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Top 8 Data Security Practices Every Email Marketer Should Follow
How do you announce new product launches? How do you inform a customer that their order has been shipped? How do you promote a sale? ‘An email’ is probably the answer to all of the above. Despite new communication channels opening up, emails remain one of the most popular digital marketing channels. Email marketers see an ROI of up to $36 for every $1 spent.
However, email environments are susceptible to data breaches. Compromised email accounts can be used by cybercriminals to distribute malware, launch phishing scams, etc. This can lead to legal liabilities as well as permanent damage to brand reputation. Hence, brands must prioritize steps to secure email marketing data. Let’s take a look at the top 8 security practices for email marketers.
- Cultivate a data security-conscious work culture
Data security should not be assumed to be any one department’s responsibility. It is to be shared by the teams using the data as well as the IT teams. Hence, brands must provide training on good cyber security practices and secure data handling behavior across teams. Implement practices that encourage a data security-conscious culture.
For example, employees must be made aware of phishing attack indicators. Similarly, anyone using a business email address must know how to protect their accounts with multi-factor authentication. This minimizes the risk of anyone unknowingly giving malicious content a way to enter your database.
- Use a reputed email service provider
When choosing an email service provider, ensure that they offer security features like lowering the risk of man-in-the-middle attacks during transit. For example, emails must always be encrypted. This ensures that it isn’t readable by anyone other than the intended recipient even if a fraudster intercepts it in transit. Similarly, your email service provider must offer a robust spam filter and virus protection.
Avoid free options since they usually have very low-security protocols. Also, ensure that the platform updates its security systems regularly to address threats and vulnerabilities as they emerge.
- Implement measures to control data access
Not all hackers attack databases from outside the organization. According to a survey, 30% of data breaches involved internal actors. Hence access to your email database or access to the email account used for marketing campaigns must be limited.
Some of the security measures that can be implemented to avoid unauthorized access include passwords, role-based access and firewalls. Authorized users should be encouraged to create strong passwords with upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. This not only reduces the risk of a data breach but also protects customer data.
- Maintain clean email lists
Maintaining a clean email address database and CAN-SPAM compliance is a must for every marketing team. This not only ensures that emails are delivered to your customer base but also protects you from hackers. Good deliverability practices keep your emails from falling into spam traps.
Keeping a clean email list isn’t difficult. All you need is an email verification tool integrated with customer forms and the email database. This scans all email addresses against a third-party database to check that they are accurate, valid and in use. It also identifies throwaway email accounts and corrects simple typographical and syntax errors to reduce bounce rates.
- Leverage outbound email filters
Despite your best efforts and screening by multiple people, there may be instances when sensitive data gets included in an email campaign. As an added layer of security, deploy filters on all outbound emails to screen for such details. These filters can also scan emails before they leave the network for malicious content and hidden links to blacklisted destinations.
A good email filter will also be able to identify individual email senders, assess each sender’s behavior trends and identify suspicious patterns. This protects your server from being blacklisted and ensures legitimate email gets sent out.
- Perform regular compliance audits
In addition to checking email addresses for validity when onboarding new customers, email databases must also be audited regularly to weed out decayed data. For example, an email address that was once valid may no longer be in use.
Email addresses of customers who unsubscribe from mailing lists and bounced addresses must also be removed from the database. This ensures that you stay compliant with privacy regulations and improves deliverability.
Along with auditing your email database, you should also regularly audit all software, hardware and policies related to email marketing campaigns to keep your sensitive information safe from being misused.
- Back up data regularly
Apart from the loss of reputation, hackers can also take away a brand’s access to its own database. Data loss can also be caused by hardware failure or natural disasters. Similarly, a ransomware attack can make your company vulnerable to data loss.
The simplest way to lower the impact of cyberattacks on data loss is to back up your data regularly. Email data can be backed up on external hard drives or cloud-based backup solutions.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
To take security measures up a notch, consider using a VPN connection when accessing email accounts remotely. As far as possible, avoid using public Wi-Fi networks to send business emails. A password-protected Wi-Fi network is safer but still may not be enough to keep your data safe. Using a VPN hides your IP address and guarantees a secure server connection. This keeps fraudsters from accessing your network and intercepting your emails.
Summing it up
Email marketing revenue is expected to reach almost 11 billion by the end of 2023. As businesses increase the resources they invest in email marketing, they also need to invest in data security measures.
A ransomware attack could give criminals access to a company’s financial details, customer information, mailing lists and so on. It could put the business in serious trouble. Simple steps like validating email addresses to keep a clean email list, backing up data regularly, controlling data access, using secure email service providers go a long way towards protecting businesses from being victimized by cybercriminals.