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Intro and welcome from Mike Grehan.

Hi, and welcome to e-marketing-news.

Spelling and idiom. There's a place to start! An e-marketing newsletter, based in the UK, delivered internationally, using words, phrases and spelling which have to cut across all borders. Who'll ever understand it! And will they get the jokes? We had to think long and hard about that! It's not too much about the jokes of course. Working with this team, I soon discovered that we couldn't print most of them anyway. I took advice from a great Barrister I know. Anyway, it was mainly her jokes we couldn't print.

It's not often that you get free advice and thoughts from Barristers and University marketing experts in a newsletter. More than that, it's not often you get free stuff from the online marketing practitioners who are already succeeding and really happy to give their time, which is most precious to them.

However, there is a much more important partner on this team whose contributions outweigh the rest: and that's YOU!

We can have our "wobbly" start here, but the way forward depends on how much you take advantage of the resources which we can try to make available, in terms of our time and assistance, to provide useful, practical articles and answers to commonly asked questions.

No, none of us can provide free, personal consultancy. But, jointly, we can take some of the most burning questions and issues, try and work out the best answers and resolutions, and feed them back.

I've done a little "dipstick" research into the subscriber base of this newsletter by contacting a number by e-mail and trying to get a bit of profile. It was extremely interesting to note the very varying differences. Many people are new to the web and just starting their online ventures. And many are "seasoned" online ventures. With this in mind, we'll be touching on all aspects from the academic side, to the hands on practical side.

So, let's get started. Ralph Tegtmeier, AKA fantomaster is the featured 'practitioner' for this issue. He gives his own personal insight into the subject of "Cloaking" at search engines and gives an overview of the speakers and events at a major SEO conference coming soon to Amsterdam.

Rita Esen tracks-back contracting in the IT industry and explains how "shrink-wrap" agreements became "click-wrap" agreements on the web. This prompts the question: Do you always click the "I agree" box at a website, without reading the terms?

Richard Gay has sent many a graduate marketer into the world of real commerce and seen them succeed. With his expert background he's able to provide us with his own "thinking aloud" observations of both offline and online marketing techniques.

I've developed a simple model for online marketing under the "3 P's" banner. It stands for: Positioning; Permission; Partnership. Fundamentally, the three most important ingredients in your online marketing mix. Each will become self explanatory as we carry on.

Personally, for this issue, I've chosen 'P' for positioning to begin with. What a surprise I hear you say!

It's a bumper issue, so why don't you print it out and then find somewhere to relax and read it.


2nd Edition. MarketingSherpa. A review by Mike Grehan.

Back in 1997, Danny Sullivan, largely regarded as the leading expert in the field of search engine optimisation (SEO), published what was then known as: A webmasters guide to search engines. It grew to become Search Engine Watch and is, without doubt, the most visible online resource focused on search engines. During that same year, software developer Brent Winters, launched a product called WebPosition Agent. The product grew to become WebPosition Gold, the leading software package of its kind in the SEO industry.

Coincidentally, at the same time, Frederick Marckini "teamed-up" with Brent Winters to help promote the new software product, and also formed his SEO firm Response Direct. This grew to become iprospect, one of the most highly respected firms in the SEO industry. All three have been major influencers in what is now a burgeoning and credible industry sector. Initially, the art/science of SEO as an online marketing tactic was viewed by many as the "dark side" and much associated with some kind of technical "Voodoo" or "smoke and mirrors" trickery.

These days, you'll find Danny Sullivan presenting highly respected international industry conferences (with participation from the search engines themselves). Brent Winters is CEO of an award winning software company, and recently launched WebPosition Gold 2 with plaudits from leading industry players. And as CEO with iprospect, Frederick Marckini has set professional standards which attract world leading companies as clients.

From "cottage industry" to credible industry sector, SEO has become a vital component in the online marketing mix. Yet, it's an industry sector which lacks the cohesion of many others. No real governing body exists. Standards and practices belong to the integrity (or lack of it in some cases) of the individual practitioners. And as for pricing structures: "how long is a piece of string" really is an understatement.

In September of last year, MarketingSherpa produced a long overdue, first of its kind, with their buyers guide to search engine optimisation firms. The new second edition has just recently been published, and boy: was I glad to see it. Not that I'm in the market for an SEO firm (I kind of have that base covered already), but because so little marketing intelligence exists relating to the pricing and practices of SEO firms. Just run a search through any of the major search engines on "search engine optimisation" or "search engine marketing" as it's more currently referred to, and you'll have SEO firms "coming out of your ears." Then try to do some comparative research on services, methodology, pricing, etc. Not only are you less than likely to be able to find some close matches: you're less than likely to find such detailed information. Most of the larger SEO firms only give a broad outline of services and very rarely actually give an indication of how much they charge for their services.

For the uninitiated marketing executive, who understands that better visibility at search engines is important, he's still largely left with the dilemma of who should do it, how will they do it and how much should it cost.

This is where the MarketingSherpa guide comes into its own. Sure, there are many websites and newsletters and "how-to" guides (including my own), but for a busy executive, the simple notion of having to learn "all that stuff" and then actually put it into practice is a distant one. As Alexis Gutzman, Managing Editor of the guide puts it: "SEO is like plumbing. You could learn how to do it yourself, and do it fairly well. But not everyone has the time, money or interest to do so." Thanks Alexis - I spend the first part of this article explaining how SEO has become respectable in online marketing terms and next thing we're plumbers! Seriously though, Alexis makes a very valid point. If it wasn't a fact, then I would very likely be in the ranks of the unemployed.

So, to the "nuts and bolts" what's in the guide and what can you expect from it? If you're new to the whole issue of SEO, it's easy to get lost in the industry jargon, so the guide provides a useful glossary of terms to begin with. The first part of the guide then focuses on information received by direct contact with some of the major search engines and directories, including Google and Yahoo! (transcripts of the interviews are included in the appendices). This is very much an overview of the search engine standpoint relating to the practice of SEO, and what are deemed as acceptable practices and those which are more likely to be frowned upon. Not surprisingly, the general consensus is that marketers should find credible, reliable, non-spam-generating firms to work with.

The next section is a "Business Backgrounder" covering the benefits of SEO and explaining the difference between pure SEO and marketing services which can be paid for and provided by third parties, such as Pay Per Click. This "dovetails" perfectly with the section on how to pick the right SEO firm for your company. Now this is extremely valuable information and advice for any company which needs to know what questions they should be asking a potential SEO supplier; what kind of answers to expect and the risks involved if you do select the wrong firm. Just going back to something I mentioned earlier, when talking about pricing structures within SEO firms, Alexis Gutzman sums it up quite nicely again when she simply states: "SEO pricing is all over the map."

The real "meat" in the report comes in the main section which profiles 55 search engine optimisation firms in the US and Canada (in a later edition firms from the UK/Ireland/Australia/New Zealand will be able to nominate themselves for inclusion). There's no charge for inclusion but firms do have to fall within the qualification criteria:

The firm must be an SEO firm not a technology company.

The firm must have at least one full time employee who focuses 75% on SEO services, and who has at least 3 full-time years of SEO experience.

The firm must derive a significant proportion of its revenue from SEO services.

The firm must be in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand (the rest of the world is not featured as yet).

Each of the firms nominated and eventually featured in the guide were required to complete a 92-point questionnaire carried out by phone. The questionnaire covers areas of specialisation, tactics used and general philosophy. Of course, when it comes to the very important aspect of budgeting for SEO, as has already been mentioned, it's almost impossible to compare one firm to another because of the variation in services provided, and the size of the actual firms themselves. However, the guide is able to determine a number of things, such as:

What the least expensive package costs.

What the most expensive package includes.

Whether the least expensive package includes any number of keyword phrases, and if so, how many.

What services are available in a larger package.

Information relating to maintenance, contracts, ownership, page creation and reporting is also included. The firms included were given scores based on several different criteria. The most important criterion was the effectiveness of the techniques the SEO firms used to achieve high rankings. Each of the firms was able to include comments from their existing clients, who also had to carry out a short survey relating to the services provided by their chosen supplier.

The report has proved to be a major success for MarketingSherpa, which is testimony itself to the requirement for such a guide. Trying to set industry standards within the field of SEO is much of a fruitless task at this time, as many would-be "self regulating" organisations appear and then disappear just as quickly. Certainly, the buyers guide doesn't appear to set out to establish standards, it's more a case of observing if they do exist and in what form. Perhaps the most important and valuable aspect of the guide is that, it's not just a list of firms who do SEO and an overview of what SEO actually is. It's an eminently useful reference tool for professional marketers who need to make informed decisions.

Who should buy it? Both sides. Marketers who need to put together a sensible and realistic brief to provide to potential suppliers. And those potential suppliers (the SEO firms) who are usually starved of marketing intelligence and competitor analysis data.

If you'd like to nominate your firm for inclusion in the buyers guide, you can do it here:

< http://www.e-marketing-news.co.uk/survey >

If you're in the market for an SEO supplier and need the relevant reference material, you can purchase the guide here:

< http://www.e-marketing-news.co.uk/sherpa >


Danny Sullivan: Search Engine Watch.

< http://www.e-marketing-news.co.uk/sullivan >

Brent Winters: WebPosition Gold 2

< http://www.e-marketing-news.co.uk/webposition >

Frederick Marckini: iProspect.


Each issue of e-marketing-news carries a feature article written by a specialist from the various online marketing disciplines. Whether it's SEO, e-mail marketing, affiliate marketing, copywriting or web metrics, we'll have a "real" practitioner to give us an insight into their work and pass on any useful tips and information.

Ralph Tegtmeier is the co-founder and principal of fantomaster.com GmbH (Belgium), a company specialising in webmasters software development, industrial-strength cloaking and search engine positioning services. He has been a web marketer since 1994 and is editor-in-chief of fantomNews, a free newsletter focusing on search engine optimisation.

Ralph, AKA fantomaster, is very high profile in SEO circles and is regarded as an expert in the field. His use of cloaking as his main SEO tactic "raises eyebrows" in certain quarters. In this issue, Ralph speaks openly and frankly to put his side, and address the "general consensus" towards cloaking within the industry. He also has news of a major SEO conference taking place soon in Holland. We're very grateful for this contribution.


There's a prevalent dichotomy on the Internet, when it comes to search engine marketing in general and search engine optimisation (SEO) in particular. "Content is king" and "common sense rules", scream the amateurs, and, shame upon them, not too few SEO agencies. A blatantly naïve approach, suggesting everything will work out just fine, once you heed a few simple rules: nice, relevant and non-spammy (or, in American's 'favourite usage: "ethical") content on the site; tend to your meta tags; and hand submit your pages to the search engines - bingo! It's a classical case of "the good guys will always win in the end". But will they really?

And then you have the hardnosed techie crowd. They subscribe to a rationalistic, empirical and very often statistical approach, fundamentally attempting to reverse-engineer and exploit the search engines' ever changing ranking algorithms. Here you will discover a lot of highly esoteric tips and tricks, many if not most of which will stultify the average punter. In other words: it's the pro crowd talking shop, squabbling amongst themselves, speculating, testing, demolishing or endorsing each others' findings, just as peer groups of experts are always wont to.

None of this is particularly surprising and neither would it be detrimental per se to the craft of search engine optimisation. However, you can't well overlook how incomplete, dated and downright false information regarding the complex SEO process abounds. One characteristic example is the ubiquity of admonitions and warnings catering to the time-worn technique of fear, uncertainty and doubt: "Don't do this", "never try that", "cloaking is evil and will get you banned", "only hand submission works", "avoid products X, Y and Z", "adhere studiously to what the search engines themselves tell you to do on their web sites", and so on.

All this attitude achieves, however, is to promote search engine optimisation to a black art of sorts. This distorts the picture and causes a whole lot of (incidentally: very easily avoidable) grief amongst those who rely on this type of erroneous if well meant advice in their attempt at actually making a living off their Web presence.

Certainly the time has come to do something about it! That's why my partners and I decided to organise a conference on these issues - with the declared agenda of focusing only on hands-on, practical information. This should be presented by people who have researched the matter not only in theory but in actual practice for many years. Rather than waste attendees' time on mere theorising or vague, sanctimonious "ethics" fluff of no import to real life successful search engine marketing, this conference should offer true insights into what the insiders are really doing, which tactics and techniques actually work and which don't.

So, now it's on: Search Engine Marketing Tactics 2002 (Amsterdam) will take place on September 23 and 24 in (you guessed it!) the Netherlands.

However, allow me to discuss some of the scheduled speeches and their speakers by way of an overview of the true complexities involved in search engine marketing these days.

For one, we are extremely happy and, yes, proud, to have mustered the support of Mike Grehan. His recently published second edition of "Search Engine Marketing", a best-selling e-book is a true blockbuster of relevant, well researched and immensely usable information. It's no exaggeration that it sets new standards in the field. His speech on "How search engines really work: Crawler to search results" is expected to debunk many fond myths abounding in the SEO industry.

Dirk Brockhausen, my partner and CTO at, will speak on "SEO and log file analysis: your hidden marketing goldmine". Logfiles, when viewed from this perspective, are a veritable eye opener for anyone targeting Web audiences. Among other things they can reveal the discrepancy between what webmasters may believe people will search for and what they actually enter in the search boxes.

Personally, I have chosen the topic "Cloaking with Shadow Domains - all tricks revealed" in which I will hopefully dispense with the common myth that cloaking or IP delivery is something to be avoided at all cost: quite the contrary, in fact, as IP delivery is the only chance very many web sites stand to get indexed, not to mention well ranked, at all. Obviously, some safeguards have to be put in place before employing this technology effectively. All this will be covered in detail.

In another workshop I will cover the tricky issue of cloaking for Google - something all SEO artists should know about if they don't want to lose their clients' sites before they can say "index run".

Well known SEO expert Jill Whalen (US) will contribute her workshop on "Submitting to Directories: How to get your listing accepted and ranked well". Paying up is simply not enough: while an all-important directory like Yahoo! will happily take your money for a review of your site, actually getting included and, preferably, in a good position at that, is quite another story. And Jill will tell it all.

Other highlights include speakers such as Ammon Johns, Jim Banks and Graham Eden, all from the UK, covering a variety of issues ranging from what to do about Google's PageRankalgorithm to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) options as an SEO testing ground, and doorways as hosted domains: a new, highly efficient technique you won't have read about elsewhere yet.
Covering the whole wide spectrum of efficient search engine marketing, further workshops will tackle: typical SEO mistakes to avoid; the real life cost-per- click; PPC and reasonable ROI expectations, and content as a major SEO factor. There will also be a slot on "Writing search engine friendly content with your human audience in mind" with no less than SEO legend Robin Nobles (US) from the Academy of Web Specialists.

And of course the search engines themselves shall have their say as well: on the Search Engine Panel which will close the conference, you can listen to what they are doing to combat spam and what PPC strategies to pursue. What's more, you can ask them all those tricky, controversial questions you may have wanted to air for years in vain. Here, you will get it all straight from the horse's mouth.

There's yet more, but take a look at the full conference agenda for yourself. This event, finally, goes way beyond the mystique still surrounding much of search engine optimisation and marketing, making the process transparent and - most important - workable.


If you sign up for the conference at:

< http://www.e-marketing-news.co.uk/register >

Be sure to enter promo code "SEM015" for an exclusive 15% discount, reserved to subscribers of e-marketing-news.

Subscribe to fantomnews here:

< http://www.e-marketing-news.co.uk/fantomnews >

(c)copyright 2002 by fantomaster.com - All rights reserved.



There is no doubt that, marketing your business on the web provides opportunities and benefits which simply never existed before. The overheads can be very, very low and the ROI very, very high. With so many advantages it's easy to rush ahead, launch your website, start trading and forget about the many legal implications which need to be considered.

Everything from the simple "terms of use of your website" to the "terms and conditions" of trading need to be carefully considered. Many of the legal aspects of e-business are still being established and many are subject to change. Once you start promoting and trading online, you're actually entering a "minefield" of issues relating to copyright, intellectual property, data protection and most importantly, contracting.

Dr Rita Esen (LLB,LLM,PhD, Barrister) an experienced Cyber Law Consultant is the director of CYBERLAW SERVICES and has a great deal of experience and insight into this new and growing area of law. She is the Chair of a European Standardisation Working Group on Promoting e-Trust through Legal Compliance, and is one of two experts appointed by a European Standardisation Committee to prepare an Electronic Signature Guide for SMEs in Europe.

Rita is also friend, colleague and part of the e-marketing- news team. With such a high profile, Rita spends her time between the UK and Italy carrying out her European responsibilities, as well as running her law practice. We're delighted that we were able to catch her between airports for this first in a series of articles which fly under the banner of: "Where marketing meets the law".

Contracting online can be a very complicated issue. Rita takes a look at how contracts have evolved in the IT industry and on to the web: do you always just check the "I agree" box or do you read the terms?


- Creating certainty through contract terms. -

Online terms of contract fall within the classification of express terms. An express term is a clear stipulation in a contract which the parties intend to be binding on them. If there is doubt as to the meaning of an express term, the court will construe or interpret the meaning.

Contracts of Adhesion.

Although it is possible to negotiate in some kinds of contract, there are certain categories of contract where such negotiation is difficult to achieve. In such situations the seller would simply impose the terms of the contract on the purchaser. A contract of adhesion is, therefore, a contract drafted by one party and offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, therefore giving the offeree very little opportunity to bargain and contribute to the terms of the contract. Online contracts fall into this category.

Typical examples are contracts of insurance and loan agreements. With such contracts the consumer does not normally bargain over the terms of the contract and such contracts are legally enforceable. In the area of electronic contracts, especially in the IT industry, suppliers normally attempt to contract on their own standard terms. In such cases the customer's bargaining power will determine the extent to which the supplier is ready to deviate from those standard terms. The importance of bargaining for terms that are better than the standard terms of a supplier was highlighted in Mackenzie Patten v. British Olivetti (1984) ICL & P 92, 95.

In this case, a law firm bought an Olivetti computer system to run its accounts. They indicated the purpose for which the computer was intended to be used and without any negotiation signed up on Olivetti's standard terms. Those terms only related to the technical performance of the computer. The computer was unsuitable for the stated purpose, the law firm ended up expending time and money to litigate the matter.

Shrink-wrap Agreements.

In today's information age the information industry has coined a licensing contract to meet the needs of its participants. It is now common for the software industry to use a standard form contract in the form of a shrink-wrap licensing agreement. Shrink-wrap agreements are the terms and conditions of use that accompany software that are sold or distributed in computer stores. Normally such terms and conditions are inserted in an plastic envelope that holds the disk with the software in a box.

Such an agreement construes a customer who has opened the plastic shrink-wrap as assenting to the terms and conditions of the licence. By including a shrink-wrap licence provision on the software product, the supplier's objectives are:

To prohibit infringement of intellectual property rights

To limit liability and disclaim warranties

Normally, a shrink-wrap licence agreement will deny the user the right to make backup copies, modify or resell the software to anyone. A typical shrink-wrap agreement will state that:

"By opening this parcel or envelope, you are bound by the terms and conditions of the licence"


The shrink-wrap agreement raises two main legal issues in relation to contract law:

Formation of contract

Assent of parties to contract terms

A contract is normally formed between two parties after the terms have been negotiated and there is a clear understanding between the parties as to the issues involved. The goods are only transferred from the seller to the buyer after such mutual negotiation and understanding. In a shrink-wrap agreement the question is when is the contract formed? Is it at the time of purchase or later at home when the buyer reads the terms of the contract and proceeds to use the product. The enforceability of such a contract may be questionable as the buyer has not given his assent to the stipulated terms.

Initially the courts were sceptical whether such contracts were legally binding and enforceable. The main reason for this was the belief that a contract may not be imposed on a party as this was upheld as a well-established principle of the law of contract universally. The courts, therefore, objected to the idea of first paying out money and then later finding out what the arrangement or agreement was.

In the American case of Step-Saver data Systems, Inc. v.Wyse Tech., 939 F2d 91 (3d Cir. 1991), Step-Saver, the appellant, was a reseller of software for physicians and lawyers. Step-Saver selected an operating system from software producer The Software Link, Inc (TSL). According to Step-Saver, TSL salesmen made certain verbal representations regarding the capabilities of the licensed program. Based in part on these representations, Step-Saver submitted purchase orders for the licensed program. When the actual licensed programs arrived, the packaging contained some terms in an envelope which, among other things, disclaimed all express and implied warranties (with the exception of a warranty that the disks would be defect-free) and limited TSL's liability to replacing a defective disk.

Step-Saver resold the licensed program to more than one hundred of its own customers before terminating sales because of the numerous customer complaints regarding the capabilities of the licensed program. The customer complaints eventually developed into law suits against Step-Saver. Step-Saver, in turn, sought indemnification from TSL for its costs in defending and resolving such suits. In defence, TSL pointed to the warranty disclaimer and limitation of liability contained in the license. The court, however, held that a contract had been formed when Step-Saver submitted a purchase order and TSL shipped the licensed program to Step-Saver, not as TSL argued, when Step-Saver read the license and effectively consented to it by not returning the licensed programs. The court concluded that the terms in the envelope amounted to additional terms that were not incorporated into the contract.

In more recent times the courts have taken a different stand where shrink-wrap agreements are concerned. In ProCD Inc. v Zeidenberg, 86 F. 3d 1447 (7th Cir. 1996), ProCD compiled information from 3,000 telephone directories into a computer database program called SelectPhone. The program enabled the users to search various telephone and address listings and to incorporate their search results into documents. ProCD offered the database for sale to both consumers and commercial users but consumers paid less for the program than commercial users. To justify the lower price, ProCD packaged the retail software with a licence which limited it to non-commercial purposes.

The defendant bought a retail copy of SelectPhone, and his company proceeded to resell the SelectPhone information over the Internet, in violation of the shrink-wrap agreement and was sued by ProCD. Zeidenberg argued that he was not bound by a contract whose terms he could not examine until after purchase since the license was inside the box.

The court held that ProCD had made an offer to license its product and by using the program, Zeidenberg accepted the offer and bound himself to the terms of the license accompanying the program. The court insisted that unless the terms of the license accompanying the software are objectionable on grounds applicable to contracts in general such shrink-wrap agreements are enforceable.

Click-wrap agreements.

It is now common for companies to sell products and services directly to the public over the Internet. Most software companies now offer their products online to those who electronically agree to their online license terms in the form of click-wrap agreements. A click-wrap agreement is a contract for the purchase or sale of products or services offered through an online seller. The online purchaser is expected to agree to the terms of the contract by clicking the "I ACCEPT" icon.

Click-wrap agreements are an improvement on the shrink-wrap as the user is normally required to view the terms and conditions of the contract before affirmatively assenting to the terms of the software to be downloaded. They can be described as a standard-form agreement which is available to the end-user in an online environment.

Typically, a click-wrap agreement appears as a pop-up window from the original page viewed by the user. Alternatively, it will pop-up when a user attempts to download software or order goods and services online. The pop-up window normally contains the terms and conditions of the contract governing the sale or license of the goods or services and the user is instructed, in plain language, to review the contract's terms before assenting to them by clicking a button at the bottom of the agreement.

The main difference between the online click-wrap and the offline shrink-wrap type is that the vendor is assured that the user's assent is obtained prior to the formation of the contract. By reviewing and accepting the license agreement the user will subsequently be bound by the contract. This will make the terms of the agreement an integral part of the transaction which work to incorporate those terms into the contract.

An online order system should contain the following to make any click-wrap agreement between the parties legally binding.

The purchase price of the product A clear indication that no contract will be entered into unless the purchaser agrees to the terms. Facility for the purchaser to reject the terms and, therefore, not be bound by them.

The main question with these type of agreements is whether the click on the relevant button satisfies the requirement of acceptance thus creating an enforceable contract between the parties.

In Steven J. Caspi, et al v. The Microsoft Network, L. L. C., et al, 1999 WL 462175, 323 N.J. Super. 118 (N. J. App. Div., July 2, 1999), the plaintiff had entered into a binding contract by agreeing online via the click of a mouse to be bound by the terms of the Microsoft Network's subscriber agreement. The terms of this agreement appeared in a scrollable window next to blocks containing the words "I agree" or "I disagree". The user could not commence use of the Microsoft Network unless she clicks the "I agree" button. Each of the plaintiffs clicked the "I agree" button, thereby indicating their assent to be bound by the terms of the subscriber agreement. Both the trial and appellate courts held that this created an enforceable contract between the defendant and their subscribers.

In Groff v. America Online, Inc. ( File No. C.A. No. PC 97- 0331, 1998 W L 307001 ( R.I. Superior Ct., May 27, 1998 ), the plaintiff entered into a click-wrap agreement with America Online Inc. (AOL) which contained a jurisdiction clause. That clause stated that legal actions were to be taken to appropriate courts in Virginia, where the defendant's base of operation was located.

The court dismissed the plaintiff's action for improper venue, holding that the parties' contract entered into online by the click of "I agree" button was enforceable. The court insisted that a party who signs an instrument manifests his assent to it and cannot later complain that he had not read the instrument or that he did not understand its contents.

Key Recommendations.

Online terms and conditions of contract should be displayed in full and positioned in a way that the makes them clearly visible and unmistakable.

There should be a clear statement to the effect that the terms and conditions are an integral part of the contract.

Wherever there is reference to the terms and conditions of contract there should be a direct link to the page where they can be retrieved electronically.

The terms and conditions of contract should be presented in a way that customers can easily print out or download.

I'll be back next issue with more: Marketing meets the law. Until then, take care of yourself.


Meet Richard.

In the early days of marketing, when it was really beginning to be taken seriously as an essential, integrated business function and not just ad-hoc or novelty factor, the great debate began: is it an art or a science? And just as the debate was starting to "simmer in the background" for a while, along came the web to fire the whole thing back up again.

Getting the balance right between applied Internet science/technology and the required 'creative juice' can be the deciding factor over whether your online campaigns work or fail. But this is not a new scenario, similar challenges have always been faced by marketers using what we now refer to as "conventional marketing". Whether it's telemarketing, direct mail or above the line TV, radio and press, the combination of science/technology and creativity in the techniques we use to deliver our marketing messages is vitally important. Many techniques/methods used in conventional marketing easily adapt to online marketing: some though, you couldn't squeeze in with a shoehorn.

Richard Gay is senior lecturer in marketing at Northumbria University in the UK. He holds so many qualifications, there isn't enough room in this short intro to list them all. He also holds a golf club very well.

In a reflective series of articles called "A round with Richard Gay", he looks at online marketing strategies and tactics (as both marketer and consumer) which can easily be tracked back to conventional marketing methods and how some become even more dynamic because of the medium and some can fail miserably. As passionate as he is about marketing: he is about golf also. So I'm delighted we've been able to drag him off the golf course to pen this article, before he and the family say "au revoir" and head off on holiday to France (booked online, of course!).


- Looking for customer satisfaction online. -

It's holiday time, but like football, the academic close season is getting shorter and shorter (honest!) and my thoughts are turning to revamping, tweaking and tuning various electronic and direct marketing programmes for the coming year. What, I wonder, is the next flavour of the month? And will we always fall back on our old, tried and tested models such as the Four P's, Ansoff's Matrix and SERVQUAL etc., in the rapidly evolving e-marketing landscape?

Who is making the Web connection?

I'll come back to the issues above later, but I think any business needs to consider how 'connected' its customers are, and are likely to be, and to what extent they utilise other channels as well as the Web. A recent Oftel report indicated that 11 million UK homes are now connected to the Internet. Connected is one thing, purchasing is another as cash flow and profitability provide the key measures for any business.

Let me be a little self-indulgent and provide some observations from my own family regarding web usage (not that we're either typical or average!) but it may generate some thoughts for online marketers to wrestle with.

I mentioned it's holiday time, which got me thinking back to last year's family jaunt to Spain, booked via the Web. Everything from flights, accommodation, travel insurance and car hire was done via the Web, saving approximately GBP 420 (USD 659)compared to off-line prices. It was a challenge, it was exciting and it meant that I could bring more Spanish wine back - but it's a good job that I didn't cost out my actual "search time". Individual websites, and those of various Spanish Tourist Boards provided great information, not to mention Web cams to whet your appetite further. I even booked my tee times on various golf courses by e-mail, which can be less stressful than dealing directly with some clubs' secretaries! Everything went well, it was an achievement, and we were independent Web travellers. Goodbye high street travel agent!

A year on, my web purchases have included a dishwasher (saving GBP 95/USD 145 compared to the sale price of a leading department store), garden plants (the quality did not match the online description), yet another Epson Printer and numerous compatible cartridges to go with it, not to mention various CDs from those good people at Amazon whose catalogue expands to satisfy my thirst for nostalgia.

Generally, my Web experiences have been interesting, often saving me money, sometimes causing mutterings under the breath at badly designed sites as I give up yet again before completing a transaction. Despite that, one pleasant aspect has been the fast and reliable delivery provided by online services. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of good practice out on the web, but still many online operations don't get the customer "experience" quite right.

Let me just give you a couple more examples which may help you to think a little more about buyer behaviour influences and the need for integrating other channels and services.

It's old hat now!

The holiday this year is a compromise (I'm the only male in the household!), so France here we come. Google did the business with relevant results following our search and one travel company was selected for its overall package. But far from getting excited about Internet bookings, I found it quite a toil this year. Where had last year's fun and excitement gone? Yes it was a decent website with standard information, a couple of nice features and links but I wanted specific information relevant to me which the FAQ's couldn't answer. Sadly, the only way to source it was through a premium rate help line, which takes an eternity to get through and then "stings" you for 60p (98c) per minute technology and customer satisfaction in action really?

My second example highlights another web-phobia over making major purchases. I was looking for a good deal on a new car. I scoured many online car dealers and got some decent quotes - if I was willing to wait for three to six months. I'm ready to purchase - so when do I want it? I want it NOW! Offline prices for the car I drive have come down and the local dealer was within GBP 800 (USD 1,250) of the online traders. Consequently, my key criteria of personal service, easy test drive arrangements, local back-up and warranty won the day. I know online car traders are improving their operations by the day, but I was still slightly cautious, and the traditional buying model still seemed to be a safer and more personalised way to make a major purchase.

Are multi-channels the answer?

A number of recent marketing texts have referred to the idea of "convergence marketing" where consumers may vary the channels that they use depending upon the product or service being purchased. For example, in financial services they may be happy to use the web for current account transactions, but will still seek personal advice when making savings and investment decisions. Think about it: do your customers still prefer the security of knowing there is some form of real personal service behind your web pages? And how do you reassure them about it?

So, how receptive are other members of my family to the web? My wife is a hard working nurse. In her words she "hates shopping" and is "time starved". Tesco, Asda, Next online [UK based retailers] really were made for her. Unfortunately, I'm married to a techno-laggard who will simply not entertain the benefits of the web. My seven-year-old daughter is being brought up with the technology, as she's completed two school projects using the web and researched information on a regional attraction for her school trip. It's not hard to tell that the web is going to be second nature to her by the time she has her first credit card!

So does this mean the new "web savvy" generation are the high volume, regular web users to start chasing? Not in my recent experience. Having surveyed 72 final year marketing students, only seven claimed to be regular (once per week) web purchasers and these tended to be low value items (e.g. CDs). Eleven had never purchased anything on the web. The remainder had mostly purchased only travel tickets online. Compare this with 100 percent adoption of mobile phones! Perhaps their first career steps may change this - or marriage and a few children! Joking apart, it is clear that not all consumers are using the "new medium" to purchase products, but the adoption trend is certainly upwards.

Something old, something new

Teaching direct-marketing in the mid-nineties, we talked about the failure of mass advertising, better targeting and use of databases, greater measurability and accountability, the ability to test, less wastage and wider geographic coverage etc. It seems to me that we are simply saying similar things about the web and digital marketing now.

If you consider a lot of the promotional activities employed on the web, many are merely old, tried and trusted techniques applied to the medium. Obviously the technology means that we can do it better and faster. Online redeemable coupons, e-mail newsletters, access to special incentives, events or discounts for instance, all have their origins in sales promotion or direct, but it's just quicker and more economical for the sponsor. However, reducing costs has led many to go for quantity not quality and spamming simply damages the brand. By driving "profiled" traffic to our web sites we're in an excellent position for true, precision target marketing.

Similarly, the traditional skills of campaign planners, headline and copywriters are needed more than ever on the web to grab the attention of the passing, potential customer. Think of how many e-mail newsletters you receive yourself each week - which ones stand out and which ones have you clicking delete? Being more succinct than ever to encapsulate the product and its key benefits to the customer, in a few words is critical. As someone famous once said: "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" and the Web is no different. Site usability studies are essential also. Get some mystery shoppers to visit your web site and you may have to "brace yourself" for their comments.

As marketers, we endure accountants questioning and measuring activities, but direct marketing with its ability to measure every campaign element has helped answer the critics. And the web has a hatful of measurement metrics to provide us with key performance indicators regarding online operations. By the time the next issue comes around I'll have had a chance to read the new Web Metrics text from leading US online marketer Jim Sterne, and give an overview of his own research into the subject. In the meantime, don't throw the old marketing tools out of the window just yet, the bulk of conventional marketing principles still apply: don't forget the customer, they're individuals and they're still King!

Well, that's it for my part in this issue, I have to get the bags packed for France, with the latest Pete McCarthy book as my essential companion this time, as well as the odd bottle of Muscadet and not forgetting my wife and daughter, of course.


Editor: Mike Grehan. Search engine marketing consultant, speaker and author. http://www.search-engine-book.co.uk

Associate Editor: Christine Churchill. KeyRelevance.com

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