With a quarter of compliance and legal experts saying their relationship with Marketing is “challenging” and even more admitting feelings of “us vs. them,” it’s no wonder many marketing compliance reviews suffer from inefficiency and frustration. Furthermore, solutions that address the needs of each team individually may only serve to aggravate an already complex process.

While technology can alleviate some aspects, it is vital to get compliance and marketing on the same page, to see impactful changes to the marketing compliance process. Insights from our study with Arlington Research* uncovered some of the key areas of conflict regarding this process from the perspective of legal and compliance, and highlights what these experts want their marketing counterparts to know.

#1: Compliance reviews are complicated

Although these departments may feel entirely separate, for businesses in heavily regulated industries, ensuring content compliance is deeply interwoven with marketing. Compliance introduces rigor and legality into procedures primarily focused on creativity, originality, and the art of grabbing attention. This juxtaposition can create friction — not just because the teams’ goals and priorities may differ, but because the individuals themselves often have a limited comprehension or empathy for one anothers responsibilities.

The Red Marker study found that 30% of compliance and legal professionals believe marketers misunderstand the compliance review process. Furthermore, 20% of compliance respondents feel that marketers don’t fully grasp what needs to happen and perceive marketing to underestimate the intricacy and complexity of the work.

The sentiment is similar among compliance respondents who had remained in the same role for 10+ years: 42% say marketers have insufficient understanding of the requirements behind thorough compliance reviews. However, among respondents with less tenure (five or fewer years) in their role, 36% identified lack of definition in the review process as a more significant challenge. 

It’s important to note that these survey questions emphasize underestimation, not inability. The challenge rests in the significant gap between the perceived responsibilities and priorities of each team, resulting in a reduction of empathy.

This specificity becomes particularly relevant as marketing and compliance attempt to align. It’s more constructive to assume unfamiliarity — and far more productive when searching for, and implementing, mutually beneficial solutions.


#2: Accountability is a challenge

Compliance teams want marketers to know that there are differing opinions when it comes to perceived accountability in the marketing compliance process. 

Compliance and legal respondents indicated a perception that marketing teams lacked accountability for compliance in their work, 15% viewed this as a noteworthy challenge. In addition, 80% of compliance respondents say that marketing’s response to external content concerns is to deflect the blame.

There is also misalignment regarding C-suite responsibilities. 75% of marketing respondents think compliance review direction falls to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or Chief Marketing Director; only 33% of compliance and legal teams agree, while 70% of compliance respondents believe this responsibility belongs to the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO).

This indicates two important considerations for these teams. First, compliance and marketing professionals are at odds on interpreting responsibilities between different C-suite executives — a problem that may “trickle down” or otherwise influence their interactions with one another. Second, although marketers primarily say the CMO is responsible for compliance reviews, they’re open to following the CCO (59%), indicating an interest in clarifying and collaborating on this matter.


#3: The relationship can always improve

Despite conflict between the marketing and compliance teams and their respective goals, there are clear signs that these professionals can function more effectively together. Many marketers certainly feel this way; compliance experts want them to know that it’s mutual.

81% of marketing and 89% of compliance professionals agree that compliance reviews need reduced subjectivity, highlighting shared recognition of procedural inefficiencies.

Similarly, 85% of marketers and 89% of compliance teams want to have productive conversations about compliance review improvements. Despite the reciprocal “us vs. them” sentiment, respondents indicated a willingness to work together, improve cross-team visibility, and ultimately improve their relationship.

The teams also agreed on fundamental risk management priorities, indicating that they share more values than they may have realized. 81% of marketers and 90% of compliance professionals agree that they should maintain an acceptable risk level rather than aiming for strict adherence to every rule. 

Interestingly, these beliefs tend to get stronger over time. Among compliance respondents who have a tenure of six years or more, 92% believe marketing compliance risk management is a team effort, but only 77% of less tenured workers agreed. 


Takeaways for marketing teams

In summary, compliance wants marketing to be aware of three points:

  • “Compliance reviews are more complicated than you think, but we believe you’re capable of understanding them.”
  • “We don’t see eye-to-eye with you on accountability — not in our own roles and not when it comes to C-suite responsibilities.”
  • “Your values may be different from ours, but we agree that we all need productive conversations, less subjectivity, and a mutual agreement to maintain acceptable risk levels.”

For marketing, this means there’s work to be done — particularly when it comes to understanding requirements, restrictions, and legal guidance. Some marketing teams may find that it’s helpful to focus on the “why” — a clear understanding of what’s technically being promised by risky language or what could happen if compliance reviews go astray. 

That said, marketers don’t need to be legal professionals to work more productively with compliance teams. The ongoing theme throughout survey responses was a call for mutual understanding and empathy — not necessarily more expertise. 

It’s also important to leverage shared experiences and frustrations. This helps put the focus on underlying processes, enabling individuals and teams to approach problems collaboratively instead of potentially taking issues as personal slights or criticisms of work quality.


Unite compliance and marketing with Red Marker

The first step in resolving the divide between compliance and marketing is to understand why it exists. each has its own objectives — and in many ways, it’s this conflict that allows them to stay flexible, innovative, and creative in a complex environment.

However, to keep that friction productive, both teams need a review process for content that provides all the necessary support. That’s where Red Marker comes in.

Our AI-powered technology automates marketing content compliance reviews, through fast identification and suggested remediation of content risks – acting as a middle ground where creativity and compliance can coexist — one tool for two teams. 

Want to learn more? Download our whitepaper for additional stats, insights, and tips for marketers and compliance experts alike.

*In 2023, in conjunction with Arlington Research, Red Marker surveyed 250 senior US legal and compliance and marketing specialists who are working in financial services companies with 5,000+ employees – including retail, business and investment banks and asset management firms. 

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