Using marketing preferences

Learn how to use marketing preferences to improve the targeting and effectiveness of your campaigns.


Marketing preferences let you improve the targeting and effectiveness of your communications. You can create unlimited marketing preferences and categories, and then use them to organise your contacts based on their likes and interests. By correctly managing your contacts in this way, you're on track to boost engagement rates and improve ROI.

Contacts choose their marketing preferences in your signup form or in additional pages and forms you send to them. Alternatively, you can include preferences while manually uploading contacts into your account.

You can view your contacts' preferences on the Marketing preferences page.

To learn more about viewing a contact's preferences, check out the section View marketing preferences.


Ways to use marketing preferences

  • Send campaigns to them
  • Segment them
  • Use them in automated programs
  • Use them with advanced personalisation in campaigns and page

Organise your preferences

You can create unlimited marketing preferences, and categories to put your preferences in. But not all preferences need to belong to a category — they can stand alone.

Preferences can be either public or private:

  • Public 
    Visible in your signup forms, preference centres, and pages and forms for contacts to opt-in and -out of. A preference can have a public name that's different to its private name. Your contacts only see the public name.
  • Private
    Hidden from contacts and not visible to them.

Categories can have a public or private name. A category only shows to contacts if it contains at least one preference.

Use case - Sports and equipment store

A sports and outdoor equipment store uses two categories, each containing three preferences: 

  • Category 1: Camping
    • Preference 1: Tents
    • Preference 2: Clothing
    • Preference 3: Rucksacks
  • Category 2: Sports
    • Preference 1: Football
    • Preference 2: Running
    • Preference 3: Tennis equipment

Create a marketing preference

To create a marketing preference:

  1. Go to EmailContacts > Marketing preferences.

  2. Select New preference or category. 
  3. On the marketing preferences side panel, select Preference under the heading Type.
  4. Enter a private name and public name for your preference.
    Only enter a public name if you want it to be different from the private name.
  5. Expand the Access drop-down menu, and choose to make your preference either public or private.
  6. Expand the Category drop-down menu, and choose a category for your preference. 
  7. Select Create.
    Note: Categories and preferences in the same category, or that don't belong to a category, must have a unique private name.

Create a category

To create a marketing preference:

  1. Go to EmailContacts > Marketing preferences.
  2. Select New preference or category. 
  3. On the marketing preferences side panel, select Category under the heading Type.
  4. Enter a private name and public name for your preference.
    Only enter a public name if you want it to be different from the private name.
  5. Select Create.
    Note: Categories and preferences in the same category, or that don't belong to a category, must have a unique private name.

View marketing preferences

To view, manage, edit, and delete your marketing preferences go to EmailContacts > Marketing preferences. From here you can drag your preferences into and out of categories, and reorder. Any changes made here automatically take effect in the marketing preferences centre. 

Manage contacts' preferences

To manually opt a contact -in and -out of a preference:

  1. Go to EmailContacts.
  2. Select an address book and select the contact.
  3. Select the Marketing preferences tab.
    This lists all of your preferences and shows which ones a contact is opted into.
  4. Select or clear the preference or category check box to opt a contact -in or -out.
  5. Select Save

View contacts in a preference

To see the contacts belonging to a preference:

  1. Go to EmailContacts > Marketing preferences.
  2. In the Contacts columns, select the number of contacts.
    This is the total number of contacts belonging to the preference.
  3. From here, you can export the list, or select More actions to:
    • Copy them to an address book
    • Send a previously sent campaign
    • Delete them from the account
    • Unsubscribe them from the account
    • suppress them from the account


Use preferences in segments

To use preferences in a segment:

To learn more about segments, check out our articles on segmentation.
  1. Go to Contacts > Segments and either create a new segment or edit an existing segment.
  2. Drag the Preferences block from under Sources to create your rule.
  3. If you want to change your rule, select have any preferences to create your rule.
    You can set the rule for contacts that have any preferences, specific preferences, or not have specific preferences.
  4. After selecting the rule, select the preferences to use with the rule. Select a category to automatically select all preferences within that category.
  5. Select OK.

Send a campaign to preferences

To send a campaign to your preferences:

  1. Create a campaign in the normal way, these steps start once you reach the Select contacts and schedule campaign page.
    To learn more about creating a campaign, read our article Create, test, and send an email campaign.
  2. Select the Marketing preferences tab.
  3. Select the preferences you want to send to. Select a category to choose all the preferences in that category.
  4. Continue with sending your campaign in the usual way.

Use preferences in a signup form

You can make public preferences visible when you create a signup form.

When the generated code is applied on your site, your signups see the public preferences on the form and can opt into them.

Only preferences set as public display in the signup form.

Use preferences in your preference centre

Public preferences are automatically shown on the preference centre for contacts to opt-in and -out of. Private preferences are never shown.


Want a more customised preference centre? Check out our article on Setting up a preference centre.

Use preferences in Pages and forms

To add public preferences to a form, drag the Preferences block into your form. Your respondents see these and can opt into them.

To learn more, check out the article Form: Add marketing preferences checkboxes.

Upload contacts in bulk with preferences

You can upload contacts in bulk with their preferences by including preference columns in the source file. 

To learn more about uploading contacts in bulk, check out Getting started - Adding contacts to your account.

To create a source file:

  1. Start all preference column headers with Preference:.

    Make sure to include the colon at the end.

  2. Add your preferences after the Preference: column header. For example:
    • Preference:Tents
      Preferences that are alone and not in a category must be formatted like this. 
    • Preference:Camping>Tents
      Preferences that are in a category must be formatted like this.
  3. Add the opted-in or opted-out status for each contact in the same column as the preference. You can use:
    • True or False
    • Yes or No
    • 1 or 0

      The status can also be blank. Check out the tables below to see how blank statuses are handled.


Combining marketing preference statuses

You can see the outcomes for a contact based on their marketing preference status in the bulk source file and their status in your account below.

If you use advanced settings for merging uploaded data, blank statuses for a preference in an uploaded file is treated as unknown and is ignored and skipped over. Blank statuses aren't treated the same way as a blank entry for a contact data field.

You can only have Opted-in and Not opted-in as a status.

Update all data fields

Preference Source status (in uploaded file) Existing status (in-app) Result
Preference:Camping>Tents Not opted-in Yes Opted-in
Preference:Camping>Clothing Opted-in No Not opted-in
Preference:Camping>Rucksacks Opted-in   Not opted-in
Preference:Campaign>Shoes Not opted-in Yes Opted-in

Don't update data fields with blank values

Preference Source status (in uploaded file) Existing status (in-app) Result
Preference:Camping>Rucksacks Opted-in   Opted-in
Preference:Camping>Shoes Not opted-in   Not opted-in

Don't update data fields that already have a value

Preference Source status (in uploaded file) Existing status (in-app) Result
Preference:Camping>Tents Opted-in No Opted-in
Preference:Camping>Clothing Not opted-in Yes Not opted-in

Using preferences with ConsentInsight

When you use preferences together with recording consent (ConsentInsight) for a contact, then the contact's preferences are recorded and added to the ConsentInsight record. For example, either in a survey or signup form, or when uploading contacts in a file that contains consent and preferences. You can do more things with ConsentInsight preferences:

  • Have consent text that says I agree to receive communications on the preferences I have selected, and then any chosen preferences are stored in the same ConsentInsight record.  
  • Do an audit. If a member of your team changes a contact's preferences manually by using the Marketing preferences tab, then you can confirm this by comparing what the contact consented to in their ConsentInsight record.
  • Segment on preferences as part of Insight data.
  • Use these preferences in advanced personalisation.


To learn more about ConsentInsight and recording consent for your contacts, check out Record consent for your contacts.

Export contact preferences

Contact preferences are included when you export contacts individually or in bulk. This helps with Subject Access Request (SAR) compliance.

To learn more about SAR, check out How to process a Subject Access Request (SAR).

  • Individual export
    Each of your contact's preferences are exported when you do an individual export. If you're using preferences in combination with ConsentInsight, then the contact's preferences are also included in the ConsentInsight collection JSON file.

    Learn how to do an individual export by checking out Viewing and editing a contact.

  • Bulk export
    You're asked if you want to include marketing preferences or not when you do a bulk export of multiple contacts.

    Learn how to do do a bulk export by checking out Export an address book.

Use preferences in advanced personalisation

You can use contact preferences with advanced personalisation to personalise your campaigns and landing pages.  

To learn more, check out the article Advanced personalisation.

Use preferences in the program builder

When building a program, there are two nodes you can use preferences with:

  • 'Update contact' node
    You can update a contact to be opted into or out of a preference or preferences.
  • 'Decision' node
    You can select the condition that a contact must be opted into a selected preference in order for them to progress down the Yes route.

There's also a useful program template that helps you to migrate your preferences if you're already storing them in another way within the platform.

Marketing preferences in reporting

You can find marketing preferences in reporting in the following areas:

  • In the Campaign details section of the campaign report overview. Here, you can see which preferences you sent a campaign to.
  • At the bottom of email dashboard, a chart shows a breakdown of your preferences by popularity (up to a maximum of 25 preferences) as they stand at the current time (using the filter or date range functions on account reports won't affect it).


See also 

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