The European Union has strict directives that prescribe how you can or can’t use or process personally identifiable information, like an individual’s e-mail or physical address. European data protection legislation is based on several directives to regulate the processing of personal data.
In all cases it’s required to obtain explicit opt-in permission from users, alert them to how you’ll use their information, who you are sharing it with, and how you’ll secure that data in a manner consistent with commonly accepted best practices.
For small business marketing programs, this can be a problem because of limited time, resources, and knowledge of these issues. To comply, business owners should consider the following strategies:
1. Use a company that has the online tools, education, and services to remain compliant.
2. Think of interesting ways to obtain an e-mail opt-in. It could be a free giveaway, a coupon for signing up, or showing people an example of the great information they will receive later in a newsletter. Invite them to an open house and capture interest there.
3. Use social media like Facebook or Twitter to connect with customers. It’s free and easy to use and learn.
4. Print a small ad on a postcard and send it to people pointing them to your website. Give them a reason to opt-in to your information.
5. Perform joint promotions with other businesses. This can save you money and, if done right, avoid issues with the directives.
6. Ask existing customers for referrals. Reward them for sending and converting friends into your customers.
Chief Privacy and Security Officer
Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.
To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.