BLOG POST 4 mins 02/27/2020

Leveraging Preference Management: Part 3

One of the top preference management trends and initiatives for 2020 is a push to build brand trust with customers. And one of the best ways to do this is through leveraging a comprehensive, user-friendly preference center.

In the second part of this blog post series, we covered the six essential elements of a modern preference center: preferences, user profile, privacy rights, policies and terms, cookies settings, and a trust center. If you’re convinced this type of preference center will create customer loyalty for your brand, but are overwhelmed with the prospect of implementing it, you’re not alone. 

In this blog post, we’re breaking down the three stages of building a preference center: crawl, walk, run. You can use this information to self-assess at what stage your company is and to guide your plan to progress to the next stage. 

Evolution of a Preference Center

There are five areas of your business to wrap your head around before diving into building a preference center: information, technology, processes, internal use, and ownership. It’s important to understand the current level your organization is in each of these categories. To help assess your current levels, you can look at the three common threads running through all of them.


The first commonality is stakeholders. These are the important people who need to be involved in each stage of building your preference management program. 

The first type of stakeholder falls under sponsorship. As your preference management project increases in size and scope, you’ll need increased numbers and levels of sponsors. Next, identify the people rolling up their sleeves doing the day-to-day work of bringing the project to fruition. Finally, understand what group of people will receive the benefits from the data that will come out of the final preference center. This includes customers, as well as your internal teams. 

Building a preference center is typically a cross-functional project, and needs ownership and input from multiple teams. Getting buy-in from stakeholders before the project starts prevents delays and surprises, while increasing your project’s success rate. 

Martech Stack

The martech stack is the second commonality. After all, your organization has invested in a lot of technology. It’s important to make sure you’re leveraging all the different components of the technology you’re using today within your preference management strategy. 

This includes your CRM platform, marketing automation tool(s), customer data solution, content management system, and identity, access, and verification platform. It’s important to streamline operations across systems and create a smooth experience for your customers, as well as your internal team. 

It’s also important to consider how data flows across systems today, as well as account for multiple instances you may have for different brands, business units, or mergers and acquisitions. 


Measuring for success is vital to every preference management program. However, it’s important to be realistic about what metrics you want to attain with preference management and your preference center(s). The maturity of your program impacts what you’ll measure and the goals you’ll set. You need to aim for achievable metrics at each stage based on what changes or additions you’ve made to your preference center. 

The Stages: Crawl, Walk, Run

No team can drop all their responsibilities to build a comprehensive preference center overnight. It has to happen alongside regular business operations and must be a well thought out strategy and implementation. The three stages of building a preference center – crawl, walk, run – allow teams to understand the place they’re starting from, create a roadmap of where they’d like to go, and break that down into actionable steps.

Crawl Stage

You can think of the crawl stage as the bare minimum for compliance. Sometimes, it’s just a communications preferences link in an email or on a website that leads to a simple preference center. At the crawl stage, you’ve checked the box for all regulatory requirements. Your preference center may only collect consent records and essential contact information such as name, email address and phone number. Companies will know they’re ready to transition to the next stage when they are ready to execute simple segmentation based on preference center data.

Walk Stage

The walk stage ushers in a more advanced preference center experience. The data you collect gets more detailed. You’ll also ask the user to get more involved in the choice of messaging frequency and channels. 

This is also the stage at which the opt-down makes an appearance. Also known as self-segmentation, subscribers have a more nuanced preference management experience, opting out of information they’re not interested in and at the same time perusing a variety of other topics they might actually want to hear about. This is a great alternative to a simple opt-out and should reduce blanket unsubscribes by presenting more options to your audience. 

In the walk stage, companies have a firm grasp on their segmentation data. This means including more granular information in your preference center, such as language, affiliation, and address. And users should have the ability to edit that information on their own. Most important at this stage is aligning user preferences with outbound messaging to demonstrate transparency and build trust. 

Run Stage

The run stage introduces advanced preference management tactics such as progressive profiling, privacy policies, and trust centers. The data set being collected expands to include job role, job level, and department. At the run stage, marketers also shift to a first-party data strategy, reducing their reliance on third-party data sources to build their proprietary data set. 

Preference Management Technology

No matter what stage of building a preference center your company is at, using preference management technology is essential. A preference management solution can serve as your source of truth for consent and preferences, and should be able to integrate with your full stack to surface data in relevant systems and apps. 

Most importantly, preference management software should grow with you as you progress through the crawl, walk, run stages. Automation, out-of-the-box integration, and other features should eliminate manual tasks tied to collecting and managing customer preferences. A technology solution can help you achieve your preference management goals for 2020 in the least amount of time and with the least amount of headaches.

For more information about preference management, watch our most recent expert webinar. We discuss the stages of driving a tactful customer journey by leveraging a preference center, reducing global unsubscribes, and utilizing opt-in best practices to catapult a holistic marketing engagement strategy.

Want to dig deeper into building customer trust through preference management? Download our free eBook!

To learn more about the OneTrust PreferenceChoice preference management solution, schedule a 1-1 meeting to talk to an expert today. 

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