Getting Ready for GDPR with Email Preference Centers

Getting Ready for GDPR with Email Preference Centers

With just months to go before the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations go into effect, email marketers are working hard to get their accountability and compliance measures in order before GDPR Day, May 28, 2018.

And it’s not just brands and publishers in the European Union. Whether you’re in Europe or Yonkers, if you send a single email to an address in the EU, you have to play by the rules or risk steep fines. How steep? Up to €20 million or 4% of your global turnover, whichever is higher.

So what does GDPR preparation look like for email marketers? Suppression list management and other compliance solutions will be necessary for getting your data practices in good standing with the law, but marketers can’t stop there. They’ll also need to foster strong audience relationships if they want to earn the consent from their users required by GDPR.

One way to do this is by implementing email preference centers. A preference page gives users an easy way to manage the communication they receive from you. By empowering your users to opt in and personalize their email communications, you can stay GDPR-compliant while improving the user experience.

Keep reading to see how email preference centers can fit into your GDPR plan.


Email preference centers allow you to collect and record the GDPR-mandated explicit consent from your audience.

Come May 2018, email marketers will only be able to communicate with EU users who have provided their “informed and unambiguous consent.” That means you can’t sneak in a “super special bonus” newsletter subscription while they’re registering for something else. Brands must let their audience know exactly what’s up.

GDPR also mandates that marketers must obtain consent through a “clear, affirmative act,” which means some common opt-in practices won’t cut it after GDPR. No more misleading “leave this box blank if you do not want to not receive this newsletter” copy. Instead, the opt-in text must inform the user in simple language.

(Keep in mind that capture forms with pre-checked boxes don’t meet this “affirmative” requirement because the user isn’t personally providing the affirmation. You might think you’re helping your audience, but the GDPR isn’t buying it.)

Implementing preference centers provide a centralized place where users can provide that explicit consent to stay in touch and retract it too. After all, GDPR has something to say about that as well.


GDPR requires changes in preference to be simple

People’s preferences change over time. Maybe their situation changes, and the newsletter they signed up for is no longer relevant to their needs. Or maybe they develop a late-in-life allergy to email communication. Whatever the reason, the GDPR says that brands must make it easy for users to change their preferences.

A preference center provides your audience with an easy way to opt out of communication, but it also gives you the opportunity to catch them at the door and pique their interest in another newsletter. For example, if you’re a publisher with multiple content sections, you might offer a newsletter for each of these subjects. If users decide they don’t need that sports newsletter anymore, maybe they’ll be interested in a newsletter about health or business.

Audiences may also grow dissatisfied with the frequency of email they receive. If that’s the case, you can also provide the option to opt down from a daily newsletter into a weekly or monthly email cadence. When offering choices can mean the difference between keeping subscribers and watching them walk away, preference centers aren’t just simpler for your audience; they’re simpler for you too.


GDPR means brands must make better connections with their audiences, and email preference centers can help.

Ultimately, GDPR is about transparency: companies must be open with their users about data collection. While bringing your brand into compliance may not be easy, the onset of GDPR provides an opportunity for companies to get smarter about their marketing practices.

After all, GDPR rules don’t just govern how marketers obtain consent; they set strict guidelines for how they maintain it too. Brands must keep records of and manage consent on an ongoing basis, which means that these brands must work to become brands that their users deem worthy of ongoing consent.

Brand trust will be more important than ever after May 2018, and so will a system for obtaining and managing this trust. Preference centers can connect your audience with more relevant content, which can increase engagement, and in turn, their trust in your brand. Transparent opt-in and opt-out practices can also contribute to this trust, which makes preference centers a must.

So why aren’t you using email preference centers yet? UnsubCentral’s preference center solution is quick, seamless, and can have you up and running in a matter of minutes. When some brands are spending millions on GDPR compliance, the preference center can be the most painless part of your GDPR plan.

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