If you've been in the financial industry for a bit, you know compliance is a big deal. Financial institutions must comply with a multitude of regulations based on several different acts issued by various government bureaus and commissions. Of course, compliance is essential to your company's financial health because it helps you avoid lawsuits and fines. But just as importantly, compliance is also good for your brand. It promotes transparency, trust, and a feeling of safety among your customers and prospects and helps them make accurate and informed decisions.
In short, all of the same regulations that have historically been applied to traditional marketing also apply to digital marketing. As the digital world evolves, however, the regulations may require a few extra boxes to check in order to maintain compliance. It can be challenging to keep everything in check, especially as it applies to many different platforms, including websites, mobile apps, social media, and even customer review websites like Yelp. Below is a brief list to keep in mind as you build your digital marketing strategy with compliance at the forefront.
Keep your website and mobile apps accessible
For any company, today, making your website accessible to people with disabilities is incredibly important. This makes your products and services available to everyone, regardless of their ability to see or hear. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all companies to work toward full compliance, which applies to websites, mobile apps, and email marketing as well.
To be ADA compliant, make sure your digital platforms can function with a keyboard and screen reader, and all images and icons have alternative text or hidden text describing the image (for people who are blind). To accommodate those who are deaf and hard of hearing, make sure all videos have closed captioning. For those with color-blindness, use a high-contrast color scheme, so it's easy to read text set against its background. This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to make your site ADA accessible, so start by running your website through a free web accessibility evaluation tool, such as the WAVE, to get an idea of where you can improve your accessibility. Remember to test your website with each change or update to be sure you aren't introducing any new issues.
Be honest and truthful
Assembled to make sure you are transparent, truthful, and honest with your advertising, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are a couple of the consumer watchdogs you don't want knocking on your door. According to the FTC, "Deceptive acts or practices are those that are likely to mislead the reasonable consumer and constitute a material practice." For all of your digital marketing content, ask yourself, "Could this mislead someone? Can I back this claim with evidence or proof?
Don't forget to include required language
While your messaging might be truthful, you can also mislead through omission of information. The Truth in Savings Act (Regulation DD) governs deposit accounts and requires specific information to be disclosed when advertising. Just like advertising deposit accounts, when it comes to advertising loans, Truth in Lending Act, Regulation Z has specific rules and trigger terms based on whether the advertisement is for an open-end or closed-end loan. Study both of these acts closely and create a checklist for yourself to make sure you include prescribed language where applicable.
Many federal laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, disability, religion, sex, marital status, age, and even genetic information. Make sure your messaging is inclusive and inviting to people of all backgrounds, abilities, education levels, and income levels. To do this, use language that is easy to understand and use photos and imagery representing diverse populations. This is true for employment ads as well.
Follow email marketing requirements
The CAN-SPAM Act, passed by Congress in 2003, establishes laws relating to "commercial electronic mail," better known to marketers as email marketing. There are many details in this act, but the main takeaways to remember are: be clear about who you are and that the email is an advertisement, and always provide recipients the opportunity to opt-out of emails. In doing so, you must provide a return email address so that people can request to be taken off the list or, more popularly, provide an "unsubscribe" link that allows people to change their email preferences. You must also provide your institution's physical address at the bottom of the email.
Choose an experienced partner
Navigating complicated advertising regulations can be a challenge. Hiring an experienced digital marketing partner like PRIME can relieve some of the burdens on your internal marketing team. We are efficient in maintaining compliance with all digital marketing campaigns for our financial institution partners. Let us help you by putting the ease back in digital marketing.
If you enjoyed this edition of PRIME Pulse, take a look at some of our other related articles:
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