In today’s world, much of the interaction we do with each other is through digital means. From social media to email, blogs to newsletters, many of your association’s marketing efforts are most likely digital. Both communicating with and providing value for your members, while also bringing in new members is achieved through digital marketing efforts. Ensuring your association’s digital efforts are compliant with laws and regulations regarding privacy rights and data is vital to protecting your association’s reputation and also your members.
In recent years, privacy rights and data protection have become key issues in the United States and globally. In 2018, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was passed that “gives consumers more control over the personal information that businesses collect about them.” In 2016, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became law in Europe. Like the CCPA, this regulation aims to give consumers more control or personal information, but also addresses the transfer of personal information outside of the European Union and European Economic Areas (EEA).
Being informed of privacy laws and regulations and making sure your digital efforts are compliant will not only help avoid legal issues but will protect relationships and trust with your members. While there are many requirements within these regulations, we have featured below a couple of key areas to be aware of when it comes to making sure your digital marketing efforts are compliant.
Email marketing is a major part of what associations do to provide news and information while also recruiting new members. One thing to be aware of when it comes to email is that there are strict anti-spam laws in the United States that you must follow to avoid hefty fines and a damaged reputation. The U.S. CAN-SPAM act, according to the Federal Trade Commission, is a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.
This law can easily be followed by only including people on your email lists who have opted into your email program. A few more factors to this law are that you are honest with your headers and subject lines, tell the recipients where you’re located, and if the email is an advertisement that you make that clear. As before mentioned, offering a clear and easy opt-out is also required and once that action is taken, emails must promptly cease.
Follow these rules, act in an ethical and respectful way, and your email program will reflect your association’s values.
Member Privacy and Data
A big issue in today’s society is that of privacy and data. Who has the right to your data and what do those who get access to your data do with that information? These questions have been at the forefront of everyone’s mind with the rise of social media platforms and Google. Whereas you as an association may not have access to that level of personal data; members do entrust you with sensitive information such as their names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, credit card information, and more. Protecting this data also protects your association’s reputation and will lead to trusting relationships and increased membership.
One way you can ensure member data is protected is to make sure you have a secure website. According to Hosting Tribunal, nearly 33 percent of websites have inadequate security. An easy way to tell if your website is secure is to look at your URL in the address bar, if your website is an HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) website as opposed to an HTTP website, your website is encrypted using Transport Layer Security (TLS). Other factors play into website security such as regular website maintenance, updating plug ins, and ensuring your hosting company has good security offerings.
You should never share, sell, or make public any sensitive member information. This will not only put you in hot water with your members, but also with the law. Overall, ensuring you have a secure website and that you treat member data responsibly, you will protect your reputation and your member’s well-being while building lasting relationships.
Compliance is Key
Compliance with privacy and data laws is vital to a successful digital marketing strategy and also to protecting your members privacy and your association’s credibility and reputation. While we have not discussed all compliance requirements, these are a couple of key areas to be aware of. Government websites are a reliable source for reading up on these laws, especially those applicable to your geographic location, and checking to make sure your association is fully compliant.