Wednesday 23 May 2012

Will Digital Marketing Crumble under new Cookie Law?

You may be aware that from May 26, 2012, the new EU Cookie Law comes into effect. What you may not be so aware of is that this law affects Email marketing as well as Website marketing. Are you ready, as the ICO is threatening substantial fines to anyone falling foul of the new regulations?

The crux of the new rules centres on how cookies and other tracking technology are used in websites and emails. This includes on-line advertising (Google Adwords and AdSense), Analytics and other stored traffic information. Most professional email marketing uses open tracking systems to monitor how recipients engage, for example if the email is opened, click-through rates and unsubscribes. Under the new rules, website and email marketers are supposed to
* Tell people that cookies are there
* Explain what cookies are doing
* Obtain visitor’s consent to store a cookie on their devise or track their engagement in the case of email marketing.

The BBC reported that a survey published in April by the digital marketing firm, Econsultancy, found that 82% of 700 marketers contacted did not believe the cookie law was a positive development. It certainly makes things more challenging. While opting into receiving emails makes perfect sense, asking for a second opt-in to accept tracking cookies could be a step too far. The ICO’s own research backs this up. Since asking its own website users to click a box if they agree to accept cookies from its site, it has reported that just 10% of visitors have complied.

However the law is the law, and while we can’t give any legal guidance on what you need to do, here are some best practice points to keep in mind:
* Get consent from current and new subscribers to track email engagement. 
* Include a message in your sign-up form letting subscribers know that you will be tracking email engagement.
* Include a Privacy Policy on your website that tells visitors what tracking options are being used, why you are using them and how they will be affected (or not).

For more information on Cookie Regulations, visit the ICO website.