Online Business and Legal Landmines

Online Business and Legal Landmines – What to Watch Out For

Doing business online is full of opportunities. Access to a national (or international) audience, the ability to augment your ‘offline’ offering and an efficient way to spend your advertising and marketing dollars are all form ticks in the ‘pros’ column.

But while the ‘cons’ are limited, there are some basic tips and legal considerations to be aware of when you’re thinking about online business. Knowing them can help you plan properly and hopefully be aware of any avoidable (but potentially expensive) mistakes that could be made.

Intellectual Property (IP) – Domain Names

IP in online business is most likely to be your domain name, which is also known as your ‘web address’. A few things to note – just because you have registered a business name with a regulator, or even if you have a company, that doesn’t mean that you have any ‘right’ to the same web address.

So if your business is called Sunrise Furniture, and your registered company name is the same, there is nothing stopping another company buying the domain name ‘sunrisefurniture.com.au’. A competitor could even buy the domain name then redirect anyone who clicked on it to their own website, potentially costing you a customer.

In Australia domain names are ‘rented’ rather than ‘owned’. That also means that you’ll want to keep on top of when any renewals are due to avoid any dramas with re-registering a name if it lapses.

7 Customer Refund Rules That Every Business Owner Should Know

7 Customer Refund Rules That Every Business Owner Should Know

Hopefully, if your business is one which occasionally has to refund a customer, you have all the rules related to refunds in place, and therefore not require your commercial lawyer to represent you in a court case, due to a customer is suing you for a refund.

These rules are in place to not only protect customers but to protect businesses too, however, if they are not known or misunderstood, it can cause either party to feel they have been wronged by the other.

We have outlined the basics of each rule below, but please do not consider what we have written as legal text. If you have any queries about refunds, and their legal implications, please consult your commercial lawyers.

Rule #1: A customer is not entitled to a replacement or a cash refund, simply because they change their mind, and no longer want the item they have purchased. You might choose to have an exchange policy, but there is no legal obligation for you to refund because of a change of mind.

Rule #2: When the goods or services that you have sold the customer have a problem, then the customer is entitled, either to a replacement, or a refund. A replacement can be a like-for-like, or an alternative, if the customer is happy to accept it.

Protecting The Intellectual Property Rights Of Your Business

Protecting The Intellectual Property Rights Of Your Business

Many businesses, large and small, are creative, and by that, we are not just talking about those in the arts or fashion industries. Anything a business creates from a product to its logo can and should be protected, and this is something that your commercial lawyers can advise you on.

The umbrella under which designs, new technology, written material, artwork, branding, and so on can be placed is called intellectual property. Just as with any physical property you own, intellectual property can be stolen, and when that happens you have legal recourse which can be instigated by your commercial lawyer.

You could try to do so yourself but given the complexities of the law relating to intellectual property, you want the experts on this in order to ensure that your rights are protected properly. Part of those complexities is that different types of intellectual property are protected under different laws and knowing which is which, is something every business owner should know.

Whilst we are not going to turn anyone into a lawyer with the information that follows, at least we can give you a better understanding as to which protection you need for each of the three main areas of intellectual property.

How To Ensure Your Company's Confidential Data Is Kept Secure

How To Ensure Your Company’s Confidential Data Is Kept Secure

Whilst the internet and other technological advances have brought many advantages and transformed how we have done business over the past few decades, they are not without their downsides. One is data breaches and the stealing of private information, and undoubtedly many a business owner has made frantic phone call to their commercial lawyer asking for legal assistance after realising they have been a victim of data theft.

This is undetectable because of the penalties for business owners who fail to ensure that any confidential information which they hold for clients, customers, business contacts, and indeed their employees can be severe. There is also the fact that around the world the rules and the laws relating to data protection are becoming increasingly stringent.

One example of that is the European Union whose General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which were implemented in 2018, meant that it was not just companies within the EU had to get their house order, but any company from around the world who wanted to trade within the EU market of almost 450 million people, had to meet those standards too.

Planning for a successful integrated digital strategy Part 4

Benefits of A Customised Social Media Marketing Strategy Part 3

Increased Loyalty To, and Awareness Of Your Brand

Your customised social media strategy will have many parts to it, and each of them will add not only to the awareness that people of your brand, but it can also increase the loyalty that those who are existing customers or clients, feel towards it.

In terms of awareness, social media is a really effective way of achieving that. Bear in mind, your campaign is likely to be active in multiple platforms, and there is also the real possibility that a really good post or piece of content is shared, to the point of going viral.

To a local business that might not seem as important as it might to global business, but do not dismiss its impact though. Every one of those shares, even if from someone on the other side of the planet, is a signal to Google that gives your search engine ranking a boost.

As for brand loyalty, the more your customers are exposed to your social media posts, the more they will associate themselves with being one of your customers. Also, your customised campaign will have specific posts that help to cement that loyalty.

This is particularly important now, as the customers who are buying today now include the Millennial generation born between 1980, and 2000. These are known to be especially loyal to companies, businesses, and brands that engage with them on social media.

Planning for a successful integrated digital strategy Part 3

Benefits of A Customised Social Media Marketing Strategy Part 2

Increased Inbound Traffic

Online business has a currency, and that currency is traffic. Normally, the businesses which can generate the most traffic to their online properties, such as their websites, are the ones that are the most successful.

With that in mind, your customised social media campaign will be generating currency for your business, not in terms of dollars (that will come), but in terms of traffic. That traffic will be visitors to your website, that may have clicked there, or searched for it, having been exposed to some of the social media content that has been created as part of the campaign.

Planning for a successful integrated digital strategy part 2

Benefits of A Customised Social Media Marketing Strategy Part 1

Whichever business niche, sector, or industry you are in, any marketing campaign which is implemented to increase customers and revenue, needs to have a social media strategy included as part of it.

The reason why, is simply that 3 out of every 4 people use social media, and more important than that, the vast majority actually use and refer to social media before making an online purchase.

Now you may not be a local business where customers actually buy your product or service directly from your website. However, if you want them to take action that may lead to a purchase, such as filling out an online enquiry form, or calling you on the phone, then social media is every bit as relevant and necessary.

10 Red Flags That Should Raise Concerns When Assessing SEO Agencies Part 3

10 Red Flags That Should Raise Concerns When Assessing SEO Agencies Part 3

Vague Explanations of Their Processes

If an SEO agency is not prepared to give you an explanation of how they operate, then the question that needs asking is ‘What have they got to hide?’.

With a poor agency, the answer is going to be either they do not have any processes and thus the campaign will be a shambles, or they use black hat techniques and do not want to reveal that to you.

Little or Poor Reporting

As part of your research, you should be asking what the reporting from the SEO agency is going to be. Good SEO agencies will have detailed and regular reporting, which is what you want to see.

However, poor agencies who know they are not going to get results will shy away from giving you regular reports, and if that is the case with any prospective agency you are looking at, do not even consider hiring them.

10 Red Flags That Should Raise Concerns When Assessing SEO Agencies Part 2

10 Red Flags That Should Raise Concerns When Assessing SEO Agencies Part 2

Low Ratio of Staff to Clients

When speaking to a prospective SEO agency, always ask them about their staffing levels. One point here is that many agencies sub-contract out specific areas of the work, and there is nothing wrong with that, especially if they are giving those parts of the work to experts.

However, if an agency tells you they have 90 clients, 3 staff, and everything is done in-house, that should set alarm bells ringing.

That ratio means that each member of staff is servicing 30 clients each, and given the time necessary for proper SEO analysis, planning, implementation, monitoring, and adjustments, it suggests that each client’s campaign is getting hardly any time, if any, each day.

Negative or Poorly Handled Reviews

Presumably, you already know to seek out reviews and testimonials, but one other thing to look for carefully is how the agency handled those reviews, especially the negative ones.

As we mentioned previously, no business is perfect, and even the best gets it wrong sometimes. If they have an unhappy customer who has left a 1 or 2-star review, look to see if the agency has responded. If they have and have also taken full responsibility for their error, then that is a positive sign.

If they have simply ignored it, or worse, pushed back on the customer and started an online argument with them, they are not an agency you want to do business with.

10 Red Flags That Should Raise Concerns When Assessing SEO Agencies Part 1

10 Red Flags That Should Raise Concerns When Assessing SEO Agencies Part 1

When any business owner is seeking to employ another company to work for them or carry out some kind of service, it is normal practice to take some time to assess one’s options, and carry out a reasonable level of due diligence.

This should especially be the case when selecting a digital marketing agency, and there are number of reasons for that. The first is that carrying out SEO is a service which differs in several ways to many others, because the actions that the agency will undertake can actually change during the contract due to the nature of search engines and how they often ‘move the goalposts’ with little or no notice.

Another reason is that an SEO campaign is something that doesn’t always have a finite end. For example, if you employ a company to come in and replace the five printers that you have in your offices, once they have replaced them, set them up, and have them working, their job is done.

Compare that to SEO, where a campaign’s length is something that might not be defined due to the many external factors that can affect a website’s rankings.

You may be in an incredibly competitive niche where your competition is working every bit as hard to gain or maintain their rankings as you are. In that case, you may retain your SEO agency’s services for longer, or even on an ongoing basis to ensure your rankings remain high.

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