Consumer Email Tracker Series: The Importance of Email Preferences | DMA

Filter By

Show All

Connect to


Consumer Email Tracker Series: The Importance of Email Preferences


This article is written by Russell Dawson, Senior Deliverability Strategist at Dotdigital, who is part of the Email Council and its Research Hub.

The Importance of Email Preferences in Effective Marketing

Whilst it will be no surprise to hear the continued championing of email as the consumer’s preferred one-to-one channel, the DMA Email Consumer Tracker 2023 report emphasises the importance of preferences in email marketing, particularly in terms of frequency and relevancy.

The report reveals positive news for email marketers, with an increase in consumers finding brand emails useful, from 15% in 2021 to 32%, primarily due to relevancy. Additionally, the preference for clicking through emails has risen from 25% to 40%, likely influenced by Apple's Mail Privacy Protection. Consumers are increasingly aware of the brands they are loyal to and wish to receive marketing emails from.

The report highlights consumers' desire for control over their mailbox.

Overwhelming frequency, lack of relevancy, and even forgetting that they signed up are the main reasons for unsubscribing. This article explores the importance of preference centres, frictionless opt-outs, and sender recognition in addressing these concerns.

How much is too much?

Determining the right email frequency is subjective, as each prospect or customer has a different tolerance level. Factors such as exceeding expectations, urgency of current needs, relevancy of content/offers, and emails from other brands all play a role in defining what is considered too much email.

  • Signed up to an average ten brands, the report shows that 37% of consumers now keep personal and marketing emails separate by using different inboxes, indicating that they have preferred brands they rely on for offers and content.
  • While daily emails can be suitable for subscribers with urgent needs or seeking new deals, the data suggests that even 2-3 emails per week can be excessive for many consumers. "Too many emails" remains the main reason for unsubscribes (57%), making preference centres a valuable tool to shift the focus back to the subscriber.
  • Preference centres place the emphasis back on the subscriber and empowers them to customise their experience according to their specific needs and interests. This not only increases subscriber satisfaction but also helps brands deliver more targeted and personalised content, resulting in improved engagement and long-term subscriber loyalty.

Setting clear expectations early on is crucial.

Providing a compelling value proposition at the point of sign-up and offering preference options within the welcome series enable subscribers to customise their relationship with the brand, preventing excessive intrusion.

  • Brands that direct subscribers to set their preferences early on establish trust and relevancy, reducing subscriber inactivity and user-generated spam.
  • Key strategies for preference centres include offering an option to opt-out of all marketing communications while assuring subscribers that transactional messages will still be received.
  • Highlighting other newsletter content and themes during the welcome journey allows subscribers to identify what is useful to them, rather than being automatically added to various newsletter segments through a single sign-up. Providing options to adjust contact frequency, including snooze options for sensitive email content, and clear instructions on how to safelist a brand's email address enhance the user experience and help avoid the spam folder.

Be proactive around unsubscribes.

Unsubscribes are neutral to mailbox providers and do not affect deliverability. Removing friction to consumers whose interest is waning, have recently gone unengaged or looking to opt-out smooths the path for a reduction in spam or abuse complaints which affect deliverability.

  • Simplifying the opt-out process by placing the unsubscribe option prominently above the fold or in the header section (as well as the footer), and avoiding unnecessary login requirements, encourages smooth optouts from email lists.
  • Including the List-Unsubscribe header in email messages allows mailbox providers to provide an unsubscribe option, contributing to a sender's reputation.
  • Automated win-back benefit focused campaigns, focusing on triggered on x number of days of non-engagement can remind lapsed subscribers of their initial interest and help maintain engagement. This should be based on your subscriber’s propensity to inactivity.

Be memorable.

Building brand recognition is vital, especially during challenging times when consumers return to brands they trust. A great subject line is not the main reason your emails get opened. Recognition of you as a trusted sender is far more important!

  • Regular reminders of how and where subscribers signed up in email footers aid recall and reinforce the legitimacy of the brand.
  • Brand logos using BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) enhance security and legitimacy, with Gmail introducing a checkmark icon for senders adopting BIMI.
  • Consistency in "from name" and "sending address," particularly using a sub-domain, supports brand recognition when consumers decide which emails to open.

In conclusion, prioritising subscriber needs over brand priorities fosters trust, respect, and permission consistency.

Providing options for customised email communications, instead of bombarding subscribers with all content, creates a competitive advantage and generates positive sentiment. By addressing individual preferences and reducing opt-out friction, brands email lists remain delivered, engaged and profitable.

Want to read more great insights from the 2023 Consumer Email Tracker? Grab a copy here.

If you’re interested in the work the DMA’s Email Council does and would like to get involved, drop us a line at – we’d love to hear from you!

Hear more from the DMA

Please login to comment.


Related Articles

Book your free 30 minute consultation to turn your campaigns around

Didnt hit your Black Friday targets 2023 -email hero.png

True emotional connections between brands and customers boost revenue as well as retention, but marketers need an accurate understanding of the key trigger moments

VideoPostProd_FY24Q1_EMEA_Loyalty Webinar_Dec 7th_Presentation  (1).png

Imagine having the ability to collect zero-party data and leverage that data to personalise your newsletter content, generate loyalty, increase subscribers, boost engagement and go viral.


We’ve all been there. After completing the initial strategy and planning for a new marketing campaign, you find yourself under pressure to start delivering it straight away.

pexels-campaign del brief -3727509.jpg