Information is power. This phrase is especially true when it comes to marketing. The more information you have about your customers, the more targeted and effective your email marketing can be.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, 90 percent of executives depend on customer information for effective marketing campaigns and 79 percent said they would benefit from more sophisticated means to collect information.

As it stands now, there’s a variety of ways to learn about your customers. From social media platforms to loyalty programs, you can collect a lot of information about your target audience. While all of this information is valuable, some of your customers could be hesitant to share personal information.

“Fears about privacy are warranted,” says Mike Podlesny, who uses email marketing to promote his gardening business. “When a customer gives you information, they’re trusting you to keep it safe.”

Keeping customer information safe is vitally important to maintain your customer relationships. So how do you get the information you need and reassure your customers that their information is safe? Consider putting these five practices in place so both sides win.

1. Only send emails to those who give consent

Your email list can boost sales and brand recognition, which is all the more reason to treat your list like a member of your family. Nurture your customers, help them grow, offer valuable content and products, but only when they ask for it.

2. Be aware of the CAN-SPAM Act

There is a law that sets rules for commercial emails in the U.S., it’s called the CAN-SPAM Act. If you aren’t aware of the act, take a minute to familiarize yourself with the rules and make sure you’re complying. The rules focus on honoring opt outs and being truthful with email content.

3. Let customers opt out easily

No one wants to lose a potential customer, but it happens. While the CAN-SPAM Act says every email should offer a way to opt out, we also suggest making the process as painless as possible. Don’t make customers take surveys or force them through hoops; just make it simple. The more difficult it is to get off your email list, the less likely a customer is to come back later on. Plus, the CAN-SPAM Act has rules on what you can ask unsubscribers to do. VerticalResponse makes it simple, manages the information for you, and is CAN-SPAM compliant.

4. Offer a privacy policy on your website

You can build trust through transparency. Be open with your customers. Tell them exactly what you do with their information and the efforts you take to keep it safe, much like Podlesny does. On his gardening site, there is a page strictly for this purpose. It tells customers that information is collected to enhance the customer experience. It explains security measures and tells customers that their information will not be sold to a third party.

5. Don’t ask for more information than you need

Only collect what you need. The information you gain should make the buying process easier. If it can’t do that, you don’t need to ask for the information. By taking the time to ask the right questions and collecting only the information that’s useful, you’re respecting your customers’ time and privacy.

Customers respect companies that take privacy matters seriously. Show your customers you care, and you’ll be rewarded in the long run.

This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.

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© 2014, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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