Senny Boone is General Counsel for the Data & Marketing Association. She also serves as Executive Director of the Email Experience Council (eec).

DMA has led the efforts to ensure consumer privacy is top of mind for marketers for decades. But why? We know that crafting a privacy policy is one of the most important things you can do as an organization to share with your current and prospective customers, clients and business partners your current information practices. It’s a step oftentimes companies do not spend enough time on – to ensure their privacy policies are complete, accurate, compliant; and easy to “find, read and understand,” magic words in the compliance world.

We’ve taken the mystery out of what should be included, in our recently released Tip Sheet: How to Construct a Privacy Policy. We’ve given you a framework with easy-to-follow instructions on what to include as you formulate your own privacy policy and review with your legal counsel. We highlight pertinent provisions included in our DMA Guidelines on Ethical Business Practices, and major laws/regulations that you need to be aware of at the state and federal levels and internationally—think “GDPR” and “CASL”! Acronyms are annoying, but prevalent in the privacy world.

It’s not only important to convey what information collection, use, sharing, and data protection practices you employ, but, you should also make it “consumer-friendly.” Don’t put it in mouse-font sized legalese so that the average consumer is lost. And, it’s important for legal counsel to review your privacy policy to ensure it’s legally compliant. Make sure your communications professionals review it so that consumers easily understand what your practices are and how to contact you.

Another consumer-friendly tip: provide an online way for consumers to contact you whether it’s an online form or an email. In this digital world, consumers want the ability to connect with you in a fast and friendly-way if they have questions about your products, services or how to better manage their marketing preferences. The number one complaint DMA receives from consumers is honoring choice. Consumers and, sometimes even DMA staff, have problems contacting a company simply because the contact information is not available in the company’s online privacy policy. This is not a good practice.

Be Accountable! You can also include in your privacy policy statement that consumers can contact DMA to file a marketing ethics complaint if their issue is not resolved by your company directly. By providing an independent third-party dispute resolution provider in your privacy policy statement, you are earning consumers’ trust by ensuring transparency and accountability in your policy and in your network of influence.

If you are a DMA member and would like DMA staff to review your privacy policy, please contact us. We’re happy to review and make recommendations based on DMA & industry best practices; however, we will not certify your policy or provide legal advice.

Additionally, if you see a questionable marketing practice, promotion or offer, please contact us. This is part of our self-regulatory program to promote ethical and good business marketing practices. A privacy policy is the first step towards credible accountability—and keeping an eye out for bad actors will help the industry succeed!

For questions or comments, contact Senny Boone sboone@the-dma.org, or Lisa Shosteck at lshosteck@the-dma.org.

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