don't believe they generate enough actionable data or customer activity to justify the effort and expense.

But with the right awareness, adjustments, and customizations, a preference center can be one of the best tools for creating more lasting and useful relationships with prospects and customers alike.

If you're a marketer, here's how you should use it.

Establish what you need and what you don't need

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Jason Lark is managing director at Celerity, a data-driven marketing agency and systems integrator.

LinkedIn: Jason Lark

Twitter: @nasojlark