Get started with preferences in Journey Builder

We recommend that you read the Journey Builder introduction before starting this guide!


In this article, you will learn about email preferences. Email preferences mean that you give your subscribers the choice to decide what type of email communication they want to receive from you. This means that, in addition to the option to completely unsubscribe, Rule also has a page for customers to manage and choose their preferences without being unsubscribed.

The main advantage of preferences is that it helps your company reduce the number of people who unsubscribe from your emails. With the help of preferences, your subscribers can easily opt out of communication they do not want, by allowing them to update their preferences instead of completely unsubscribing from your mailings.


We will go through:


  1. How to create preferences
  2. How standard opt-in works and what it is
  3. How to sort the order of your preferences
  4. How to add a custom URL
  5. How to import subscribers with existing preferences
  6. How to connect preferences in Journey Builder
  7. How to add an unsubscribe link in your mailings from Journey Builder
  8. How to add a link to the preference settings for your subscribers


How to create preferences


Click on 'Preferences'



Then on '+ New group'



  1. Choose a group name for your preference group
  2. Here you fill in all preference categories that you want to include in the preference group


Now you have created a preference group. If you want to create more preference groups, simply repeat all the steps above.

Multiple preference groups can be useful if, for example, you have multiple brands that you do not want to mix on your opt-in/out page because each preference group has its unique preferences linked to it.




How standard opt-in works and what it is


Standard opt-in is a feature that allows you to determine which content should be displayed for subscribers who have not made an explicit choice regarding their preferences. If you choose to check the box "Standard opt-in" on your preference, all subscribers who have not opted out of those preferences will receive the mailings until the subscriber chooses to unsubscribe.


Subscribers who do not have any explicit preferences will by default be treated as "Opt-out", which means that if preference X is not standard opt-in. If you import 100 subscribers, Rule interprets it as those 100 subscribers should not receive the content for preference X. This setting can be changed by checking the box "Standard opt-in".


When the subscriber updates their preferences, they can choose to subscribe or unsubscribe (opt-in / opt-out) to different preferences.



How to sort the order of your preferences


Preferences can be sorted by dragging the preference row and dropping it in the new position. In the "Preview" to the right, you can see the order in which preferences will be presented to your subscribers.



Changes to the sorting order or preference names take effect immediately, whether the unsubscribe page is hosted by Rule or on the customer's website ("Custom URL").



How to add a custom URL


Rule provides a default page for subscribers to update their preferences and unsubscribe. The default page is hosted on our server at https://app.rule.io and is designed as the Rule app.


"Custom URL" is a feature for advanced users who want to host the preference page on their own website. The technical installation requires coding skills and access to your website.



When activated, "Custom URL" can be fully customized to your brand. Note that this only applies if you are using a custom URL.


It is possible to update styling for:


  1. Buttons
  2. Checkboxes
  3. Colors and fonts.
  4. It is also possible to change and translate the existing texts.
  5. You can even add images and longer text descriptions per preference (remember that the preference order is predictable and can be changed in the admin view).


Before activating your own URL, you should add code to your website. Copy the code at the bottom of the preference admin page and a developer can customize the code and add it to your website. Once the code is live on your website, add the link to that page in the "custom URL" field.



Import subscribers with existing preferences


After activating preferences, "Apply preferences" will be available on the import page when importing subscribers: For more information on how to import subscribers, read the article on importing subscribers.


The "Apply settings" feature during import should be used when/if your subscribers have already given their explicit preferences - outside of Rule. If subscribers have not given their explicit preferences, do not import preferences for these subscribers and instead use "Standard opt-in".



How to link preferences in Journey Builder


To link preferences to your content in Journey Builder, do the following:


  1. Click on the Journey Builder icon to view your Journeys
  2. Select a lane and click on the three dots on the right side of the box. Learn more about Lanes and Journeys in the Journey Builder introduction.
  3. Click on "Preferences"
  4. Select "Preference group"
  5. Link "Preference"



How to add an unsubscribe link to your emails from Journey Builder


It is important to include an unsubscribe text in your emails. You can do this by opening your footer in your Journey, clicking on insert link, and pasting "%Link:Unsubscribe%". It is important that the protocol is <other>.

See the example image below.


If you want to learn more about how footers and headers work, you can read about it in the Journey Builder introduction.




How to add a link to the preference settings for your subscribers


If your subscribers receive an email that is linked to a preference, they will receive the link "Manage my preferences" in the footer.



This means that you do not need to add it manually, but if there are preferences, the link will be added in the footer. If the subscriber clicks on the "Manage my preferences" link, they will see their preference settings and that is also where they can make their choices. See the image below!


The advantage of this link is that the subscriber will not be unsubscribed from anything, unlike a regular Unsubscribe link. In the Preference settings, they can update which preferences they want to subscribe to, which allows the subscriber to engage more with the information they are interested in.




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