Today, Leah Hamilton from Terms Feed explains how to give your site a little “spring cleaning” to ensure optimum functionality and legal compliance, year-round.
Keeping your ecommerce store fresh and up-to-date is important to ensure that it functions well, meets customer needs, and maintains any legal obligations that you may have (such as intellectual property protection and privacy rules). By examining your ecommerce store up close once a year, you can avoid unpleasant surprises later on.
Updating Product Photos and Protecting IP
Refreshing product photos is something that you need to do at least once a year, and even more frequently if your stock changes often.
By providing accurate, up-to-date product photos, you reduce the likelihood of items being returned for not meeting the accompanying written description. Even better, you’ll avoid legal liability for misleading or false advertising. For example, take a look at these product photo comparisons:
In this image you can see that using flash has made the first photo look over-exposed and unappealing. The second photo looks softer and nicer, like a mug you would actually want to drink from!
These images show us how the same product can be presented in wildly different ways, depending on the photography. The first image is blurry, has awkward shadows, is off-kilter, and doesn’t look particularly mouth watering. The second image looks appealing: the lighting is good and the background has been digitally altered.
The above images are good examples of photography can enhance a product’s desirability. But when this is taken too far, you risk crossing the line into false advertising through misleading imagery. While unfortunately a common occurrence, this practice is unacceptable with regard to advertising standards. We see it most often in relation to fast food advertisements (and the often-disappointing real food). Take a look at this example:
You can protect yourself from these issues by carefully taking your own product photos or using a professional photographer to do so.
Protecting Your IP
Once you have created new product photos (whether on your own or with the help of a professional), you need to ensure that you protect your own intellectual property in these images. The type of intellectual property protection we’re referring to here is copyright.
Copyright protects your work from being copied or used by other people. Typically, a work must meet minimal standards of originality in order to qualify for copyright, and the copyright expires after a set period of time (some jurisdictions may allow this to be extended).
Different countries use different tests to determine when copyright “attaches” to a work, although generally the requirements are low. For example, in the UK, "skill, labour, and judgment" must have been put into the original work for it to have copyright protection. In every country that has adopted the Berne Convention standards, copyright is automatic, unless the jurisdiction also provides for a system of registration within that country. In that case, registration may be necessary to prove in court that you have a valid copyright, even though you might already have a valid (automatic) copyright.
Remember to take a look at what data you are still leveraging and using from the previous year. The first thing to do is examine whether it is still relevant and up to date.
Next, look at:
- who has access to the data within your organisation?
- do those people need to have access to that data?
- is the data still relevant to your purpose for collecting it?
- are your previous conclusions (from analysing the data) still relevant?
- are you still using the data in the best way for the current market?
- do you need to re-analyse the data to pull out new trends to create new business strategies?
One good way to do this is to send out an email to customers who have signed up, saying your terms have been updated. Here’s an example from Bitly:
Another way is to display a link on your website or blog. Take a look at this example from Southwest Credit:
The key thing to remember here (as established in the legal case of Roling v. E*Trade) is that it’s not enough to just upload a copy of the new terms to your website - you must tell your users that the document has changed or been updated.
Anti-Spam Compliance and Email Marketing
Finally, make sure you update all of your email templates and segment your marketing lists. Email templates can all-too-often be left behind.
Email Templates and Anti-Spam Law
Updating your email templates allows you to ensure compliance with anti-spam legislation, such as CAN-SPAM in the US, the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 in the UK, and the Privacy and Electronic Communication Directive in the EU. These laws cover what you need to do when emailing customers or potential customers to ensure that you are not sending unsolicited or misleading messages. We’ve covered this at PrestaShop before, in our holiday-themed article on anti-spam laws. Take a look at some of the key points here.
Remember that one of the most important steps towards compliance you can take when examining your email templates is to check whether they all include an unsubscribe link for any marketing messages that you send out. Another key feature your email templates need is the ability to customize aspects to ensure message accuracy. For example, make sure it is clear to those using the templates that they should change subject headers to reflect the content of the message.
Segmenting Marketing Lists
Segmenting marketing lists is important for high quality marketing, as it allows you to exercise a more targeted email strategy that is less likely to be viewed as spam.
There are several different ways to segment your customers. For example, you can look at natural groups such as sex, location, or age, or examine trends such as groups of people that have the same spending patterns. The important thing to keep in mind when determining segmentation is that you are not just splitting your customers into groups for the sake of it: remember that the purpose is to segment your customers into categories that make sense in terms of what affects buying behaviour. There’s no point splitting your customers into men and women if your data shows that their buying behaviour for your product is the same.
The primary benefit of customer segmentation is that it allows you to pinpoint which groups are the most and least profitable so you can create targeted marketing campaigns for each of them. This allows you to allocate business marketing resources more prudently, and in a more focused manner.
Re-examining your product photos, IP protection, data leveraging methods and privacy, as well as anti-spam compliance and email features can help keep your marketing messages fresh and your business practices legally compliant.
Remember to take a look at these key areas every year to ensure that you don’t let something fall behind. While it may appear to be a lot of effort, the benefits are more than worth it.