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Matt

March 15th, 2012.

The New EU Cookie Laws – What You NEED To Know – A Round-Up

What Is The Law?

The new directive is a piece of European Union legislation that has been adopted in the UK. The government have now updated the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which now means that the EU directive is now UK law.

This law requires all website owners to get consent from their website visitors before they can store or retrieve any information on their devices including computers, tablets and mobile devices.

The ICO Updated Guidance For Website Owners

When Does The Law Come Into Force?

The new law comes into force on 26th May 2012. A 1 year grace period was given from May 2011.

What Are Cookies?

Cookies are files that are stored on your computer or device that store information about the user, that websites can use and retrieve at a later date. This may be information such as personalisation options, search history, purchase history, log-in information, and browsing history.

What Are Cookies? – The BBC

Does My Site Use Them?

Almost certainly yes. 92% of UK websites currently use cookies in some capacity, and the vast majority are breaking the law. If you’re using website analytics software like Google Analytics, advertising networks, or e Commerce software then the overwhelming majority of these will be using cookies to store user information.

How Can I Comply?

In order to comply with the legislation your website must obtain explicit clarification before you can store information about them on their devices. An exemption has been made for cookies that are deemed to be vital to the operation of a website. Advertising, analytics and personalisation functions are not exempt however.

Must Try Harder On Cookie Compliance Say ICO – ICO News Release

Key points set out in the amended cookies advice include:

  • More detail on what is meant by consent. The advice says ‘consent must involve some form of communication where an individual knowingly indicates their acceptance.’
  • The guidance explains that cookies used for online shopping baskets and ones that help keep user data safe are likely to be exempt from complying with the rules.
  • However, cookies used for most other purposes including analytical, first and third party advertising, and ones that recognise when a user has returned to a website, will need to comply with the new rules.
  • Achieving compliance in relation to third party cookies is one of the most challenging areas. The ICO is working with other European data protection authorities and the industry to assist in addressing the complexities and finding the right answers.
  • The ICO will focus its regulatory efforts on the most intrusive cookies or where there is a clear privacy impact on individuals.

EU Cookie Law – 4 Examples Of Sites Already Implementing It – Malcolm Coles

EU Cookie Law, 3 Approaches To Compliance – EConsultancy

Cookie compliance: Econsultancy analyses the latest ICO guidance – EConsultancy

The Cookie Law And Google Analytics

For most non-e commerce website owners the biggest impact is going to be on sites using analytics packages such as Google Analytics. Google Analytics currently sets 4 automatic cookies.

Unfortunately there is no official statement from Google as yet.

Google Analytics EU Cookie Law – Cookielaw.org

Google Analytics and the EU Cookie Law compliance could vary from country to country within the 27 state member areas. The more likely cookie law analytics solution will come via modification of the current Google analytics code, and/or an add-on, special dispensation from the requisite ICO office in that country or a browser solution through Google Chrome for instance. The UKICO office has already published information on using cookies.In time, Google might ask site owners to update their privacy policy, browsers may be engineered to include a universal consent or opt out button, similar to Do-Not-Track (DNT). Admittedly anything is possible.

In the past the EU’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive applied to user data, and this was largely interpreted to relate to e-mail data storage. The  ‘EU cookie directive  builds on this – no surprise you might say in light of the huge increase of seller side platforms (SSP), demand side platforms (DSPs), retargeting, tracking, ad-optimization and real-time bidding and personalization.

Cookie Law – Anaylics Are Illegal, But We Won’t Prosecute You, Probably – Silktide

“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.”

“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.”

Google Analytics and The New EU Privacy Law – Advanced Web Metrics

 

How Will Compliance Affect My Site?

There are some probable negative affects of complying with the new law.

  • You may see increased bounce rates from adding warnings to pages, most of your visitors probably won’t even know what a cookie is.
  • You will lose valuable analytics data
  • Website personalisation will be affected
  • Other marketing areas such as email marketing and use of advertising networks will be altered

How the EU Cookie Law Will Affect Email Marketing – Cite

82% of digital marketers think the EU cookie law is bad for the web – EConsultancy

Stupid EU cookie law will hand the advantage to the US, kill our startups stone dead – Techcrunch

What Will Happen If I Fail To Comply?

There is a maximum £500,000 fine  if a breach of the law has caused “substantial damage or substantial distress. It is worth noting that there is a clear distinction to be made between first party cookies set for your own site and third party cookies often used to track behaviour across multiple websites.

“There will not be a wave of knee-jerk formal enforcement action taken against people who are not yet compliant but trying to get there”. – ICO Blog

Ultimately the decision to the actions that you take in order to move towards full compliance has to be your own after reading all of the facts and making a reasonable risk assessment.

EU Cookie Law: UK Government ‘break’ the law they imposed – Code Blog

Martina Martina

January 12th, 2011.

Some tips on using Google Adwords effectively

Google Adwords is a fantastic way of advertising your business online. However, the key to success with this tool is to properly optimise your advertisements so that they reach the intended audience – and you don’t end up paying over the odds.

There are some obvious ways to do this and some tips you may not have come across before, this post will outline both:

Effective keyword matching: With Adwords you can specify how closely you want your keyword to match the users query on the search pages by selecting either “Broad match” “Phrase match” or “Exact match” – Avoid broad match. Why you ask? Simply because under a broad match, if a user searches for a specific term such as “woolly hat”, your advert will appear whenever a search for “woolly” or “hat” is made in any order and even alongside other terms (such as woolly mammoth).

Trying dynamic titles: ‘Dynamic titles’ are an efficient way to improve your CTR and conversion rates. They work by causing the phrase that the user is searching for in Google (for example woolly mammoth), to become the title of your advert when it appears. This of course means that your ad is more targeted.

Landing pages are important: This is the first page a person will see when they click onto your advert and come to your website. You can make this any page you wish, however you should probably avoid using your homepage if your product isn’t being pushed there. Whatever page you do use, it is a good idea to optimise it with information about your product.

Quality control: Do – work on the quality of your advert and rely on its CTR to get you into the top spot. Don’t – on the other hand get into a bidding war with a competitor vying to pay whatever it takes to remain in or get into the number one spot. This is never a good idea because it is actually the quality of the ad that will shine through meaning regardless of the position your ad appears in, you can still gain the top spot if you get more clicks over time. The best thing about doing it this way is that you will still be paying the lesser amount of being second place, even when you climb to first place.

Keeping track of everything: High CTR do not necessarily mean success. Try not to fall under the illusion that because the CTR is high, you are making money. You could in fact be losing money. Using Google’s conversion tracking codes to link Adwords with Analytics is a good idea and will help you to understand how each keyword is performing so that you can optimise your campaigns buy getting rid of any that do not work well, and putting more time and effort into the ones that do.

Use the direct approach: Keywords such as “Bargain” “You” “Free” and “Deal” all speak directly to a user and sound enticing. Use these. This also works with ‘call to’ actions which are phrases that provoke an action from the user. Some examples include “Buy Now”, “Free Delivery” and “For a Limited Time Only” etc. Such keywords cause a sense of urgency and give the impression that the user must act quickly or lose out. There are many other direct ways you can talk to a user including the use of questions to engage them. This could work particularly well if you ask questions that aren’t particularly clear or answerable, for example “woolly hats or woolly mammoths?”

Spell things wrong: With Google’s “did you mean” feature it’s pretty easy to get away with the odd typo in a search and still successfully get where it is you want to go. The bottom line is, people spell things wrong, often. Take advantage of that by doing the same.

Stand out: Capitalising each word (not the entire word just the first letter) will help you to stand out. With competitors going after the same customers as you, this is almost essential.

Leave your number: This is beneficial for two main reasons. If your ad is seen, appears to have everything the user is looking for and has a telephone number, it could lead to a conversion if the user calls you up and completes a transaction. Also, you’d save on some money as you would have avoided the click! Bonus!

Rob

September 13th, 2009.

Avoid expensive rebuild costs and improve your existing site conversions

At business school I was taught the way to make money was to make our assets sweat. I think they meant to get the most out of everything you owned and to make sure it was being worked night and day to maximum effect.  And so at Datadial we try to do the same for our clients’ websites by making sure that they are focused on developing websites that maximise sales levels by being search engine friendly and that convert users in to buyers.

The usual reaction in squeezing more out of a website is to rush into a redevelopment exercise.  Redeveloping a website is expensive that is often undertaken on a whim and without real research into what is working and what is not on the current website. Indeed it’s often the case that the current site is perfectly capable of delivering many more sales and that it just needs refining to improve the user experience.

This doesn’t need to be an expensive exercise. The key to successful marketing is to consistently test and measure everything that you do. Delivering fantastic conversion figures is within reach for us all, no matter how small the budget.

Here are four ways that we have carried out for some of our clients to help increase their onsite conversions at virtually no cost.

1) Online surveys

What better way to really understand your customers than to ask them for direct feedback?  What is it that makes them want to buy from you rather than your competitors?  How did they hear about you?

Carrying out market research will enable you to build on what you’re doing well and make any necessary adjustments and help you to grow.  You will be surprised by how many people are willing to take the time to reply to surveys.

We recently did a survey for one of our clients Design911.co.uk which gave vital insight into user behaviour.  Coupled with Click Tracking report (see below) Design911 have been able to fine tune their website to respond to users’ expectations and behaviour.

Below is a sample of the survey results  that were produced.

des-2

des1-jpgdes3

2) Mouse tracking

Why do other sites make it so difficult to buy anything from them?  We’ve all experienced a confusing website at one point or another.  But could your site also be suffering from usability issues?  Find out where the sticking points are with Mouse tracking.

You may also find that users are trying to click on things on your site that are not designed to be clicked on.  We found this with Design911:

With design 911 we found that that very few people clicked on the middle of the page and that lots of users tried clicking on ads on the right handside of the page which were not actually clickable.  We found too that the search box was being under used as it was below the page fold and that users were taking at least 60 seconds to make a click on key navigation items.

des-click1des-click2

3) Study your analytics

It’s all too tempting to gloss over your analytics reports – these reports contain vital information which reveal where users are getting stuck, turned on or turned off.  Seems obvious to say it but unless you take the time to check what is going on on your site you will never be able to intelligently amend your site and measure the effect of your changes.

There is a mass of information to look at but here are 3 basic things to do

Check Bounce Rates: Bounce rates tell you if a visitor who has been directed to your site via a search engine or Adwords likes what they have found.  If they leave the site immediately this is called a bounce.  If this happens you need to question if you are showing the right products for the keyword search  and if you could provide better information, or if they had come via  Adwords, are your Adwords set up correctly.

Funnels: You can set up funnels to determine where people are dropping off over a series of pages (typically the shopping cart process).  Different funnels can be set up for different goals.

Compare to previous periods: There are a number of trends such as time on site, the number of keywords that you are being found for, the number of pages per visit that are good to compare from onen time period to another so that you detect trends.

4) A/B Testing

Having pawed over your analytics you can then start making intelligent changes to your site.  How will you make more people fill in your enquiry form?  How can you get them to add one more thing to their basket.  Take a look at the forms below and guess which one had the higher conversion rate.

lovefilm1

lovefilm2

This company carried out A/B testing on their sign up form and increased their conversion rate by 10%.

This is called A/B testing or Multivariate testing which we use to determine which images, copy and design most appeal to your customers and which version increases conversion.  You can have as many or as few variables as you like when creating your A/B testing.  Ideally you would set it up to automatically serve different versions of the page to alternate users but to save money you can do it on a week on/week off basis.

We helped Conference Genie increase conversions on their site by altering the sign up process.  Interestingly we did it by making their site more complicated.

Weirdly the problem on this site was that it was too easy to use.  Users could not believe that they could just dial a default number, punch in a code and start a conference call.  So we made the site appear to generate a specific telephone number and a unique code for them.  Turning a one step process into a two step process actually increased conversions.

conferencegenie2

Making small changes instead of wholesale changes was also recently backed by Peter Fitzgerald, who leads Google UK’s retail industry division.  He said that the whole area of analytics – that’s technical jargon for examining the ways that people navigate websites when they shop online – has taken on new importance to retailers.

Simple changes can make the world of difference, particularly since statistics show that 50.1% of online shoppers who place items in their shopping carts still do not buy them.

By subtly altering a website’s layout based on how people use it, websites can increase sales significantly.

“There is often a lot of unimportant information on the top of a web page. If you move this information out of the way it can make a huge difference,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

For example when Comet, the electricals retailer owned by Kesa, the listed stores group, removed two bits of text from the top of its web page (saying ‘top checkout tips’ and ‘you’re safe with us’ respectively), its conversion rates increased by 6.7pc.  “Online retailers are spending more time on analytics to see where things are going wrong,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

Department store group Debenhams recently tested the message and positioning of an online sign-up form for its Beauty Club.  Improvements to it increased the number of customers the chain signed up by over 89pc.  Little such tweaks are being made by online retailers as a means of gaining incremental sales. Experts say that the results of the small changes can be seen almost immediately.

Google’s Mr Brittin said: “By interpreting analytics data and continually testing their sites, retailers can really understand what consumers are looking for online. Often very small and seemingly obvious tweaks can boost sales significantly.”

All of the above exercises can be implemented fairly quickly and inexpensively.  However, don’t underestimate the time you need to truly get to grips with your findings.

By constantly analysing the results and carrying out appropriate changes you will be able to squeeze every last conversion out of your site without incurring expensive redevelopment costs.

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