Because it’s 2020 (almost 2021), and prospects want an easy, transparent way to update their communication preferences from email marketing efforts. Pardot requires that you include variable tag(s) %%unsubscribe%% or %%email_preference_center%%. You may choose to include both tags, or just 1.
The %%unsubscribe%% tag is a 1 click unsubscribe and leads to the “Pardot Unsubscribe Page”. While the %%email_preference_center%% leads to a “Preference Page”. Preference pages show the “visible” lists your prospects are subscribed to and gives transparency into the different lists prospects receive notifications from.
Should you be using the %%unsubscribe%%, %%email_preference_center%% in marketing emails, or both? The answer is it depends. You need at least one included in all marketing communications.
If you are observing click bots consistently in your email reporting, I recommend only using the %%email_preference_center%%. Click bots look for malicious links in emails and click on many of the links included in emails, including the “unsubscribe” link. This is problematic if you include the %%unsubscribe%% tag at the bottom of your emails. Using a Pardot preference center instead of an unsubscribe tag, stops click bots from automatically opting out your prospects by clicking the 1-click unsubscribe.
If there is no concern of click bots, using both the %%unsubscribe%% and %%email_preference_center%% tag is preferred from a client experience perspective. Leveraging both tags allows prospects to quickly determine if they want to be removed from all marketing emails or update their preferences to exclude them from some of your communication types.
Either way, I highly recommend, having an email preference center page, as this provides an alternative from the “all-or-nothing approach” of using only an %%unsubscribe%% tag.