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You know those privacy policies you see when you’re browsing websites, filling-out forms and downloading content? You know, the ones you tend to just click through without reading? Guess what? As a marketer, you need to pay closer attention to them because if you don’t, you could be in violation of the very important tools you use for your marketing initiatives. But let’s be honest, when was the last time you checked your company’s privacy policy? Is it up to date? But wait, my rant gets worse. How many of you have been thinking about writing one for years, but for some reason you’re just not doing it?

Bad idea! Now that I’ve potentially scared the pants off you, here are 5 things you need to know before you begin writing your own privacy policy for your business.

Customer Information and Storage

What information does your business collect and where are you storing it? As you know, there are many pieces of information that you need in order to be a great marketer and to stay in business. Also, here are some of the most common bits of customer information (Name, address, phone, business name, email, credit card information).

TIP: If your business is collecting data and being careless with it by not protecting it and/or storing it correctly, you are a prime candidate for violating your customer’s privacy – not good.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

Let’s first define what this is. I guarantee most of you marketing pros cannot define this perfectly and you need to. Make yourself familiar with the nuances of PII, because the safety and security of your customers depend on it. Here’s a definition of Personally Identifiable Information from The Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“Information which can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, such as their name, social security number, biometric records, etc. alone, or when combined with other personal or identifying information which is linked or linkable to a specific individual, such as date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc.”

Those Wonderful, But Intrusive Cookies

Marketing teams use cookies. We talk about them, we know what they are, why we use them, and we know the benefit of them for our marketing initiatives. And better yet, our metrics and jobs rely on them. Here’s the challenge. When you begin to create your privacy policy, you must think about cookie usage. For instance, tell the customer if you are using cookies and how you use them. Additionally, if your business is advertising online, on Facebook or any of Google’s offerings, you must be clear to your customer about your cookie usage.  

TIP: If you’re marketing is using Google Analytics, retargeting, display or any form of Google advertising, you must read this. Also, if you are advertising with any social media channel, make sure to comply with their terms and conditions and privacy policy. Yes, your own privacy policy can be linked to this form of advertising.

Privacy Acts

A privacy policy wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t address at least three of the important ones your business must be aware of. These are three topics your business needs to brush up on in order to be in compliance and keep your business out of hot water.

  • CalOPPACalifornia Online Privacy Protection Act: Requires commercial websites and online services to post a privacy policy
  • COPPA Children Online Privacy Protection Act: Collection of personal information from children under 13
  • CAN-SPAM Act A law that sets the rules for commercial email

Third Party Disclosure / Tracking

Consumers nowadays are cautious about giving away their personal data. They also want to know if the business they are interacting with online is protecting their data by not selling, trading or transferring their personally identifiable information to outside parties. Be very clear about explaining how your business handles this in your privacy policy. Additionally, you need to explain about how your website handles do not track signals. An example of this could be something like this. We honor do not track signals and do not track, plant cookies, or use advertising when a Do Not Track (DNT) browser mechanism is in place. Also, if your business is using SLL, explain why and how.

Now that you know a little more about the legal side of marketing and also making sure your business data collection, storage and usage is legal, you can get started by writing your own privacy policy. If your business wants to write a privacy policy easily, I suggest looking for free privacy policy websites like Rocketlawyer and freeprivacypolicy. Both of these are simple to use and can help you get one drafted in one day.

YourBrandExposed is designed to look at digital with an eye into the future using a creative, analytical, innovative marketing perspective. We’re a consultative and tactical resource for companies looking to leverage the power of digital, web, social and content marketing strategies. Contact us if you’re feeling the digital squeeze on how to best market your company.

Scott MacFarland – Chief Content Marketer | Digital Strategist

HuffingtonPost | Relevance | Natcom Global

Linkedin | Twitter: @scmacfarland


Photo Credit: Pexels (CC0) License


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