It is expected that the much anticipated Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA) will have a significant effect on business for consumers and corporations alike. There are a number of practical steps that should be taken to protect both consumers and businesses, specifically regarding social media platforms.
There are three important laws and codes that marketers should familiarise themselves with when dealing with consumers on the Internet:
- The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Code of Advertising Practice
- The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (ECTA)
- The CPA
All online advertising will now be subject to the ASA code, as well as the two acts. Both acts also apply to any website, whether hosted overseas or owned by a non-South African resident, which performs a transaction with South African consumers. A transaction includes the supply, or potential supply of goods and services as well as the giving of information or advice for some form of consideration. Even if the transaction is free the CPA may still apply, depending on the nature of the services, advertisements or advice dispensed. The Act therefore applies to a wide range of products and providers, whether they operate from South Africa or not.
For example, if an advertisement or Facebook page recommended a specific product to a consumer, the CPA applies. While this is a debatable topic, every piece of advice given on the web needs to be treated as though the CPA applies to it. Marketers using social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter must err on the side of caution and take all steps to ensure they are compliant with the CPA.
Understanding the risks
The Act presents real risks to any business marketing their products through the Internet, with lawsuits, class actions and even criminal prosecution a potential and costly reality for a company.
Section 61 of the CPA imposes product liability on suppliers. In other words, if a consumer uses a product or service which would include advice dispensed, and by using the product or service correctly dies, becomes ill or has property damaged, then the supplier of those goods is liable for all the damages suffered by the consumer.
This means that if a customer follows the advice posted on a website or social networking site, and consequently suffers damages, whether by economic loss or illness etc, they can sue the website or social network or the member of the social networking site to compensate them. This also includes, among others, any medical costs.
This form of liability cannot be limited by the supplier in terms of section 61 and the website. Social networks and members of the social networking site must be extremely careful about what information they make available online and how the consumer must follow it. The same applies to online advertisements.
Confidentiality has become critical and is taken seriously by the CPA. If you give away confidential information about your communities you could be at risk of up to ten years in jail. If you find yourself in contravention of any other section of the Act you may be fined up to 10% of your annual turnover for the preceding year, or R1 million.
The CPA does not prohibit advertisements and dispensing of advice over the Internet; however, all website owners and social networking forums must be aware of the rights the consumers will have when dealing with them, as well as the obligations they will have to fulfill under the CPA regarding the quality and source of the information they provide.
If these standards are not met it will not make the activity illegal, but it will open the website to lawsuits, including class actions.
The following are selected fundamental rights available to consumers in terms of Chapter 2 of the CPA and broadly speaking are most likely to affect websites and social networks:
- The right to fair and responsible marketing
- The right to fair and honest dealing
- The right to fair value, good quality and safety
Again, it is important for website owners, social networks and members of social networks to familiarise themselves with the requirements for marketing and advertising as contained in the CPA.
Defining Direct Marketing
Direct marketing, according to the CPA, entails approaching someone, in person or electronically (for example, email marketing or approaching a LinkedIn business connection), for the direct or indirect purpose of promoting or selling goods or services, or even requesting a donation.
The use of the verbal approach in the definition is crucial. A related form of marketing is catalogue marketing (governed by section 33 of the CPA). Unlike direct marketing, this is a form of interaction between business and the consumer where a product or service is sold, but not in person, for example online shopping or retailing.
It includes an agreement concluded telephonically (if the customer initiates the contact), by postal order or fax, in fact, any instance where the consumer is not able to inspect the goods before making payment.
The supplier of the goods or services is required to disclose specific information such as license or registration number (if any), physical address and contact details, sales record information required by section 26 of ECTA, currency in which the goods are payable, delivery arrangement and their cancellation, return, exchange and refund policies.
A consumer may, within five business days after any goods were delivered as a result of direct marketing, send the product back to the supplier without reason or penalty, as long as the supplier is notified in writing or some other recorded manner. The supplier has to return any payment received from the consumer within 15 days of receiving the notification. Moreover, the consumer must be informed of this cooling-off period.
Restrictions on Direct Marketing
According to section 11(1) of the CPA, every person as part of their right to privacy has the right to:
- Refuse to accept
- Require another person to discontinue
- Or (in the case of an approach other than in person) pre-emptively block any approach or communication from those who are engaging in direct marketing.
Using direct marketing
In light of the above, there are several conclusions that can be drawn in response to websites and social networks.
- If a business actively approaches a consumer, even using an email address provided to it by the consumer, this is likely to constitute direct marketing and selling. This is something to keep in mind for any email or SMS marketing.
- However, this will nonetheless always remain a question of fact. If the consumer approached the business and left his email address with the business, actively requesting it to contact him, it is unlikely to qualify as direct marketing and selling.
- Therefore, any marketing which includes approaching a consumer should in all probability fall within the ambit of direct marketing or selling.
- Websites, online advertisers, social networks and members of social networks should therefore be cautious about their marketing strategies involving emails and SMSes sent to consumers.
- All websites (including blogs), online advertisers, social networks and members of social networks would be well-advised to set in place a procedure to facilitate any consumer requests to opt out of receiving any company communication, whether via email, a blog subscription, a Facebook page wall or Tweet stream.
Registration as a Direct Marketer
While this provision is not yet enforced, in the near future every direct marketer must register with the administrator of the registry, supplying all business contact details and the name and contact details of a person responsible for any applications lodged under this regulation. These details will need to be confirmed or updated in writing annually. Consumers who do not wish to receive any form of direct marketing will also be able to register with the body.
Three Steps to Limit Liability
Given the fact that under the CPA you must provide information of a certain standard, it is strongly advised that all websites and social networking sites and members comply with the CPA. There are three general steps that can be applied to each online platform to help limit company liability:
- It is important that all websites and social network members providing information clearly state and display who is dispensing the information and their qualifications, or authority to provide the content. This makes it a lot harder to hide behind a company brand or logo, particularly on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Any email newsletters or marketing should also include such detail.
- Include terms and conditions on your website or social networking page.
- Develop internal policy and processes within your company to help employees involved with company websites or social networks to advise consumers on how to opt out of communications, with simple step-by-step instructions that they can easily follow.
Today marks an interesting turnaround for online marketing agencies, companies and even individuals marketing products and services.
Online marketers have often thought of social media marketing as ‘permission-based’ marketing. According to the CPA, nothing is permission-based unless explicitly received in writing. Ensure that your online marketing efforts comply with the CPA by applying the above tips in conjunction with the details specified by the Act and regulations, as there are many other parts of the Act that may be relevant to your business. Download a copy of the CPA at www.polity.org.za and scroll down to legislation downloads. Use the report as a starting point to protect your customers and business.
Applying the CPA on Social Networks
- State clearly on the page ‘who’ is speaking. Facebook has now made this possible as an option to page administrators. Make use of this new functionality to show whom the administrators are behind the brand or page name. Click on ‘Edit Page’ in top right hand corner, click on the ‘Featured’ tab on the left hand side and finally click on the button ‘Add Featured Page Owners’. The Page Owners will be featured on the left hand side of the page under the number of people who ‘Like’ the page.
- In the page information (Info) make clear the qualifications or authority of those people posting on the page.
- Private messages in Facebook may constitute direct marketing, depending on the content of the message, if they were not prompted first by the member. Do not send private messages for marketing or direct marketing, unless prompted, or unless you follow steps 4 and 5.
- Set up Terms & Conditions in accordance with the Act on your page. A good place to put this would be a link under ‘Info’ or all the information under ‘Notes’. It is specified in the Act that these need to be in simple and very clear language, for the ordinary consumer to understand. In the Terms ensure that it is explained that joining the page amounts to explicit permission to receive posts on their personal wall and other forms of communication, for example an event invitation.
- Set up internal systems and processes to allow consumers to ‘opt out’ of your communications if and when they want to. Describe these in your Terms & Conditions.
- Make sure that your page advertising follows the requirements of the Advertising Standards Authority Code of Advertising Practice, the CPA and the ECTA.
- State clearly on the page ‘who’ is speaking. Ensure the person tweeting is listed underneath your company name or ‘handle’ to show who the administrator is behind the brand or ‘handle’.
- Make the qualifications or authority of the administrator clear on the page, either within the profile information visible on your Twitter page or embedded within the design elements of the page.
- Do not send direct messages for marketing purposes, unless prompted, or unless you follow steps 4 and 5.
- Set up Terms & Conditions in accordance with the Act on your Twitter page. Shorten the URL link to the Terms and include in your profile blurb.
- Set up internal systems and processes to allow consumers to ‘opt out’ of your communications if and when they want to. Describe these in your Terms & Conditions.
LinkedIn, YouTube & Forums
- Do not use the messaging feature within LinkedIn to send direct marketing messages promoting your goods or services.
- When offering business, product or service advice remember that if a contact follows the advice and consequently suffers damages, whether by economic loss or illness etc, they can sue LinkedIn, YouTube or the community forum and you as a member. This is applicable across all networks.
Gareth Cremen is an attorney at Goldman Judin Inc. Attorneys. He has extensive knowledge in litigation in the High Court and Magistrates Court, contracts, debtor recoveries, liquidations, sequestrations, advertising law, competition law and consumer protection law. Candice De Carvalho and Sarann Buckby are co-directors of Phatic Communications, a Johannesburg-based digital PR and social media agency that combines a strategic, creative and opportunistic approach with the setting of measurable objectives that assess, refine and improve on communication results that directly support business outcomes.
By Gareth Cremen, Candice de Carvalho & Sarann Buckby
10 Online Marketers To Watch In 2018
The more diverse your sources of news and inspiration, the better. These ten people can help get you there.
Online marketing requires experience, creativity and a working knowledge of the latest trends and technologies necessary to stay competitive in the modern landscape. And while there aren’t any shortcuts to gain more experience, there is a convenient way to stay up to date on the latest marketing trends and get inspiration for your creative campaigns.
That way? Following and paying attention to the best, smartest marketers in the industry.
With 2018 just getting started, I wanted to list some of my favourite marketing influencers, some of the most influential experts in the industry and some of the most promising creative minds to pay attention to this year:
The Best Conversion Rate Optimisation Tips To Help You Grow Your Business
Whether you’re the owner of a company, or an online blogger, knowing conversion rate optimisation techniques will help you immensely.
Conversion rate optimisation, otherwise known as CRO, is a 21st-century way to turn visitors to your website or blog into followers of your information or customers of your product or service.
Therefore, whether you’re the owner of a company, or an online blogger, knowing conversion rate optimisation techniques will help you immensely.
What Is Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO?
Internet marketing, or what some people call online marketing, is promoting your product or service on the Internet through the digital channels available. Driving traffic is to your website or blog is hard, but it’s something you need to do in order to sell your product or service, so the last thing you want is to leave money on the table.
Traditionally, from the traffic you drive to your blog or website, a percentage of that traffic will become your customers or followers.
CRO is conversion optimisation strategies that puts a focus on your blog or website to determine what small or big changes need to be made to convert as many of your visitors as possible.
It’s the classic case of not working harder, but smarter.
Changes such as a new headline, new sales copy, a different coloured CTA (Call-to-Action) button, and more, are tested for effectiveness. This helps you take out all the guesswork and make changes that are proven to convert more sales.
Techniques such as A/B testing, where you create two different landing pages and send the same amount of traffic to each, is one example.
At the end of the day, the version that receives the most conversion is the one you would choose. A site with significant traffic may successfully test over a shorter time. On the other hand, in order to get accurate data, a site with a smaller amount of traffic will likely need more time than a larger one for testing.
What Happens When You Convert More Visitors Into Customers?
It’s a no brainer, when you convert visitors into clients and customers, your sales increase, and that’s the number one goal of any company or business. CRO can help you grow your business by receiving the same amount of traffic that you’re currently receiving.
Technically that means that you can make more sales without having to spend more money on marketing.
That also means that you’re not focused on the number of traffic you pull in with a mind on percentages, but rather focused on making the most of the traffic you currently have which makes the most of your marketing efforts.
Not Utilising CRO Means You Are Leaving Money on The Table
Let’s say you’re a small company with a goal of R50,000 a month in revenue. Your job is to turn a percentage of your visitors into customers. Without the correct conversion rate optimisation strategies, you’re looking strictly at numbers. You find that 1,000 visitors turn into 50 customers with a revenue of R20,000, which is R30,000 away from your goal.
Without the correct CRO strategies in place, you would work to increase the number of visitors to your site. However, with CRO, you implement e-commerce CRO tips that result in those 1,000 visitors turning into 125 customers. That brings you to your R50,000 goal. Without performing conversion rate optimisation, you’ve left R30,000 on the table.
Now that you’ve reduced your cost per acquisition, or what you pay per sale or click or form submit, you can either invest more in advertising or just bank the profits. Now that you understand what conversion rate optimisation is all about, let’s have a look at some of the best strategies that can help you take your business to a whole new level.
20 Of The Best CRO Strategies
You can spend loads of money on a fancy website or blog, but if it isn’t converting correctly, you’re losing customers and sales. That’s why conversion rate optimisation is becoming the number one priority with websites and blogs in the 21st-century.
1. Create an Effective Headline
If you are trying to convert visitors into followers or customers from a specific post, then your headline is one of the most important elements. It’s not there for a hard sell; it’s there to draw your potential customers to your site so that they’ll check out your product or service.
Your headline must show people what benefit they will receive from using what you have to offer.
Keep changing up those headlines till you find a strategy that works.
2. Reduce Huge Blocks of Text with Bullet Points
The way you present the content on your website is crucial. Give a potential customer too much information, and they’ll leave your site with eyes glazed over. Any material you present should be not only easy to understand but short and to the point. One of the best ways to do that is with bullet points.
Bullet points create an organised presentation that keeps potential customers interested.
3. Include Your Contact Information
Significant changes can be done to your website or blog to increase conversions, but so can small ones. Include your contact information on your site or blog. This shows that you’re accountable and don’t mind being contacted, which can lead to customer trust and eventually sales. Include your phone number, email address, and even your mailing address.
4. Replace Phony Stock Photos
You know what a phony stock photo looks like. It’s the kind that you purchase from stock photo sites, and they’re the kind that you often see at more than one website. These types of photos look phony, and they reduce your credibility. Replace fake-looking stock photos with professional, unique photos or good quality photos that you’ve taken.
For example, instead of using a stock photo model with a cheesy grin, use a picture of one of your employees.
5. Use a Pop-Up Form
One effective way to convert visitors into followers and subscribers is a pop-up form. When visitors come to your side, a form pops up that encourages them to leave their name and email address, or just their email address, to become a subscriber. When you have a list of subscribers, you can then turn them into customers through newsletters, emails, etc.
6. Eliminate Unneeded Form Fields
A website or blog that is not user-friendly when it comes to form fields may not translate to customer conversion. A form field is where your customers type in their information. What is the bare minimum of customer information that you need? You ask for the name, but do you also need the company name, for example, or can you do without having a customer type that in?
7. Remove Automatic Image Sliders
Images that flash before your eyes automatically may look attractive, but automatic image sliders have been proven to create banner blindness and therefore, reduce conversion. Use static images instead.
8. Include Videos
Videos have proven to be effective in drawing visitors and turning them into customers. If your site sells fishing products, for example, include a video of an expert fisherman using one of your fishing poles. Make sure the video is no more than two to three minutes long and be sure to put one on your landing page.
9. Make Your Call-To-Action Button Pop
Here is another strategy that seems small but that may prove to be very effective. Alter your call-to-action or CTA button. For example, is it more efficient for your button to say “Download Now” rather than “Buy Now”? Is it better for your CTA button to be a bright red rather than a navy blue? By testing changes to your call-to-action button, you can determine if such a change will be effective.
10. Limit Your Call-To-Actions
If you have one call-to-action button on your website, that’s a wise choice. Too many call-to-actions can confuse potential customers and turn them off from your site. Put your focus on one effective call-to-action.
11. Have You Included the Word “Free”?
If there’s one thing that people love, it’s free stuff. What can you offer potential customers that are free?
For example, let’s say you sell psychic readings. Offer your potential clients a 10-minute free reading and display the offer prominently on the front page of your site. Chances are you’ll get a lot of conversions for your niche. Once you’ve drawn in customers with the free deal, you can better bring them to your paid services.
12. Match Your Landing Page to Your Ad
When your ad matches your landing page, the colour co-ordination and organisation can translate to conversions. In addition to the colour, the copy you use on your ad should match, in some way, with your landing page. So, when you draw potential customers to your ad, you gently move them to your landing page with no sharp differences.
13. Incorporate Trust Seals on Your Checkout Page
If there’s one thing that draws customers to a product or service, it’s trust. Incorporating trust seals on your checkout page and other places on your website is an excellent way to show that you are legitimate and to increase conversions.
For example, if you are offering dental products, a seal from a trusted dental association helps with customer trust.
14. Convey a Sense of Urgency
When you are promoting a product or service letting your potential customers know that a particular price will end soon, or that a product or service will only be offered for a limited, time greatly helps with conversion.
For example, let’s say yours is a site that sells cookware and you’re providing a crock-pot at a temporarily discounted price.
You would display on your blog or website a photo of the crock pot, along with content and possibly a video, and you would show the price and when the price ends.
15. Give Them a Money-Back Guarantee
There will always be a percentage of customers who are on the fence about your product or service. So how do you get them over that hump and create a conversion? One way is to offer a money-back guarantee and to display it where it can be seen.
Keep in mind that it’s good to put a time limit on the money-back guarantee to something like 30 days or 60 days.
16. Include Live Chats
Many companies are adding live chat prominently on their websites to answer customer’s questions in real-time. This is an effective solution that can lead to conversions. It allows you to take care of all a client’s issues to lead them into a sale. Many companies utilise chat apps to help with this process.
17. Retarget Your Ads
There are large and small changes that can be made to your website to increase conversions, but changes to the way you’re handling your ads could be done as well. Retargeting customers, can help increase conversions period.
When visitors come to your site, you create a customised targeted ad to get to them as soon as they leave.
If a visitor has come to your cosmetic store looking for an eye shadow, when they leave your site you target them with an ad for a different eye shadow in your line. The goal is to keep a visitor engaged with your product or service while staying top of mind.
18. Give Them Free Shipping
Shipping costs for a product can often make or break a sale. So, if there’s one thing that can contribute to conversion, it’s free shipping. Let your customers know that shipping is not a cost that they have to concern themselves with.
If free shipping seems unaffordable for your company, work with ways to cover shipping costs with your product prices.
19. Include Real Testimonials With Photos
One of the best ways to instill confidence in your product or service is with real testimonials. Have customers write testimonials of 50 to 100 words about your product or service and include a photo of the customers next to their testimonials. Include their full name with their picture.
20. Get Customers to Share Their Purchases on Social Media
These days, almost all of your clients are likely to be on at least one social media site. Encourage them to share the purchases they’ve made of your products on social media, such as Instagram.
Every time a customer buys one of your products or your services, automatically give them an opportunity to share and talk about what they’ve bought with a user-friendly share process included on your site.
The sooner you work on conversion rate optimisation tips on your blog or website, the sooner you’ll be bringing in customers in the most efficient way.
Customers translate to profits and profits translate to a successful company or business. CRO takes time, but with patience, your website or blog will see vast improvement in conversions.
Implementing 2 Advanced Google AdWords Strategies
Find out how Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only Campaigns can give you that competitive edge you need on Google AdWords.
Let’s explore two advanced Google AdWords campaign types: Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only campaigns. Give these two campaign types a try. They’ll let you squeeze even more from your AdWords account.
Dynamic search ads (DSAS)
Dynamic search ads are magical keys to reaching your customers. And the best part? Using them is easy once you master the setup.
What Are DSAs?
Google knows it’s hard to keep your campaigns perfectly in sync with your website. If you have an e-commerce site with thousands of products changing regularly, it’s a chore to be constantly creating new keywords, new ad groups and new ads inside your AdWords account.
DSAs were created to fill this gap. They let you show ads to excellent prospects who might be searching for items you sell on your site even if you don’t have a corresponding keyword for them in your account.
Why should you set up a DSA?
As long as you set a low cost-per-click, dynamic search ads typically have a decent CPA and provide additional relevant traffic. They’re also great for research as you get to uncover new search terms that people are using to find your site. (You can use this intelligence after the fact to add new keywords to your account.)
Let’s say you’ve just started selling wrought-iron fire pits on your e-commerce site but you don’t have the keywords for them yet in your AdWords account. A new prospect – we’ll call her Kim – is currently online searching for this by name. Kim types it in verbatim: “wrought iron fire pits.”
If you have a DSA campaign set up, you’re in luck: Google instantly recognises that you sell these but don’t yet have keywords for the purpose. Thankfully, you don’t miss a beat with Kim – Google shows her your Dynamic ad, then she clicks, comes to your website and makes a purchase.
How do they work?
It starts with Google regularly scanning your website and keeping an index of all its pages. When you’re starting out, you can choose to point Google to your entire site – we recommend this for your first DSA campaign – although later on you can target specific categories within your site.
Google knows what keywords are in your account and, more importantly, what keywords are not there. This means they can make accurate judgments about when to step in and show your DSA ads.
When setting up DSAs, Google creates the headline and you write the description. They choose the final URL and you set the bid.
Here’s how to set up a DSA:
- Create a new campaign. One of the options you’ll see is to create a DSA campaign. We suggest not using that as it would limit your options further along. Instead, create a new Search campaign with “all features.” Your plan will be to only use DSAs inside that campaign.
- You’ll need at least one ad group to hold your DSAs, and one is typically enough if you’re just starting out.
- You still want to be split-testing, even though Google chooses your headline for you. So, create two different DSA ads with different body copy in each.
- Choose the target. Start with the “all webpages” default. Save the advanced targeting for later.
- Add in ad extensions just as you would for a regular campaign.
Ongoing management of your DSA
Review your data. Keep an eye on the search queries Google chooses, particularly in the first few days. This lets you add any new negative keywords that you don’t want your ads shown for. And it’s a good way to identify and add new keywords you hadn’t yet thought of for other functioning campaigns. (You can add these new keywords as negatives in your DSA campaign, which forces that keyword traffic over to new campaigns in your account. Your DSA campaigns won’t be affected.)
These allow you to create search ads where Google shows your phone number rather than a headline. As such, they only show on mobile devices capable of making calls.
A person clicks on your ad, which starts the process of calling your business directly from their mobile, rather than taking them to your site.
Why use call-only?
Call-only campaigns force people to call your phone number rather than visit your site. If generating more phone calls is high priority for your business, call-only campaigns are worth testing.
How to set up call-only campaigns
Setup is simple. You can create a new campaign from scratch or just copy your existing search campaigns and change the ad type. Replace regular ads with call-only ads.
Tip: Google wants to see individual ad groups with a reasonable number of impressions at the ad group level. So a small number of ad groups with more keywords in each one – generating more impressions per ad group – will work better for call-only campaigns.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com
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