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Helpful Legal Tips for Restaurant Digital Marketing

In this day and age, who does not practice digital marketing? As overwhelming as it may sound, digital marketing is simply the promotion of your restaurant by utilizing all forms of digital advertising channels to reach your consumers. This includes the use of the internet, mobile devices and social media. Others simply call it internet marketing.

Marketing experts say that digital marketing has transformed the fundamental approach to restaurant marketing, and for as long as the internet continuously evolves, digital marketing will also continue to do so. And it’s proven to deliver. Restaurants who have poured enough efforts into internet marketing have had a steady stream of new customers that their waiters in low-priced and elegant restaurant aprons had to serve. The new world of digital marketing is said to be the best news there is to advertisers: the costs you shell out are directly linked to the results.

This technology, however, brings in new risks for restaurateurs—violation of trade and advertising laws. Such risks were laid out in a webinar held last August, entitled, “Navigating Marketing and Advertising Laws in a Digital Economy for the Restaurateur.”

“There are new internet marketing techniques, like group buying and social media, that are regulated by current Federal Trade Commission laws. To avoid million-dollar class action lawsuits that come up for deceptive advertising, restaurateurs have to involve their legal counsels in their digital marketing plans,” said attorney Nancy Derwin-Weiss.

“It’s best to involve your legal department at the early part, rather than later,” she said. “One great thing with digital marketing is that you have gotten hold of the best way to target your audience; the bad thing is it’s one of the easiest ways to get your restaurant into trouble, if you’re not careful enough.”

Privacy Policy

One important thing to remember is the importance of a privacy policy. More often than not, restaurants interact with their customers online and collect their personal information. You need to be aware that your company needs to have a published privacy policy that gives a description of the information you collect from the customers, and what you do with the data. Customize your privacy policy to indicate exactly what your restaurant does online. In gathering identifiable information, the lesser details you get, the more safeguarded you are. Do not over-promise – you can’t guarantee to people that you’ll never disclose their information. You just may have to share it if you sell your company, or for investigative reasons.

Registration Requirements

Again, the lesser details you get for your registration requirements, the better off you are. Limit the information that you get from your customers when they register for loyalty clubs, digital promotions, online orders or sweepstakes. The more details you get from your users, the bigger is your responsibility in securing all of it.

Terms of Use

Terms of use are equally important, as that’s a way to protect your intellectual property, along with other legal rights. Make sure your users tick the box which indicates their acceptance to the terms that you have for your website.

Consistency of email, website and coupons information

It’s highly critical that vouchers and coupons have detailed stipulations, like “one coupon per person per visit,” or expiration dates. These necessary wording should consistently reflect on all promotional copies, including your emails and websites.

Compliance with the CAN SPAM Act of 2003

Even your email marketing practices are regulated by the CAN SPAM Act of 2003, which was derived from the bill’s full name: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003. You can still send unsolicited emails, but your restaurant should be identified as the sender, the subject title should not be misleading, your mailing address should be revealed, and you should give the mail recipient an option to unsubscribe to your email. One of the most important conditions in the CAN SPAM is the suppression list, which lists all those customers who do not want to receive emails from your establishments.

Compliance with COPPA

Remember to abide by the rules of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which require companies to follow strict guidelines in marketing to kids who are below 13 years old.