Every small business relies on the internet for marketing tools. Whether you’re using social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to market your business or you’re using email programs like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp, there are a lot of different ways you’re using the internet to market. The good news is the internet is ripe for the picking when it comes to powerful marketing techniques, and a smart marketing plan can be very successful without spending a lot of money. However, the bad news is there are still a few things to be cautious about when you’re dealing with the World Wide Web.

Data collection and privacy laws
While the United States doesn’t have one policy for privacy laws that affects every state and every business, there are some states that do have some legislation. California, for example, has the California Online Privacy Protection Act, requiring that you disclose the kind of information your website or marketing tactics will collect, how that information is used and how customers can view and change information you have on file about them. If you want to ensure security, then you can easily add a clickwrap to your website, which requires users to click on “I Agree” to your privacy policy before they make a purchase on your site.

Customer data
With the recent upgrades to cloud storage, you’ll also want to keep your customers informed of how you’ll keep their data secure. This is crucial to showing how trustworthy you and your business is, as customer data should be stored securely for all businesses. Security mechanisms like an SSL connection or the use of a secure cloud storage solution can prove infinitely helpful. You can easily set up a privacy policy on your website, require users to agree to it as they provide information and then keep that information in a reputable cloud storage system, and you’ll be protected from liability should any data be lost.

Intellectual property
Quite simply, if you’ve stolen an image or music from the internet, you’ve broken the law. When you go to a Google search for an image and then use that image in your marketing materials, you are stealing someone’s intellectual property. You can do a few things to help keep your business safe from any issues with intellectual property. First, you’ll want to search the U.S. Trademark Database to make sure anything you use isn’t already trademarked. Then, as you’re searching Google, do an advanced search and change the usage rights to “free to use, share or modify, even commercially” and you’ll know that any images you use are free and safe for your marketing purposes.

Everyone hates to be spammed. The anti-spam law in the United States covers a lot about what you can and can’t do, but basically you can’t use misleading information in the headers of your emails or subject lines. You must identify your message as an advertisement. You must tell people where you’re located and how to opt out of receiving more email from you. If you’re following those regulations, you should be covered for the anti-spam laws that are in place today.

This article was written by Deborah Flomberg for Small Business Pulse


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