Email is a great marketing channel for any business. It remains one of the most effective ways to reach customers. But email is also widely used by hackers to spread malware, phishing emails, or coordinate other attacks against users.
This article will outline the most common security problems marketers face. It will also provide valuable tips for maximizing security for email marketing campaigns.
Common Security Problems for Email Marketers
Companies aren’t the only ones that know the value of email. There are hackers and attackers looking to get in on the action.
One of the methods email hackers love is posing as legit companies to trick victims, aka phishing. And yes, the name comes from “fishing.” Like the vast oceans full of fish, the internet is home to billions of email accounts.
The attackers set the hook (bait email) and send it to thousands of random email addresses. Victims will start crawling in just because of the sheer volume. With phishing attacks, victims may end up exposing their passwords, login information, credit card data, personal details, and other sensitive data.
Malware distribution is also common. Hackers may include malicious links or attachments in emails to get people to download them. It’s not uncommon for employees to receive this type of email.
Hackers aren’t the only ones who can create security problems for email marketers. Sometimes, the threat comes from within. Knowingly or unknowingly, employees can also be security hazards. They may use weak passwords, leading to business email accounts getting hacked.
6 Tips for Secure Email Marketing Campaigns
1. Invest in Security Software
To improve the security of your email environment, you need the right tools. Good security software will stop the spread of malware and other threats.
Before sending out emails, set up a firewall that filters the messages and ensures no changes are made to them. Hackers are capable of compromising your network without you noticing. They can easily modify emails and include harmful attachments. If your customers start getting infected, your company will suffer a significant blow to its reputation.
Another software that could be useful is a phishing detection tool. Phishing is the most common attack via email. Recognizing phishing attempts is critical for keeping company data safe.
To keep your email accounts safe, protect them with strong passwords and 2-factor authentication. The easiest way to do that is by using password managing software that generates strong passwords and securely stores them.
2. Use Reputable Email Marketing Tools
Using email marketing tools for designing and sending emails is the best way to make the process easier and more efficient. Tools, like Mailerlite, ActiveCampaign, or Mailchimp will guide you every step of the way in your email marketing journey, from creation to analytics.
Before implementing any tool, research its security measures. You should be able to contact the tool vendors and enquire about that. How do they manage your database? Who will have access to it? Once the data is out there, you no longer have control.
The repercussions of exposing personal customer data in such a way can be huge. Be very careful about the data you choose to share with third parties (and vendors).
3. Learn How to Encrypt Emails
Unencrypted email communication is dangerous for businesses as these emails can contain sensitive data about the business or its customers.
To make sure that your emails are only read by the right people, you must encrypt them. There are several ways to encrypt emails.
The most expensive method is enterprise encryption. It involves deploying a physical device or using a cloud-based application that allows you to send secure emails from server to server.
Asymmetric encryption is another method. It’s fairly difficult to use, so it shouldn’t be deployed in mass-marketing campaigns. With this method, you will create two separate keys to encrypt and then decrypt the message. The recipient needs both keys to read the message, making this method very secure but also hard to use. This is not recommended for email marketing.
Lastly, there’s the method called “Encryption in transit.” As the name suggests, the emails are encrypted while moving from one email server to another. This is made possible by a mail server configuration.
4. Implement Secure Delivery Practices
When you send an email to your customers, it goes through various anti-spam and anti-malware filters. For your campaigns to be successful, prevent your emails from getting flagged by these filters.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid finding yourself on email blacklists:
Have a proper opt-in system in place
Before sending anyone an email, you need to get their permission. The easiest way is through opt-in forms on your website. Customers should also have an easy way to unsubscribe at any time.
Use a dedicated IP address
When sending out emails, it’s best to use a dedicated IP address. Shared IP addresses may lead to complications caused by other senders. You can contact your ISP to provide you with a dedicated IP address.
Send to verified email lists
Sending to expired and unverified email accounts is an easy way to get yourself on an email blacklist. Not only that, but your emails will be a larger target for hackers.
5. Become GDPR-Compliant
In 2018, the EU passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR is a set of rules regarding data privacy. If your business operates within the European Union, you must be compliant. Check your local authority for which laws you must comply with to send emails in your region.
Some rules that are relevant for email marketers are:
- Having consent to send marketing materials to current or prospective clients.
- Reporting data breaches within 72 hours of becoming aware of them.
- Allowing users to enquire about where and how you’re using their data.
- Mandatory data protection officers are required to make sure the company is GDPR-compliant.
Email marketers gather large amounts of customer data throughout their campaigns. Mishandling data can have severe repercussions for a business.
Here are a few things that email marketers should do:
- Audit all customer data you currently hold. Analyze where it came from and who has access to it.
- Review current procedures for gathering data. You should be particularly careful with how you handle data on children.
- Consider hiring/appointing a data protection officer to maintain GDPR compliance. In some cases, this is mandatory.
- Document the legal basis for gathering customer data.
On the official GDPR website, you can find a thorough checklist that will help you make your company GDPR-compliant.
6. Educate Employees and Customers
Creating a culture of cybersecurity in the workplace will go a long way in making the company more resilient. No matter what line of business you’re in, you can become a cybersecurity ambassador for both employees and customers.
Education through training videos will make employees more threat-aware. They’ll begin to develop more secure habits when managing their own data and sensitive email campaigns. Including email security tips in your employee newsletters is good to keep the staff more aware.
Employees should be aware of:
- The importance of using strong passwords.
- The most common cyber threats.
- The sensitivity of the data they’re handling.
- Ways to spot suspicious activity (phishing emails, scams, etc.)
You can also help customers identify phishing scams by adding a disclaimer at the bottom of each email you send. The disclaimer should warn customers about popular email scams and how to avoid them.
Email is one of the first inventions of the internet. Yet, a few decades later, it remains a go-to method for marketers to communicate with clients. One crucial aspect of email marketing that isn’t talked about often enough is email security.
To maximize email security, use these email security tips. Encrypt your emails to prevent unauthorized users from accessing them. Finally, take a look at your email delivery practices to ensure they’re secure and up-to-date.