Know Your Obligations: New Privacy Laws

Early this month, new privacy laws came into effect which affect all Australian business.

Apart from introducing 13 new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), the definition of “personal information” was also extended to include non identifying information such as cookies.

Businesses with a turnover of less than $3 million are exempted from the new principles unless they are dealing with personal information (in which case the Australian Privacy Principles may still apply).

So just because you have a turnover of less than $3m, it does not mean you are automatically exempt. Many smaller businesses trade in personal information without realising it. The key is to understand what constitutes personal information.

Additionally businesses with an annual turnover of less than $3m that provide health services, advertising and marketing services, or who contract to the Commonwealth government are not exempt.

Confused? So are we! It’s obviously hard to provide blanket advice unless you know more about a business and how it uses information.  So if you are still a small business and have a turnover of $3m or less, you should consult this checklist.

Serious fines of up to $1.7 million may be applicable so it’s important to take a little bit of time to make sure to get your privacy policies in order.

So what is personal information?

Personal information includes any information that could identify, or could reasonably identify, an individual.

This includes names, addresses, dates of birth and bank account details. So it may just apply to you if you are an e-commerce store or have an email list where you send newsletters to your customer base.

So what are these principles?

The privacy principles, which came into force on March 12 this year, are related to:

  • How you communicate and / or
  • Request, collect and hold people’s personal information within your organisation (this includes databases from 3rd parties overseas).

Importantly the definition of personal information has also been extended to potentially include anonymous personal information.

The changes affect how businesses can:

  • Handle and process personal information (for example, collecting personal data via forms).
  • Use personal information for direct marketing
  • Disclose personal information to people overseas

Does this impact me?

If you’ve been collecting personal data for the purposes of sending electronic direct mail, then yes it will impact you.

You may already be compliant, however it is worth reviewing your processes to make sure that definitely are.

  • Get familiar with the new Privacy Principles 

Find out if there is anything that might require changes or new procedures within your business.

  • Review your privacy policy & ensure you have documentation and processes in place

Review the list in the first APP to make sure you meet the requirements for your privacy policy.

Make sure you have a documented privacy policy.

Ensure it contains details around things like how you collect information, what you are collecting it for and how someone can make a complaint.

Make sure you have systems in place to manage compliance issues and complaints, and the relevant people are trained in using them.

  • Review your forms for unnecessary data collection

Check all your data collection forms and make sure you’re only asking for what you need. If you don’t have a clear reason for collecting it, you could be in breach of the Act.

  • Ensure that your Direct Marketing policies and procedures are compliant.

Review principle number seven which relates specifically to direct marketing.

There needs to be a simple way that people can request not to receive direct marketing.

You now need to include a “prominent statement that the individual may make such a request”.

  • Ensure security & secure disposal of personal information 

Include statements regarding the security, storage and disposal of personal information.

Make sure you use shred any personal information. Use a document destruction service if shredding and disposal in house is impractical.

Have a discussion with your IT team about data security. It’s important to be aware that privacy breaches most often happen through human error.

  • Cover off use of Cookies and Web Beacons 

Cover off how your website uses cookies and / or web beacons in your privacy policy. If you are using Google analytics to track visitors and / or conversions or using re-marketing, you will need to have this covered in your policy.

You should ensure you download and read the principles and seek advice if  you have any questions.

Where do I get more information?

This article is just a general overview of some of the things you should cover.  It should not constitute or replace any legal advice.

For further information, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has a fact sheet that you can download and determine if you need to comply.

The Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA), also has a nifty summary and a checklist which you can obtain for free (ironically in exchange for your contact details).

You can also contact the OAIC or seek independent legal advice.

Top 10 Digital Marketing Trends 2014

The Digital Marketing landscape evolves quickly – faster than most businesses can digest.

Since we live in this space, we make considerable effort to stay abreast of trends so we can stay at the cutting edge and help our clients.

Here is a list of the top 10 trends.

1. Pay to play

With social media maturing and adopting different models to monetize their platforms, it is likely that you will need to advertise on social media channels to boost engagement not only with your fans but to also attract new fans.

We have noticed a lot more competition in the social media advertising space as more brands advertise in channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

This trend also follows reports that Facebook have reduced the organic reach of posts so so page posts are less likely to appear in the news feed.

With businesses investing dollars into resources to support social media marketing, it’s likely that more money will be spent to leverage and get the most of the investment. So advertising costs are likely to rise.

It also a good warning to businesses to ensure that they don’t put all their eggs in one basket.

2. Personalisation

This is the year, many businesses will focus on providing their customers with a more personalised experienced. It’s an issue I remember grappling with many years ago when I worked on Coles Fly Buys loyalty program. So much data, how do you harness it? Unfortunately, much of the technology and systems were not in place to support the data captured at the time.

Businesses are now catching on.

Recently, I’ve noticed businesses like Coles provide me with a more personalised experience. Offers that are highly correlated with your shopping preferences are now delivered to your inbox on a weekly basis.

I love it and have found myself shopping at Coles more frequently as a result. Businesses that can harness this early will reap rewards.

The use of CRM, analytics and other marketing automation systems will help businesses improve personalisation.

3. Multichannel

In 2013, Google made a major change to AdWords which effectively forced advertisers to go mobile. While Google was criticised for revenue raising, there were some clear trends driving behaviour.

Consumers are using multiple channels simultaneously. It’s not uncommon to watch a television program and then look on a mobile device after seeing an ad on television.

Its not uncommon for consumers to find you via their mobile phone (maybe when they are on Facebook) and come back later to complete a purchase on their tablet or desktop computer.

Your customers decision making journey is multi-faceted. It’s important develop a strategy and be in the channels where your customers are likely to frequent. That doesn’t just mean being in the online space either.

Multi channel might make measuring the effectiveness of your campaign more problematic but it also provides opportunity to understand your customers decision making  journey and adapt to their changing habits.

Increased used of mobile channels means its critical  to ensure that your website is fast and mobile friendly.

4. Increased investment in analytics

Because consumers are using multiple channels from when they start their decision making journey to when they end it, it is becoming harder to attribute the effectiveness of different digital marketing channels.

Google introduced Universal Analytics during the year to counteract this but applications for use is somewhat limited right now unless a business is prepare to invest in technology to support measurement. Earlier this year we attended a Google Analytics conference where an an example of visiting a ski resort was sited.

Whilst it captured everyone’s imagination of what was possible, it’s use in real life was somewhat limited without the having the technology to support it (just like it was when I worked on the loyalty program).

However, we believe that this will change as new technologies emerge and prices decrease.

Keeping abreast of technology will be key in helping make the best use of analytics.

Additionally, integration of analytics with other business automation tools like CRM’s businesses grow.

5. Focus on email marketing 

With Facebook organic reach declining, continued changes to Google’s algorithm, and the continued rise of social media, businesses will return to focusing on assets they own and extracting more from those assets.

This is where email marketing comes to fore. The obvious cost benefit is that it is cheaper in the longer term to communicate and upsell products and services with existing customers (provided you keep satisfying their needs) than it is to acquire new ones. 

Allocating resources to improve email marketing effectiveness will become a key focus in 2014.

6. Conversion optimisation

Undertaking a process of making continued incremental improvements to your website will reap dividends.

With advertising costs in both Google Adwords and Social media rising, increasing the rate at which people buy will become more cost effective than increasing your advertising spend.

eCommerce and businesses wishing to generate leads via their website stand the most to gain from conversion optimisation. Key areas of focus are improved user-ability, more effective copy and removal of friction during the checkout of form filling process.

7. Focus on Content

Google’s Hummingbird update and focus on semantic search has meant that many traditional SEO tactics are now ineffective. Google are simply getting better at filtering search queries.

Therefore demand for content that provides real user value will continue to increase. This means that focusing on the customer experience and their decision making journey will be critical.

Having a strong understanding of analytics, a deep understanding of your customer along with a content strategy will help you develop your online assets.  Doing so, will also ensure you reduce your reliance of borrowing and paying for other peoples assets.

Last year I heard a prediction at a marketing conference, that a large corporate business might end up paying millions of dollars for a fully developed YouTube channel that supports their brand values and has an engaged audience.

The benefit being that it is faster and costs less to acquire engaged  viewers than to develop a channel from scratch. The same is true of a blog.

The reality is that content can be considered an asset. Apart from positioning your business as an authority, it is an owned asset that could also be sold to interested bidders.

8. Mobile Commerce

There will be a focus on reducing friction and at the point of checkout.  The introduction of mobile wallets (which store payment and shipping details) could improve conversion rates on e-commerce site.

However, there may be some barriers to overcome – namely security of payments via mobile.

9. Real Time 

There are a couple of ways to look at “real time.”

One trend is that businesses want to be seen as being nimble and responsive. They want to empower teams to be able to respond and react on their behalf but also manage risk. Its only two weeks into the new year and we have two conversations with organisations about this already.

The second area of real time is the integration of real time events with social media.

Its not uncommon to see television shows like the Voice, Q & A or even Big Brother show Twitter comments in the lower part of the screen. The concept of real time will extend further with marketers looking at strategies about how they can leverage real time better.

10. Visual communication 

The growth of Pinterest, Instagram & even Infographics last year was a surprise to many but when you think about it, it makes sense.   Visual images offer the advantage of being about to be read and digested quickly and easily – especially at a time when attention is scarce.

Using images with content will continue to be a critical success factor – use images in your Facebook posts, blog posts, and whitepapers.

Want to learn about other trends. Here are some useful references:

The Australian Shoppers New Path To Purchase

online shoppingA few weeks ago, I attended a Google conference where I was presented with some startling facts about the online shoppers path to purchase.

I’d seen the data before and whilst it made sense, it forced me to think more deeply about the topic.

The one key fact that got to me was 59% of shoppers start their shopping journey on a mobile device.  That’s huge.

I knew mobile was important. I knew that mobile smartphone penetration had grown from 50% to 65% in the space of one year.  I knew that mobile technology was (and is) disruptive.

We have even been preaching to clients about the need for a mobile website (and the need to make sure it loads fast).

But 59% – that’s a lot of shoppers. I know that there are still a heck of a lot of websites that are not yet optimised for mobile.  This a big deal. I wonder how many sales are lost on websites that are not yet optimised for mobile.

Businesses should not just plan to make their website mobile – they need to start now!

Smartphone penetration is high (and growing) – nearly two thirds of Australians now have smartphones. Consumers are using multiple screens in their path to purchase and mobile is the backbone to their path to purchase. Which brings me back to this presentation I attended.

Central to presentation was the fact that shoppers are multi-screening.

So what is multi-screening?

Multi-screening is a concept where consumers (your prospects) spend most of their media time in front of a screen – be it a computer, smartphone, tablet or TV.

In fact, 88% of our media time is screen based. The fact is, one device no longer commands our full attention.

Consumers can and do use these devices simultaneously.

Key facts about multi-screening

  • There are 2 modes of multi-screening – sequential screening where we move between devices and simultaneous screening were we use multiple screens at the same time
  • The device we choose is driven by context – i.e. how much time we have, what we want to achieve and our location
  • Computers keep us informed and productive, TV and Tablets keep us entertained and Smartphones keep us connected
  • TV no longer commands our full attention as consumers will use screens simultaneously but TV can be a catalyst for search
  • The portability of screens has empowered us to move easily from one device to another
  • Our attention is split between different activities on each device
  • We are multi-tasking and juggling different activities at the same time
  • Smartphones are the most frequent companion device  – they have the highest number of users and are the most common starting post for activities.

What this means for online shoppers?

  • 63% of consumers move from one screen to another while shopping
  • 59% started their journey on a smartphone – 52% of them continued on a PC while 5% continued on a tablet
  • 27% started their shopping journey on a PC – 19% continued on a smartphone while 8% continued on a tablet
  • 14% started their journey on a tablet – 1% continued on smartphone while 13% continued on a PC

And when they move between devices:

  • 54% search again on a second device
  • 47% navigate directly to the website
  • 28% via an email where they send a link to themselves

What multi-screening means for you?

  • Having a website is not enough. Your website needs to be just easily viewable on a mobile phone as it is on a tablet or a computer.
  • Your website needs to reflect the needs of your consumer on different devices AND in different contexts
  • The use of multi-screening means you need to enable customers to save their shopping carts as their search between devices progresses.
  • If you are advertising on television, it might be time to rethink your strategy and have an online strategy that support your offline activity.



Bon Voyage Google Reader

A few months Google announced that they would be killing off Google Reader.  The announcement was met with shock and sadness from Google Reader users around the world.

I was one of those Google Reader users.  Today, I wish to say a fond goodbye to Google Reader.

Our heartfelt thanks for keeping us up to date with the latest news, insights from AdWords, Analytics and Marketing.

Google Reader has been a dear friend.  May it rest in peace. We will grieve.

For those who don’t know the super awesome that was Google Reader, it was a syndication service that let us subscribe and read all to our favourite blogs and news sites without the need to provide our email address.

The beauty of the service was that our inbox did not get cluttered and we could filter the stories and just read the articles that got our attention.

Google’s reason for the closure was that not enough people were using the service.

That may have been true – the rise of social media has meant that people can get their news from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.

The trouble is, most of us cannot be logged in every minute to see the latest news and many of us don’t want to.

It also adds to the risk that the information we receive is selective and the risk is that we can operate in a filter bubble where we are no longer challenged.  If you don’t believe me, there is a great Ted Talk that speaks about this very issue.

Using a service like reader meant that I could set aside half an hour a day to sort through the latest news and ensure we didn’t miss anything.

It meant that we could stay at the cutting edge and provide our clients with the best service.

Luckily we can still do that.  Google’s announcement that they would no longer support reader meant that a number of other companies raced to develop RSS feed capability.

While there are a number of providers, we have replaced Google Reader with Feedly.

We are so relieved.

Although we will need to adopt to a new way of seeing the latest news, we have managed to retain all our old feeds with the Google Takeout tool.  Reader is set to retire 1st of July (yes today).

There is still a last minute opportunity for Australian’s to retain their feeds but only a few hours. Good luck.

Rest in peace Google Reader. We loved you.