The exciting world of online marketing is growing bigger by the day, with millions of marketing professionals around the world trying to make a fortune for themselves in a digital age where the sky promises to be the limit. Despite the growing prevalence of online marketing in nearly every facet of our everyday lives, however, many aspiring online marketers are still unaware of some of the leading challenges and hurdles they will encounter in the industry.

One such issue is the legal problems you will encounter as an online marketer, which can be dizzyingly complex, daunting, and downright expensive to grapple with. Here are the three legal problems online marketers could run into, and what you will want to know before you encounter them.

1. Do not play fast and loose with customer data

Perhaps the biggest legal problem that online marketers could run into in the daily course of fulfilling their responsibilities is the mismanagement of customer data that leads to the violation of personal privacy and the breaching of several consumer data privacy laws. Recent developments across the European Union have thrust data privacy into the public spotlight, with such initiatives as the EUGDPR forcing companies all around the world to re-approach how they vacuum up and utilise data on web browsers.

Learning how to properly respect customer privacy and make use of big data without crossing ethical boundaries is going to become an increasingly essential part of the online marketer’s daily job. Every online marketing professional who does not realise that they have two choices –-respect consumer privacy or get burned–- will quickly find themselves culled from an industry that does not find itself very forgiving of data breaches. Those who are mulling launching an online marketing startup should consider the data protection steps they are willing to take, and those wanting to climb up the career ladder should focus on how they are championing customer privacy as they make a professional name for themselves.

Countless years of surveillance marketing has led many online marketers to believe that they can get away with anything as long as they are quiet about it. We are rapidly approaching a tipping point in cultural affairs where users and consumers everywhere make it loud and clear to companies that they find the invasion of their privacy to be an unacceptable deal breaker.

Also Read: A consolidation of digital marketing tricks for startups

2. Do not violate advertising standards

Years of being bombarded with advertisements offering everything from sugary cereal to automobiles have led modern consumers to push for false advertising restrictions that allow them to live in peace from marketing efforts. Nonetheless, marketing professionals have always prided themselves on their ability to push the envelope and pioneer new and more effective means of reaching their target audience. In the digital age, this has led many online marketers to violate advertising standards that are best left respected if you want to avoid a legal hassle that could end up costing you dearly.

When sending marketing emails, for instance, it is important that you know how to stay in line with established standards so that you do not violate the law or irk users with an intrusive message. You do not only need to consider the legal implications of shoddy email marketing, either; there are cultural implications to deceptive email campaigns that could end up harming your brand in the eyes of consumers. If you rely on misleading subject lines or pose as a friend of the person you are marketing to, for instance, you are likely to leave a bad taste in their mouth and get them angry at your deceptive marketing tactics.

You should consider setting some time aside to thoroughly review the FTC’s guidelines on comparative advertising, which is a tenuous subject that many online marketers pay far too little attention to. When it comes to helping one brand stand apart from others in the market, for instance, you cannot just make up whatever you want, yet some online marketing gurus think the digital nature of their ad-environment lets them do whatever they please. In reality, you need to play by the rules unless you want to get shot down by the authorities for misleading consumers with your zealous rhetoric.

Be upfront and honest when it comes to email marketing and other advertising standards if you want to avoid a common legal issue that tanks the prospects of some online marketers. Besides advertising, you should also be taking steps to ensure that you …

3. Do not make a fool of yourself on social media

The digital age demands that online marketing professionals are regularly browsing the leading social media platforms of the day in order to figure out what consumers are buzzing about, yet it is easy to make a fool of yourself on social media to the detriment of your business. Sometimes, you can mess up on social media to such an extent that you suffer from more than embarrassment – you can even face a lawsuit from poor behaviour on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.

Also Read: How online data is transforming market research

Using copyrighted materials such as music in your advertising on social media platforms is a common issue that tanks the financial prospects of many aspiring online marketers. Elsewhere, issuing suspicious promotions that include expensive giveaways can run you into legal trouble depending on where you are operating and whose jurisdiction you are in. Every online marketing guru should take some time to consider the common social media legal issues that startups suffer from thanks to a lack of preparation and foresight.

As you will quickly come to see, those online marketers who avoid legal trouble usually do so because the did their homework well ahead of time and knew what shady behaviour or illicit tactics to avoid. You may think that cutting corners is what it takes to generate a buzz and lure in consumers in this day and age, but in reality, transparency and honesty in your online marketing operations are more important now than ever before. Keep these three legal problems that online marketers could run into in mind, and you will soon be making a splash across digital markets without violating any laws.

Image Credit: Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash