Q&A | Keeping Records?

Dear EmailKarma.net

How long should you keep paper based opt-in proof? We currently handle some opt-in’s through offline joins and what is a recommended or required retention for keeping this data? How do other marketers handle this?




I’m not actually aware of any hard and fast rules about the length of time that you should keep the paper copies of your subscribers, I’d like to say forever but I’m not sure that is realistic for everyone.

Here are some best practices I can recommend:

  1. Keep the paper as long as you plan on keeping the subscriber in the program, or until they ask to be removed. Some promotions might only last 6 months and never be used again.
  2. Keep electronic copies and recycle the paper – Scan and store each user as you transfer the data into your program. Remember to name files according to the user for easy record look up at a later time
  3. Identify ways to have users enter the data electronically by your staff. Bring a laptop for the Trade show floor staff, Collect at your brick and mortar locations (POS), or point users to a web form.

#3 is probably the best recommendation as you will cut out a number of data entry errors commonly associated to offline data collection. I know many people have trouble reading my quickly scrawled email sometimes (and I know I’m not the only one out there – some people will do this intentionally)… Was that a 5 or an S, a 7 or a T?

Care to share any other tips for EmailKarma.net readers? Leave a comment or send me an email.

Author: Matt V - @emailkarma

Matthew Vernhout is a digital messaging industry veteran and Certified International Privacy Professional (Canada) (CIPP/C) with nearly two decades of experience in email marketing. Matthew is 250ok’s Director of Privacy, and he is currently the Vice Chair of the eec, after serving for several years as the Chair of their Advocacy Subcommittee. Matthew was recognized as the 2019 eec thought-leader of the year.

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  1. Where possible, it may also be a good idea to use a business card reader to help eliminate handwriting issues.

    Keeping the record, or a full electronic copy of the record, for the lifetime of the relationship seems wise in case of dispute.

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  2. Great idea Termaine – It works especially well for trade shows.

    I have also seen some trade shows that can scan your badge and read a predefined set of data (name, title, company, email).

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