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For your business’s audience, choice and control are paramount. Nobody likes having no say in how they engage with a business or what that business does with their information.  

Preference management and consent management serve as crucial methods for delivering your audience the choice and control that they deserve. In this article, we’ll dive into the basics of both concepts, explain how they can improve your business’s relationship with its audience, and how to manage both consent and preferences. 

What Is Preference Management? 

Ever get barraged by email after email from a business you’ve considered supporting? When you’re faced with irrelevant content over and over again, it can get pretty frustrating. It may even sour your opinion of that business. 

But the business doesn’t know that’s the case—they just want to make sure that the people interested in their brand, product, or services are receiving the right content. They can’t afford to blindly guess which people want to be communicated with over what channels, which don’t, and which fall somewhere in between. 

That’s where preference management comes in. 

Maybe you don’t want to receive every marketing, product update, or newsletter email from a business, but you might be okay with receiving the occasional promotional email on a limited basis. Or perhaps you prefer to learn about these things from push notifications on your phone. Preference management allows you to control that experience. 

Preference management solutions allow businesses to give users control over: 

  • How they are contacted. 
  • How often they are contacted. 
  • What kinds of content they receive. 
  • And other elements of their experience when engaging with a business. 

Benefits of Preference Management 

Ultimately, preference management gives users control over their experience—and who doesn’t like more control? For businesses, the benefits of preference management are wide-ranging and include: 

  • Higher engagement and retention: When users are bombarded with irrelevant content over the wrong channel, it’s frustrating and may cause them to avoid your business. On the other hand, users who can control when, why, and how you contact them will be far more likely to engage once they start receiving the content they’re actually interested in. 
  • Compliance: Preference management allows you to comply with a variety of laws, notably the CAN-SPAM Act, which require you to permit users to opt out of communications. You can also use preference management to comply with certain aspects of data privacy regulations. 
  • Cleaner data: When a user gives you their information and consent to be contacted, they’ll be far more likely to provide accurate and real contact information if they know they can control what they receive from you and when. 

What Is Consent Management? 

Today, every business collects and processes individuals’ personal information in one way or another. For a long time, there were no limits on what businesses could do with that data—then, data privacy regulations like the GDPR, CPRA, and others came about to ensure that business data processing activities were on the level. 

A big part of those regulations require businesses to secure, store, and act on users’ consent to data collection. The specific requirements vary from law to law, but generally, businesses must either wait until a user opts into data collection before collecting their personal information or provide users with a means of opting out of data collection.  

Often, laws require businesses to provide users with a means of opting into or out of different types of data collection, such as for sensitive personal information like race and ethnicity, data for targeted advertising purposes, and more. Check out our article, Consent Management 101: Everything You Need to Know, for a deeper dive. 

Benefits of Consent Management 

The first thing businesses think of when it comes to consent management is the fact that it’s required by laws like the GDPR and CPRA, and doing it prevents you from getting hit with a potentially eye-watering fine. Headlines often report fines in the seven-, eight-, or even nine-figure range. 

But there are other benefits to consent management aside from just obeying the law and avoiding fines. For one, it’s simply the ethical thing to do—user data belongs to that user, and when you want something that belongs to somebody else, you should ask for it first. 

It also increases trust with users. Consent management lets them know what you’re collecting from them, what you’re doing with that data, and that they have the power to change their minds down the line. Some businesses lean into this aspect of consent management and make respecting data privacy a major part of their brand. 

Consent vs. Preference Management 

Although these two concepts might seem quite different, they actually have a lot in common.  

For one, they’re both ultimately about treating your audience ethically and with respect. What’s more, both preference management and consent management are often centralized in a preference center, where users can adjust every aspect of their experience with your organization—whether that’s communication preferences or data collection preferences.  

(Just note that consent often has to be secured right at the moment of data collection, which is why the first thing so many websites show users is a cookie banner.) 

Both preference and consent management increase trust in the brand. Users tend to feel a lot safer knowing that they can control how their information is going to be used, what information they will provide, and what they’ll receive in return. 

Lastly, both help your business stay in compliance! There’s much to be said about not having to stress the potential to get hit by a large regulatory fine and suffer the financial and reputational damage that can result. 

How to Manage Consent and Preferences 

As discussed above, a key method for managing both consent and preferences is through a preference center. Giving users a single, centralized place for them to control their experience when engaging with your organization makes intuitive sense and saves them from frustratingly clicking from page to page on your website. 

Crucially, preference centers must provide users with clear, granular control over their experience. The only thing more frustrating than receiving innumerable irrelevant communications is to discover that your preferred method of communication isn’t even available. Preference centers should give users control over: 

  • The content they would like to receive (e.g., newsletters, product updates, marketing communications).  
  • The channel they would like to receive that content over (e.g., email, SMS, push notifications).  
  • How frequently they would like to be contacted (e.g., limiting communications to once per week, once per month).  
  • And what data processing activities they consent to or do not consent to. 

Together, preference management and consent management are a powerful combination. When done well, these systems reduce your organization’s risk profile, increase user trust, and make your organization one worth engaging with. 

Schedule a demo of Osano today

Ultimate Guide to Consent & Preference Management

Want to learn more about what consent and preference management is all about? Download this free guide to dive into subjects like the Global Privacy Control, do not share/sell requirements, consent management platforms, and more.

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