If your company received notice that a marketing compliance audit would be conducted one week from now, would you be prepared?
As companies continue to move toward personalized, multichannel marketing experiences, safeguarding campaigns against industry-defined compliance violations is essential. Marketing compliance standards require companies to abide by advertising and marketing laws created to protect buyers from deceptive or unfair messaging.
In the mortgage and real estate industry, for example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) imposes the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule (prevents companies that offer mortgage assistance from charging upfront fees from customers before providing relief and requires specific disclosures in ads detailing key information about their services) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (requires financial institutions to disclose their information sharing practices, prevents mortgage providers from selling nonpublic personal information to nonaffiliated third parties).
The FTC also imposes specific marketing regulations for businesses around endorsements, environmental marketing, health claims, and online privacy. You should also consider the CAN-SPAM Act and Do Not Call provisions, depending on the channels your company uses to engage prospects.
Whether you see the necessity of compliance audits or not, it’s important to verify that the platform you use to produce, manage, and publish your marketing materials aligns with regulatory measures and that the future of your business is safe. Use the guide below to discover built-in auditing solutions your marketing platform should provide to help you pass the next audit with flying colors.
Recipient, sender, and disclaimer details are just a few data criteria your auditors may review. Using a marketing platform that can both deliver materials to your audience and provide a visual representation of sent assets is a smart move when it comes to audit preparedness. Due to the sudden and often unexpected arrival of auditing requests (as well as the expectation of companies to present data quickly) you need to be able to recreate those items as they were delivered without a lot of manual digging. Your marketing automation platform should provide an easy-to-access archive of past campaigns with specific details about each one.
As the impact of threats to internet security and reported cybercrime attacks continue to grow in both business and personal arenas, demonstrating that your company has implemented processes that secure your information assets will place you in a favorable light with auditors. Your marketing platform can support this effort further with features such as
- permission based access points,
- SSL encryption,
- and database encryption.
For any given reason, your marketing team may decide to end distribution of existing marketing materials, presenting another opportunity to fortify your audit preparation. Although those expired materials may not be relevant to your company, they contain information that may be relevant to your auditors. It’s important that data archiving takes precedence over deleting materials, since the latter option could result in unforeseen consequences like the inability to meet audit criteria when requested. For example, if you provided loan modification services, deleting marketing materials may eliminate the ability for your company to provide documented proof of compliance to the MARS rule. You would be unable to produce a historical record of your disclosure of service details within your marketing collateral.
Although your industry will ultimately determine which data should be stored and whether you need an archival system at all, put your mind at ease and verify that your marketing platform has an archival system that not only stores old materials but also allows you to efficiently retrieve them. A universal search feature is always a plus here.
Periodically performing internal marketing compliance audits allow your company to screen activity and resolve any deficiencies proactively before an external audit arrives. Omitting this process may save your company the immediate cost of hiring a compliance team, but choosing to remain ignorant of potential violations will likely cost more in the long run. You may be a risk of costly penalties, questionable legal standing, or even a complete closure of your business.
According to a recent supervision report released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), some loan servicers within the mortgage and education industry failed to provide legal protections to borrowers, such as providing accurate information, reversing improper late fees, and administering clear descriptions with financial statements. Transunion & Equifax had to pay back $17 million in restitution for improperly marketing credit scores and credit products.
To administer your internal checks with ease, review the reporting capabilities of your marketing platform. Is reporting flexible, allowing your team to pull information from multiple data points, or are you limited to pre-built reporting templates? If your company has a high-volume marketing output, can your platform accommodate your reporting frequency and breadth?
Reviewing these solutions will guide you to the marketing platform that best meets your auditing needs. With a penalty-free plan in place, you’ll welcome the next audit with open arms.
Brittney Blanton is an account manager for TOTUS, a complete marketing automation solution.