Marketing compliance is probably the last thing you think of when working on a marketing strategy for your business. However, it comes into play with every single aspect of your marketing plan. If you’re driving traffic to your website, using paid advertising for your business, generating leads, or emailing your subscribers, marketing compliance needs to be looked into for each stream. 

The great news is that compliance practices can be easily implemented as long as you know what to do. We’re here to provide you with a deep dive into marketing compliance so you can get better acquainted with it and ensure you’re doing all you can to stay 100% compliant in your practices. 

What is Marketing Compliance?

Marketing compliance is the practice of ensuring that marketing practices, sales content, and data follow the laws and policies set in place by the government to protect consumers. Making sure your marketing practices are compliant can sound tedious and overwhelming, but compliance is an important investment to make in your marketing strategy and in building long-lasting, trusting relationships with your leads and customers. 

Why Marketing Compliance Is Important 

Keeping your marketing practices compliant is about more than avoiding hefty fines. Think of marketing compliance like any other marketing best practice – the rules and guidelines are there to help you build trust with your customer base and get the most out of your marketing efforts. 

For instance, you know that false advertising about your product or service is not only dishonest and illegal, but it won’t get you anywhere in the long run. False advertising may get eyes on your brand, but if it leads to angry customers and a bad reputation, is it worth it?

Marketing Compliance Standards to Know

Depending on your marketing strategy, you may be impacted by different compliance standards. Here are a few you should know about: 


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law that went into effect in 2018, protects the personal data and privacy of people in the European Union. The GDPR is law in the European Union, but it applies to all European Union citizens, regardless of where they reside in the world. So even if you strictly do business in the U.S., you still need to comply with the GDPR regulations, as European Union citizens could be perusing your site. And in turn, the GDPR also applies to non-European Union citizens who live in the European Union. 

The GDPR means that marketers have to be transparent regarding what they do with customer data, and you have to provide a way for customers to give you consent to have access to their data. If you’re using cookies to track users on your website or using online forms to collect user data, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper data privacy protections in place. This means letting site visitors know that your site uses cookies, having a consent disclaimer on your website forms, and ensuring your email list is opt-in only. 

Failure to comply is not only unethical; it could result in financial consequences. Google, for example, was fined $57 million in 2019 for not getting its users’ written consent to use their data for personalized ads. 


Using email marketing in your business? The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 set forth requirements on how businesses can correspond with consumers and other businesses. While GDPR regulates how businesses can acquire and use user data, CAN-SPAM regulates what must be present in an email – such as an option to opt-out of or unsubscribe from communication. 

Using reputable email marketing software will help make sure you have these protections in place for your email strategy.

Copyright Images

Creating images for marketing content is no easy task – especially if you’re a small business without a designer in-house. While it may be tempting to scour Google’s image search for the perfect picture, you could find yourself paying fines if you use a copyrighted image without permission. Instead, find an affordable stock image site like Adobe Stock or Pexels. Or, try your hand at creating images from a simple design software like Canva

How to Keep Your Marketing Practices Compliant

It may be time-consuming to keep up with all the updates on marketing compliance, but it’s necessary to maintain trust with your customer base. Plus, consumer watchdog and government agencies both keep a close eye on whether or not businesses are in compliance, so don’t think you can just fly under the radar. 

Because of the detailed level of work that compliance requires, it’s best to create clear guidelines for your team to follow. Here are a few tips (but no legal advice) on how you can ensure your marketing checks all the necessary boxes.

Stay Consistent in Your Branding and Messaging

One problem area businesses can run into is misrepresenting their business or products. Keeping your messaging and branding consistent across your digital presence is an easy way to ensure your team isn’t inadvertently sending a confusing or false message to consumers.

Get Permission to Gather Data 

Double-check your lead forms for GDPR compliance. Make sure that when a user fills out a form on your website that you’re transparent about how you’ll use their data. If you use cookies on your website, invest in a tool to let users know what you’re tracking and give them the option to opt out.

Keep Your Terms of Service Up-to-Date

Ensure that the terms of service that you’ve published and shared online properly state your responsibilities, liabilities, and disclaimers. Occasionally review them to ensure they’re always up-to-date. 

Put a Review Process in Place

You likely have multiple team members or even an outside agency or two publishing content or executing other marketing strategies on behalf of your business. Putting a review process in place to check those materials can give you peace of mind that you’re staying true to your brand and out of any compliance grey area.

Safeguard the Data You Collect

Since you collect customer’s personal data during onboarding, such as credit card numbers, birth dates, names, and emails, it’s important that you have a way to protect that information. For example, some businesses only allow people with security clearances to access sensitive information in order to protect it from getting leaked. 

To keep data secure and in one place, you can use automation software that will store customer’s information for you instead of storing it on your computer. This way, if you ever need to delete something, you can delete it in your software, and it is gone. If the information exists on a file on multiple computers, it will be difficult to assure a customer that their data is fully protected. 

And, if you receive personal customer data from the EU, make sure you brush up on the EU-US Privacy Shield and how it was recently struck down. 

Monitor Privacy Updates and Have a Protocol in Place

Policy changes happen periodically, and you should keep up with them to stay compliant. Create a marketing compliance group at your company and assign one of your team members to be responsible for keeping up with updates. 

If you make any changes to your terms and conditions, you are required by the GDPR to notify your customers. Those customers can decide for themselves if they want to keep their business with you based on those updates, but having a protocol for notifying them regarding updates is a must.

Ensuring that your marketing practices are 100% compliant is a challenging process, but if you break it down into actionable steps for your team, you can get there together. Take all the time you need to ensure that you’re compliant, updated on privacy changes, and protecting the data you collect on your customers.