We have become a digital society but we have also become a heavily regulated, law-suit happy society. It doesn't take too much effort to safeguard yourself against legal liability by following some simple steps when working with your online marketing strategies and presence.
Here are my Top 10 Legal Tips to Protect You and Your Website:
- Email Marketing Rules. The CAN SPAM act of 2003 does not ban unsolicited emails but it does outline some legal guidelines. You must identify yourself or your organization as the sender, the subject cannot be misleading, your mailing address must be disclosed, and an unsubscribe link or method/tool must be included. Most Email Marketing Software Solutions require and assist you in these requirements.
- Mobile Marketing Rules. The same basis premise and legal requirements discussed above in regards to email marketing, also apply to mobile marketing. Be sure to check out the provider who is helping you execute your mobile campaign and confirm that they are 100% in compliance.
- Deliver on what you promise. If you offered to send a free report, monthly newsletters, coupons, etc be sure that is all you send without asking for further permission or telling the consumer in advance what your intentions are. No less, no more.
- If your website includes member registration or eCommerce solutions, take security of the data VERY seriously. You cannot afford to have a leak or be the means by which an attacker obtains your customer's data. Hire a professional web service provider to limit your own legal liability and ensure compliance and top security standards.
- When it comes to collecting user data, less is more. Don't gather information unless you really will have a use for it. Street addresses for example are completely unnecessary unless you are going to send direct mail. Generally asking for a city OR state OR zip really gives you all the geographic information you will ever need.
- Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires strict guidelines to companies who are marketing to children under 13 years old. If you have any information on your site that could even be interpreted as being designed for youth; you must comply with COPPA in collecting information and that can generally require parent's consent. If you ask for birth dates, be sure not to save any user data with an age under 13.
- Be consistent and complete with coupons or printed offers. Be sure that all your printed coupons have an expiration date and all other terms that you intend to enforce on customers. If it isn't in print, it isn't valid. Be consistent across the board to reduce your headache.
- Prevent Complaints by being Accessible. Consumer will almost always try to resolve an issue with the merchant before filing any formal complaint. Be available and quick to respond to ensure complete customer satisfaction. Remember the customer may not always be right but you better keep them happy!