Ensuring Data Compliance In Email Campaigns: Best Practices

Shutterstock_322287521 Email concept with laptop and hands

According to the recently released 2020 State of Email, Fall Edition report from Litmus, email continues to be an integral marketing channel across virtually all industries. Email marketing offers brands and publishers a highly scalable strategy to engage consumers en masse, while still providing opportunities for personalization and targeted messaging. Many brands choose to work with third-party partners on email campaigns to reach new prospects due to the cost-effectiveness and scalability of email campaign options and audience targeting available. It's crucial for the success of any email marketing campaign to select a professional partner that prioritizes compliance and security. Internal data security and consumer privacy should be a priority for every advertiser, and confirming adherence to email compliance regulations, like CAN-SPAM, and ensuring proper external data security are crucial checkpoints in any email campaign partnership. The third-party email campaign best practices that follow can help set up third-party email campaigns for successful data compliance.


The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 requires that every email sent include a way for recipients to opt out of receiving future emails from the sender. In response to CAN-SPAM regulations, it has become standard to include a link at the bottom of each email that directs recipients to a page on which they may submit requests to unsubscribe from future email campaigns or set email preferences to specify the types of emails they’d like to receive. Typically, every email opt-out page or preference center page is located on a specific web domain, but opt-out domains can become compromised and flagged by email industry blacklists – for both warranted and unwarranted reasons. Best practices for setting up email opt-out domains include:

  • Using unique opt-out domains for each third-party email partner: For companies with medium-sized, tightly managed third-party email programs, or those with extremely low risk tolerance toward potential blacklisting, unique opt-out domains for each third-party mailer represents the highest level of security for the email program. If the opt-out domain for any mailer becomes compromised, the event will have no impact on any other mailer in your program. Email partners that prioritize email compliance, like DMS Performance Ad Market, in partnership with OPTIZMO, leverage unique opt-out domains to help ensure that advertiser clients and media vendors are protected.
  • Leveraging a cohort-based domain setup strategy: For companies with a larger breadth of mailers or those with a moderate level of risk tolerance, setting up cohort-based domains to segment new mailing partners and higher risk higher risk partners (including third-party mailers with higher opt-out rates or previous infringements) can be an effective strategy and limiting the potential impact from blacklisted domains.
  • Setting up proper opt-out domain naming conventions: Using random characters or words that don’t pertain to the advertised brand or website in the opt-out domain can help reduce the likelihood of blacklisting based on the domain name itself.


Shutterstock_411184843 Email Correspondence Mail Message Concept

The email addresses of users who have opted out of receiving emails from a particular advertiser should be placed into suppression lists, which are used to prevent future email messages from being sent to those email addresses, in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act and other global email regulations. Best practices with regard to use of suppression lists include:

  • Ensure proper encrypting of suppression lists: In order to protect suppression lists and prevent potential abuse of the lists, suppression lists should be encrypted before they are shared. In conjunction with OPTIZMO, DMS Performance Ad Market encrypts suppression files in MD5, meaning the opt-out lists of advertiser clients never become exposed.
  • Leverage suppression lists to maximize ROI in third-party email campaigns: For advertisers that utilize third-party email campaigns to broaden their exposure to new prospects or generate new customers, suppression lists can be used to opt out an entire database, ensuring only new prospects are engaged and new customers are generated. When pay-for-performance models are leveraged, opting out current advertiser databases can immediately boost email campaign ROI.


Shutterstock_759701224 Businessman showing protected email on the tablet.

Advertisers, third-party email networks and media vendors all benefit in a variety of ways by following email data security best practices, including:

  • Reduced risk of blacklisting: By limiting the activity on each opt-out domain, each domain may be less likely to catch the attention of blacklist providers, since each domain is included in fewer campaigns and fewer emails in total.
  • Reduced impact of blacklisting: If a blacklisting issue does occur on one opt-out domain, the impact is contained to just the mailer or mailers assigned to the impacted domain, minimizing overall campaign impact. 
  • Improved mailer activity tracking: By limiting the number of mailers assigned to each opt-out domain, it becomes significantly easier to determine which mailer was using a domain that was compromised, enabling advertisers and third-party email networks to take action as needed. 
  • Improved email campaign deliverability: Assigning fewer mailers to each opt-out domain should improve overall campaign delivery in the event of any blacklisting issues, as the impact will be isolated to just the mailer(s) on the affected domain.
  • Increased potential for higher ROI: Leveraging suppression lists to opt out an advertiser’s entire database in pay-for-performance email campaigns helps ensure only new leads and customers are generated, boosting email campaign ROI.

Are You Looking To Engage Your Audience At Scale While Prioritizing Compliance?

DMS Performance Ad Market helps advertisers connect with new customers and near customers with personalized and strategic, AI-driven email messaging campaigns at significant scale. Because we understand the highly regulated email environment and the importance of how brands are represented, we have invested heavily in our operationalized compliance focus, including partnering with enterprise-class compliance solution OPTIZMO to ensure adherence to email best practices for every campaign we run, delivering peace of mind for advertisers.

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About the author

Digital Media Solutions

Digital Media Solutions, Inc. is a leading provider of technology-enabled digital performance advertising solutions connecting consumers and advertisers within auto, home, health and life insurance plus a long list of top consumer verticals. The DMS first-party data asset, proprietary advertising technology, significant proprietary media distribution and data-driven processes help digital advertising clients de-risk their advertising spend while scaling their customer bases. Learn more at https://digitalmediasolutions.com.