Cookie Law Compliance

As you can probably tell from last weeks post on the subject, we are not overly concerned about these new regulations and believe that for most websites, a few simple changes should cover it for now. However, we are not lawyers so if you want to be 100% certain that you are compliant and have a website that has been developed in WordPress, we have found a great plugin that makes your site compliant even if you are using Cookies to capture personal information and target advertising. Click here to find out more The plugin only costs a fiver, and is very straight forward to implement. However if you would like us to add it to your site it for you, we are happy to do so at a cost of £50 + VAT including the cost of the plugin. If your site is not in WordPress, there are still some pretty simple solutions that certainly move towards compliance, give us a call & we would be happy to discuss the options.

Brain Teaser – Can I win at Russian Roulette? – THE ANSWER

The Question

Missed the question? Check it out here or go straight for the answer:

The Answer

Your best chance of survival comes by just pulling the trigger. Here’s why: The six chambers of the barrel are in the following sequence: E-E-E-E-F-F E = empty F = full Any empty chamber has just been fired by Chatty Man. This is one of the four ‘E’ slots. Only 1 ‘E’ slot is followed by an ‘F’ so, if you don’t respin,  there is a 25% chance that you will get a bullet next – or a 75% chance that you won’t. This is better than the 2/3 (66%) chance of surviving if you spin again so doing nothing to the barrel gives you the best bet. Of course if you remove the bullets then randomly replace them this again gives only a 66% chance of survival. Personally I just wouldn’t get involved!

Mobile Websites Survey – The Results

Last time we asked you to let us know what you felt the future held for websites on mobile devices. Thanks to everyone who took part in the survey. As promised, here is a summary of the results: The answers to questions 1 and 2 were not really surprising with over 92% of respondents thinking that use of mobile internet access will increase in the future, and 91% & having accessed the internet via their mobile in the last month. Given these answers, the results from question 3 were more unexpected. Only 58% having considered developing a mobile site. My guess is that most people within our sample group are running business to business websites, whereas their access of the mobile internet was possibly in a consumer context. Although mobile usage in consumer markets is more developed, there are still many benefits to developing a mobile site for B2B applications. However, it may be that there is no real benefit in developing a mobile version of your full website. Most mobile searches for B2B websites focus on 2 areas: Contact Details and Location Map/Directions. Focusing on these areas may well be a simple and inexpensive way of taking your B2B website onto a mobile platform. Whether or not it would be relevant to develop a mobile site is easy to determine through Google Analytics which will identify how many of your web visitors are accessing the site via a mobile device. If your website uses WordPress, the process need not be complex. There are several plugins designed to take your website mobile quickly and easily. Our final question was: “Is Mobile e-commerce relevant to your business?” Here the results were a quite clear: 70% of respondents felt mobile e-commerce is not relevant to them. Again, I believe this is most likely to be because most would be in B2B markets, where e-commerce may not be so prelevant. All in all, interesting results, which will certainly see us holding off in developing our mobile e-commerce offering, so thanks again to everyone who took part. If you are interested in discussing whether or not a mobile site would be relevant for you, feel free to get in touch. we would be happy to review this with you.  

EU Cookie Law – Impact on real world website marketing

I feel I must start this post with a disclaimer: “The content of this post is very much my opinion, and although I have done my best to state how I think this will affect real businesses in the real world, it is NOT legal advice, and should not be considered as such.” Next week (May 27th 2012 to be precise)  sees another EU law come into force. The law in question is the ” Regulation 6 of the UK Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003″ or “The Cookie Law”. On the face of it, regulation 6 states that if your site sets cookies on a user’s computer/smartphone/device then you must obtain their permission before you set them. Ow! But before we get too excited, we need to look at what the law it trying to protect against, and the detail of what it says. I believe that the law is trying to ensure that websites which collect personal data to be used for marketing purposes (eg serving targeted adverts), must obtain people’s permission before doing so. But cookies have many uses outside of this, most of which have no privacy issues whatsoever (for example analytics that track web usage anonymously, and do not contain any private data). Although both of these uses fall under the new law, I would hope that the ICO would focus on sites  using and abusing the former, rather than those using the latter, and my experience tells me that this will be the case. I recommend that you read ICC UK Cookie guide –  by the International Chambers of commers (ICC UK) on the subject. The guide is not long, is clearly written, and I believe gives a good analysis of how the new regulations should be viewed in the real world.

But what do you need to do?

If you are concerned, the first thing to do is to download and digest the guide. Secondly, talk to your web developer (if it’s us, we are happy to chat this through with you) and ask them how cookies are used on your site if at all. I would also make the following suggestions:

  1. If your site has functionality that requires users to create an account and to log in (eg an e-commerce site), make sure that you require users to agree to your sites terms and conditions when they create an account, and ensure that those terms and conditions contain the consent to collect & store cookies.
  2. If you use a “re-marketing service” for example Google re-marketing an another form of web advertising targeting visitors either on your site or after they have left it, then you will need to make visitors aware of this, and gain their consent to do so. The ICC Guide gives some fairly clear advice on how to respond if you fall into this category.

A Word About Analytics One of the most prevalent uses of cookies is Google Analytics. It’s use allows the anonymous tracking of visitors to a website in order to get usage & generic visitor data.  The cookies used by Google Analytics fall under the new law, and thus require express consent before they are set. Therefore, any site using Google Analytics after May 27th, and not obtaining opt in from users will technically be in breach of the new regulations. However the following statements put out by the ICO: “Although the Information Commissioner cannot completely exclude the possibility of formal action in any area, it is highly unlikely that priority for any formal action would be given to focusing on uses of cookies where there is a low level of intrusiveness and risk of harm to individuals.” and “Provided clear information is given about their activities we are highly unlikely to prioritise first party cookies used only for analytical purposes in any consideration of regulatory action.” Suggest that it is unlikely that they will prosecute sites for using Analytics, especially if you state clearly that you are doing so on your site. To this end, we have added a “cookie usage” page to our site. You are welcome to copy this and adapt this for your own use. Conclusion In the real world, unless your use of cookies falls into category 4 (according to the ICC guide) in that they are used to target & manipulate advertising, then a making it clear what cookies you are using, how you are using them and a rewording of your Terms & Conditions/Privacy statement should cover it. Again, the ICC guide give suggestions as to wording for different circumstances. I also believe that the ICO is reasonable, and will be looking to use persuasion rather than prosecution to enforce this, so in the unlikely event that you are picked up for a breach of the regulations, it is likely to be in the form of a nice letter suggesting that you look at and review your practices rather than a court summons! This said, I will finish by repeating my caveat that this is not legal advice. So if you are concerned if the detailed legalities then I would recommend talking to your legal advisor. Please note: this article refers to the impact of regulation 6 on websites and web marketing. Potential impact on email marketing will be considered in a future post.

Mike Longman – MD Longmark Tax Conferences

“BSA Marketing took the time to really get to understand our business. From the early days they had a clear vision of the benefits that an integrated online system would produce for us. They managed the development and implementation stages very effectively and have delivered a cost effective system that works well in practice  and can incorporate further functionality as needs and opportunities are identified. BSA continue to work with us to drive our conference administration and email marketing.”

Email marketing lists – To buy or not to buy, that is the question

Although a big focus of BSA Marketing’s work is helping you keep in touch with people you already know, there is no question that email marketing offers potential to make an initial contact as well. We regularly receive enquiries from people looking to use email as a cost-effective alternative to the traditional cold mailshot. A key issue for this type of project is getting hold of a target contact list which includes email addresses and is of appropriate quality. I am not going to go into the legalities of email marketing here as the rules are complex and, to a great extent, untested (call me if you wish to discuss) but needless to say, you must make sure that whatever your list source, you comply with the regulations. Interestingly, traditional Business to Business marketing list brokers have been quite slow to develop a strong email list offering with many of their lists few, or no, email addresses. Where their lists do include emails, costs are high. We recently sourced a list for a client who was looking for SME businesses in the North West of England (quite a broad spec!). The first list we found (from an established broker) contained 12000 records with email addresses – but was going to cost almost £5000 to rent. So are there any alternatives? Most of you will have received emails from a new generation of email list brokers who seem to offer big lists for (relatively) small prices. Continuing our search for SMEs in the North West we received an email from one of these specialist brokers offering 19000 records of North West SME businesses for less than £500 – 50% more data for 10% of the cost! Can this be for real? The short answer is YES! – but beware -all is not quite what it seems and you have some work to do. Here are some hints and tips for searching for B2B email lists: Before you buy: OK, so you have found a list source that looks like it fits the bill. Before you get your credit card out:

  1. Does the company have a UK address and landline telephone number? If not, don’t bother going any further
  2. Do a Google search on the company. If people have had bad experience, you may well find negative comments or reviews.
  3. Talk to the broker! A quick phone call both confirms the listed number works and gives you an idea of how they operate. Do they sound professional?
  4. What are the terms of use? Are you renting data for one-time or multiple use or are you free to use the data as you wish?
  5. Ask how they gather data. A professional company should regularly check data and make sure they get the necessary approvals to use the data.
  6. Ask for some sample data – and check it! The broker has complete control to give you the sample they want to but again it shows willing.

If you are comfortable that the broker and data are sound, maybe now you can consider buying the list. Remember you will almost certainly be asked to pay up front – though this is standard practice with most data companies. After you have bought the data: You will probably download the list or receive it attached to an email in a spreadsheet format. This can be useful as there are some more steps you should take to maximise the data quality:

  1. Check that all the records have email addresses! In practice some may not but it is important that the number of email addresses fits with what you thought you were buying.
  2. Check for duplicate addresses.
  3. Check for web-email or ISP addresses (e.g. Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, BTInternet, Virgin, Sky, Gmail etc) Our advice would be to delete these and not use them.
  4. Randomly select a few records and check the data – you can easily get a company website URL from the right hand part of an email address.

At this stage, if you have any doubts, I would seriously consider not using the list. Yes you have paid your money but I’d go back to the broker. You may or may not get anywhere! If you have followed our suggestions above, you may well find your list has shrunk somewhat (maybe by 50% or more) but the list will be better quality, more appropriate and, if you take all these factors into account at the start, still represents value. Now all you need to do is design your email, send it and wait for the response…. ….one final thing. If you decide to give this type of email marketing a whirl, PLEASE don’t use your regular email client. Use a proper email marketing system designed for the job – and make sure their terms allow you to use your list. By no means all do. If you have any questions or wish to discuss anything, get in touch    

Survey – Are mobile websites the future?

With the rise of the Apple iPhone and Android smartphones, there is no doubt that people are now accessing more information on the go, and everyone will tell you that mobile is the future, but is this really the case in the real world. To answer this question, we have decided to conduct a quick & simple survey. Its 4 questions, should take no more that 30 seconds to complete, and we will share the results on the blog in a couple of weeks. Hopefully you will find them as interesting as we expect to. [SURVEYS 1]

Brain Teaser – Can I win at Russian Roulette?

The answer is here – but do give it a go before you look. So I’m in ‘Nam playing a game of Russian roulette just like in the film Deer Hunter – that stuff really happened you know. It was brutal. I’m obviously trying to up my chances of winning, not least because the alternative is death but also because the alternative is death. Here are the details: It turns out that my rather unlikely and somewhat anachronistic adversary is none other than chatty man Alan Carr! Underneath all that front, he’s pretty rock so I’d better be on my best game. Using a standard six chamber revolver, Chatty puts two bullets into adjacent chambers, spins the gun and points at his head and pulls the trigger. Nothing doing – he survives and passes the gun to me. I’m allowed to do whatever I like from the following three options:

  1. Spin the barrel again and then shoot.
  2. Shoot without doing anything to the barrel.
  3. Open the revolver, take the bullets out, replace them in any positions, spin and shoot.

What’s the best thing to do? Clearly in order to minimise the chances of diversifying my head. Key facts

  • Russian roulette with a six chamber revolver
  • Two bullets in adjacent chambers
  • Chatty shoots first and survives.

Challenge To minimise his chances of dying, should I spin the barrel and shoot; just shoot; or reposition the bullets, spin and shoot? The Answer Drop us a line….

Creating a Google account without Gmail

Gmail is a great tool, but there are times when you may want to use some of Google’s other products without having resort to GMail. A good example is if you want to add analytics to your website (and you should), but want to use an address on your corporate email account (you@yourcompany.com) as the login. and the email that receives all the account notifications. To do this, you need a Google account, and although Google do not make this obvious, it is still possible to create an account on their system without creating a GMail account. You can do this via the following link: Create an account without a Gmail Account