June 16, 2023

Marketing Compliance: Best Practices When Marketing to Customers

Brands can more easily foster consumer trust and achieve success when they ensure marketing compliance as they reach out and market to customers.

While it can be challenging for compliance and marketing teams to ensure that their communications and collateral meet local laws and regulations, marketing compliance is a must. Not only is it essential for maintaining legal, ethical, and transparent marketing practices; but it can also serve as a way for companies to practice sound brand reputation management, inspire consumer trust, and ensure sustainable marketing operations. 

What is Marketing Compliance?

Marketing compliance is the adherence to laws, regulations, industry standards, and ethical guidelines in the execution of marketing activities. This involves ensuring that your brand’s marketing campaigns and tactics comply with legal requirements, industry regulations, and even your internal company policies. 

Why is this important? Marketing and advertising activities are subject to various laws and regulations, such as consumer protection laws, anti-spam laws, and data protection laws, like the CAN-SPAM Act, GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, and GLBA, or the Gramm Leech Bliley Act.  

By ensuring compliance with these laws and regulations, your organization can reduce legal risks that may result from non-compliant marketing practices and avoid critical data security and privacy breaches. Moreover, compliant marketing helps safeguard your company’s brand reputation, helping you build trust and goodwill with customers, stakeholders, and the general public.    

Marketing Compliance: Best Practices

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or GLBA, is one of the laws that business organizations have to be mindful of when ensuring marketing compliance. Here at ReviewTrackers, we work with a number of the world’s leading brands to ensure that their online reputation management strategy and marketing activities adhere to GLBA and other laws and regulations. 

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires financial institutions and organizations offering similar services to safeguard sensitive customer data and explain their information-sharing practices to customers. In addition to reforming the financial services industry, GLBA is designed to address concerns relating to consumer financial privacy.

GLBA covers a broad range of financial institutions, but it also applies to some companies that are not typically considered “financial institutions” but which engage in specific financial activities.

The act has several key provisions:

  • The Financial Privacy Rule. This rule regulates the collection and disclosure of customers’ private financial information.
  • The Safeguards Rule. This rule stipulates that organizations must implement security programs to safeguard and protect customers’ financial information. 
  • The Pretexting Provisions. This set of provisions is designed to prevent unauthorized access and use of customer information by accessing private information using false pretenses (e.g., phishing, social engineering).

One common application of laws like GLBA, GDPR, and the CAN-SPAM Act is the requirement for brands to obtain authorization or permission from customers to “market” to them. Whether you’re thinking of running a newsletter campaign for your most loyal customers, distributing forms so you can send pricing information to prospects, or sending emails and SMS messages asking for reviews, it’s essential to ensure that your activities align with the requirements of the law. 

Develop a Privacy Policy

Your privacy policy outlines how your company handles customer data and marketing communications. When you develop your policy, be sure to explain how your organization collects, stores, uses, and protects customers’ personal information and data. Also, make the privacy policy easily accessible by providing a link to it whenever you collect customer data.

Get Opt-In Consent, Offer Opt-Out Option

To ensure marketing compliance, always use an opt-in consent tool (in online forms, subscription signups, and in-store registrations) that gives customers the opportunity to actively agree to receive messages from your company. The checkbox should be unchecked by default to ensure that customers explicitly indicate their consent. 

Alongside the opt-in consent, it’s also essential that you provide customers with the option of opting out of or unsubscribing from your marketing communications. Make this opt-out process simple and straightforward, so that your customers can easily unsubscribe at any time should they decide to change their mind. 

Even after you put these into place, your team should periodically review and update your processes to align with ever-changing privacy laws and regulations, as well as customer preferences. Your company should also keep track of consent records to demonstrate compliance in case of inquiries or audits.

Be Clear, Specific, and Transparent

It’s important to let customers know exactly what to expect from your marketing communications. Are they going to receive promotional offers, product updates, industry news and opinion, or newsletters? How are you sending them messages: via phone, SMS, email, or direct mail? Make these as clear as possible, and ensure that the language you use to request consent is easy to understand. 

Respect Customer Preferences and Choices

Another important way of ensuring marketing compliance is to enable customers to manage their preferences and update their data and contact information. Allow them easy and quick access to settings where they can indicate or change their communication preferences, choose frequency, or withdraw consent and opt out. 

Final Thoughts

Consent is only one of the many aspects of marketing compliance. It’s important that your team is aware of and adheres to other relevant laws and regulations, as well as shows commitment to respecting customer privacy.

By practicing compliant marketing, you can minimize legal, financial, and reputational risks, as well as foster a healthy and transparent marketplace. Marketing compliance will also allow you to strengthen your brand reputation, inspire consumer trust, and ensure smoother and more sustainable business operations.

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