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Looking Back at 2011 to Move Forward in 2012

  |  December 7, 2011   |  Comments

Steps that all marketers should take in the new year based on what we learned in 2011.

As 2011 draws to a close, naturally our thoughts race ahead to 2012 and plans for the new year. But we should also reflect on 2011 and think about what happened, what we did, and how we can improve. For email deliverability and privacy experts, there was no shortage of impactful crises, events, and policy changes this year. For me, there are some clear steps marketers should take based on what we learned and where we want to go in 2012 and beyond.

Perhaps the biggest impact on privacy and deliverability was from changes to and increased focus on laws about consumer protection and permission. For 2012, resolve to put in place a formal review of your programs to benchmark your opt-in practices to be sure you meet all legal requirements in the countries in which you do business. Also, identify who on your team is responsible for keeping up-to-date on existing and developing new laws. Not complying with regulations, such as Canada's new anti-spam legislation, can be costly.

Database breaches at ESPs and other organizations earlier this year should serve as a wake-up call to all of us in the industry. No company is truly safe from determined cyber criminals. Your customer data is one of your greatest assets and should be protected accordingly. Take a look at how your team shares information internally and with third-party vendors, think about who has access to what systems, and why, and make it a priority to educate internally about the importance of data security. Also, plan for the worst-case scenario. How would you handle a data breach if it happened to you?

Consumers are more aware than ever about the amount of information available online related to their demographics, purchases, and interests. They are also becoming more aware of cookies, tracking, and behavioral targeting and are polarizing into two camps: those that think the technology is cool, and those that think it's creepy. You want to show them that you're cool. Set a date to review your company's privacy policy, not only to be sure it is legally sound, but also to be sure it describes in clear, understandable, everyday language exactly how you handle customer information, both opt-in and transaction-related personally identifiable information (PII). If you don't have a preference center, get it on your agenda to create one. It doesn't have to be fancy, but should include basic categories and frequency options. This will be your best tool to increase relevance and build long-term customer confidence.

Focusing on these goals will help marketers make important strides in building trust and consequentially, be more successful by showing customers that the company values not only their business, but also the personal information that is shared during a transaction.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Buck

Rick Buck is vice president of privacy and ISP relations, CIPP at e-Dialog, a provider of advanced e-mail and multichannel marketing solutions. Rick works with clients, ISPs, and privacy organizations to promote best practices around responsible marketing. He is an active member of the Direct Marketing Association where he sits on the Ethics Operating committee and previously served as the Ethics Policy committee chair. Rick is also a board member of the E-mail Sender and Provider Coalition (ESPC). Prior to his current role Rick served as vice president, business lists and data for Harte Hanks.

Rick is an accomplished speaker and author on such topics as e-mail deliverability, privacy, and CAN-SPAM compliance. Rick has over 20 years of experience in privacy, acquisition strategy, database management, and Internet marketing. He joined e-Dialog in 2000.

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