5 Habits of Highly Compliant Marketers: Practical Advice for Marketers in Regulated Industries

Take some time to develop the habits of compliant marketing. Know the rules and regulations for every industry, channel, and audience you work within.

25 June 2015


Compliant marketing habits aren’t just for regulated industries — they’re good business practices for everyone.

The need to share content and collaborate securely is critical in business today — and just as important is the requirement that all information shared be compliant. And this is especially important for marketers working on various campaigns across regions and with outside agencies and business partners.

In my last post, I walked through some good business practices marketers can implement to be highly compliant that supports the various dimensions of regulations: Industry, Channel, Geography, and Demographics.

In this blog, I will share five habits that I recommend all marketers (and really employees in any field) should follow to remain compliant in their day-to-day jobs. So without further ado, here are the five habits for highly compliant marketers.

1. Understand and follow all of the relevant regulations for the industries you work within

Be sure to understand the regulations that govern your industry or your clients’ industries. They can involve customer data, auditable processes, release or destruction of information and many other elements.

What about your freelancers and contractors? Often they’re not required to take the same training as regular employees. But they need to be just as compliant. Companies can be fined for the actions of their business partners, contractors and freelancers, related to data breaches or non-compliance.

2. Build compliance into your workflow and document your practices

Use subject matter experts (SMEs), but don’t rely on them exclusively; or else you may create a bottleneck in your workflow. For example, lawyers are busy people, but legal review is necessary. Handing content off to them that is essentially 100% compliant (and often pointing out the areas where compliance comes into question) will help speed up the approval process and get your message to market faster.

Make sure you have a policy in place and that you can document your processes as well as emergency mitigation plans. Your business partners — agencies, fulfillment houses, freelancers — must all adhere to the same compliant business practices that your company is. In most regulated industries, you must attest to that as a firm. A mistake made by a business partner can result in an investigation and fine against your firm.

3. Use secure solutions to collaborate

As a marketer, you cannot operate in isolation. You depend on internal and external resources to get your job done. In short, you must collaborate. But your collaboration must be compliant! Bad collaboration habits are hard to break. Unsecure email, FTP, sending files around on jump drives … these are hard habits to break. Many people do it everyday, but it can lead to sending the wrong file to the wrong person. Version control, PI, personal email vs. corporate email.

Take a look at your current practices with a fresh eye. Do you leave papers around your desk? After a meeting, do you erase white boards and remove handouts? Do you leave your laptop in your car? Do you read PI on the bus or train? Unsecure email, FTP, sending files around on jump drives… these are hard habits to break. How about using personal email vs. corporate email? Email can be an issue now even when it’s on a corporate platform — the Sony email hack continues to create issues for the company.

What happens when you send the wrong file to the wrong person? The Ponemon Institute research showed that more than six out of ten people report having accidentally forwarded files to individuals not authorized to see them. And those are only the folks that admit to it!

Version control issues can cause huge headaches for compliant marketers. Just picture it. You’ve run the whole campaign through all the right approvals, and then somehow, the wrong file gets sent out the door — the one that’s got issues. Issues you had spotted and fixed.

4. Find data that you can actually use to personalize and keep that data secure

Personalization is tricky. You are trying to balance the peak of delight against the valley of despair. If you go past the peak, your advertisement seems intrusive, creepy, or not genuine. The best thing you can do to avoid the valleys of despair is to provide preference centers where your customers and prospects come right out and tell you what they want.

It’s important to remember that just because a marketing campaign is compliant with regulations doesn’t mean it has to be impersonal. There are ways to deliver communications that people want without invading their privacy or breaking the rules.

In fact, personalization can actually help keep you compliant. For example, a marketer working for a financial institution can make sure an email sent to a customer in Toronto complies with banking regulations as well as Canadian anti-spam laws (CASL).

You can use technology to apply business rules according to the specific geography or demographics of the recipient, so you’re able to maximize the opportunity without dulling effectiveness due to regulations.

5. Consider the entire lifecycle of your content and over

The key here is to be able to assign the appropriate “rules” to each piece of content in the context in which it is being used. Being able to do that at scale and demonstrate compliance, should regulators come calling, will make your life easier. Think about each phase of content development and who really needs access to what and more importantly, why? It is ideal to be able to grant permission to access/edit/review/etc. at the file level, and maintain control over a document once it has been distributed outside your organization.

We tend to think about content in six phases – all of which have specific rules associated with them. Create the rules for each content type and then enforce them. Information Rights Management (IRM) is the key here. For instance:







  1. Brainstorming
  2. Writing and development
  3. Graphic design
  4. Publication
  5. Localization
  6. Repurposing

So, this summer, as you resolve to clean out your desk and get more organized, take some time to develop the 5 Habits of Highly Compliant Marketers. Know the rules for every industry, channel, and audience you work within





  • Build those rules into your workflows and get everyone involved.
  • Collaborate securely and be consistent about it.
  • Personalize wisely, so you deliver the right level of customization.
  • Consider the content lifecycle (because content and data have a long shelf life….)

If you want to learn more, you can access the full webinar here. What challenges do you face sharing information compliantly? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Lisa Cannon

Lisa Cannon

Lisa Cannon is a content marketing consultant with over 20 years of experience working with clients in technology, healthcare, manufacturing and professional services. As a creative writer, editor, and marketer, she specializes in using content to drive targeted action. She helps businesses in regulated, IP-centric and non-regulated industries build connections with customers and prospects by creating relevant, personalized communications that form lasting relationships. Above all, Lisa is dedicated to making complex, technical subjects easy to understand.