Best Practices for Digital Marketing Compliance

In the last few years, new legislation such as GDPR and CCPA has come into effect. Unfortunately, many companies have had to rush to shift their marketing strategy and implement new practices to comply. Companies failing to adhere to these new rules are experiencing significant consequences (such as fines and unhappy customers). All this has put the topic of marketing compliance at the forefront and made marketers think about how they can stay ahead of the game to avoid any future fiascos. 

While GDPR and CCPA affect a select group of marketers and organizations, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear if you don’t do business in the UK or California. These new laws signify the beginning of a change in the way companies are expected to collect and use customer information and, as a result, how they market to their audience. 

These regulations have also shown us that many companies could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they had simply implemented a few best practices. That’s why, today, we’re sharing a few tips that will help you prepare for any upcoming compliance requirements and improve your marketing results and engagement across the board. 

So, let’s get started!

Let Your Contacts Choose How They Want You to Use Their Information

Compliance regulations are designed to protect the privacy rights of individuals and require companies to change how they collect, store, and use information. Companies that don’t have a system in place to address requests or manage user preferences often struggle to adapt to these requirements once they are in place. 

Instead of waiting until the last minute to collect contact preferences and update your database, be proactive and use forms to ask your audience what their preferences are ahead of time. For example, if your contact downloads a gated asset from your website, they should have the option to opt-in to receive messages from you in the future. Or, if they are signing up for an email newsletter or other email communication, you can follow up with an email that asks them to double opt-in to confirm that they want to receive your emails. 

Collecting this information right off the bat will help you in many ways. To start, it establishes a good system so you’re ready when the time comes to deal with any compliance requirements. Additionally, knowing your contacts’ preferences will empower you to deliver more targeted communication, resulting in improved engagement and results down the road. 

Use Quality Data and Maintain Good Email Hygiene

Purchasing lists is a common practice that is, unfortunately, still used by many companies. The thing is that buying your contacts instead of building your lists organically is not only expensive, but it can prevent you from achieving your marketing goals and remaining compliant. 

If the emails you are sending to are not valid or the recipients have never indicated that they want to hear from you in the first place, you run the risk of driving up your bounce and SPAM rates. In contrast, if your contacts have willingly given you their information and indicated that they do want to hear from you, you’ll likely see an increase in engagement and conversions that will lead to tremendous growth for your organization. 

To continue improving your email engagement rates, you should routinely clean your lists and ensure all contacts have submitted their consent to receive communication from you before clicking SEND. If you’ve purchased lists in the past, there’s still hope, but you will have to take a few measures to ensure that the lists you are using are in good shape. 

To start, send an email to your lists to give your contacts the chance to opt-in to continue receiving emails and other marketing communications. Any contacts who opt-out or do not respond to your request should be eliminated from your database. If you want to take even more precaution, there are third-party vendors that can ensure that all the email addresses you are sending to are valid. Act-On, for example, integrates with NeverBounce, which allows users to easily review their lists, helping them reduce the number of hard bouncebacks. 

Make Sure You Have an Integrated MarTech Stack

Disconnected technology solutions not only create inefficiencies, but also open the door for compliance issues down the road. Tedious tasks such as having to download and upload lists from one system to another and manually updating user preferences leave a lot of room for error when it comes to executing your marketing efforts and being compliant.

When you add the possibility of being fined thousands of dollars, the last thing that you want is to accidentally email a contact or misuse their information when they’ve requested otherwise. Thankfully, these instances can be avoided if all your systems are talking to each other and automatically updating any requests and information. 

marketing automation solution that has an open ecosystem (as Act-On does) will ensure all your technology tools are connected and give you the flexibility to pick the best solutions for your team and organization. Taking the steps to invest in systems that are integrated will also improve efficiencies, results, and your team’s readiness for future changes and regulations.

Deliver Targeted Messaging 

A huge consequence of new privacy regulations is that organizations can expect the size of their contact lists to decrease. These regulations remind customers that they have the right to choose who they want to hear from, when, and how. Any businesses inundating their inboxes with unwanted messages will likely catch their attention and motivate them to unsubscribe. 

Businesses can avoid falling victim to this trap by ditching their one-size-fits all email strategy for more targeted marketing and messaging that speaks to their consumers’ interests and pain points. The time and work required to transition from a batch-and-blast email marketing approach to one that is more strategic might seem like more trouble than it’s worth, but it can be a quick and extremely effective process if your organization has the proper tools. 

A marketing automation platform that allows you to perform lead scoring and automatic list segmentation can significantly streamline the process of delivering personalized marketing and communications. You can use lead scoring to evaluate where your leads are in the sales funnel and determine the type of content you need to send their way to keep them moving along. As you uncover new information about your contacts, you can automatically segment them into lists and enter them into email nurture campaigns that pertain to their interests and stage in the sales funnel. 

That’s not saying you won’t have to put some work into creating personalized email campaigns and content. But once everything is up and running, you can focus  your time and resources on A/B testing and optimizing your efforts to improve results.