Last checked: 03/06/2022

Promoting a business online

Online advertising and commercial communication in general will enable you to reach your audience directly, making it easier for you to enter the market and build a competitive business.

Forms of online advertising include web banners, e-mail marketing, social networking, paid search, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and blogs. If you chose to promote your business online using auxiliary services such as promotions, you must provide clear information whenever you communicate it with your customers. 

Provide transparent information for auxiliary services

If you decide to display commercial communication online (including promotional offers, discounts, premiums, promotional competitions or games), you must clearly indicate:

You must clearly specify when you are sending your customers unsolicited commercial communication by e-mail: for instance, you should include the word ‘advertisement' in the header of the e-mail message, so that your customer knows what it is without even opening it.


No direct marketing electronic mail can legally be sent without the express consent of your customers (example: they have ticked a box agreeing to receive unsolicited e-mails), unless there is a pre-existing business or commercial relationship.

Avoid unfair commercial practices

Commercial communication (including advertising and marketing) is covered by rules on unfair commercial practices.

There is a single set of common rules across the EU on what is an unfair commercial practice, so the playing field is level for everyone. Learn more about unfair terms in commercial practices.

ConsumerLawReady.euOpen as an external link is a portal created by the EU to bring SMEs up to speed on important aspects of EU consumer law. You can find training courses and discover more information about how your country applies the common EU rules on unfair commercial practices and what your obligations are in the EU country where you trade.

Remember to observe consumer protection rules

If you offer your products (goods, services, digital content) to a consumer in any EU country, then you have to comply with EU consumer law.

However, if your business sells to traders for professional purposes, these laws will not apply to you.


You cannot exclude or limit the application of consumer law by agreement. For example, it is illegal to write contract terms stating your intention to exclude or limit the application of consumer law. 

Need support from assistance services?

Get in touch with specialised assistance services

Do you have questions on operating a business cross-border, for example exporting or expanding to another EU country? If so, the Enterprise Europe Network can give you free advice.

You can also use the assistance service finder to find the right help for you.

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