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securityThink you do enough to remain secure while online?  Password security has been a hot topic recently (a subject we will return to in a later blog) but you need to be ever vigilant as more sophisticated threats emerge on an almost daily basis.  We’ve put together the following checklist to ensure your data and systems are never compromised:

  1. Install hardware and software firewalls. One can catch problems the other may miss.
  2. Install antivirus software. Your computer needs to be infected with a virus only once to realise the value of this step. After installation, make sure to always install the updates as they become available.
  3. Never run .exe attachments or downloads unless you are sure of their authenticity. Doing so makes it way too easy for hackers to load a Trojan horse or execute malicious code.
  4. Consider encrypting sensitive data on your computer. If your machine is compromised, your critical documents will be unintelligible.
  5. Be wary of emails from people you don’t know or trust. Delete any emails you think are suspicious. Delete the email from your ‘Inbox’, and delete it again from your ‘Deleted’ folder, or ‘Sent’ folder if you have forwarded on the email
  6. Never click onto a link or an attachment in an email, obtained from a source you don’t know or trust
  7. Before entering any personal data, make sure that the address in the URL begins with https: to ensure a secure connection and that your data will be encrypted.

 

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How are you getting on with the new requirement to submit Gift Aid claims electronically?

Our latest software, GiftAider  makes submitting your claims painless.  It fully integrates with your existing system and is very simple to use.  It manages the whole process whether you submit 1 or 500,000 donations at a time. As well as keeping the submission records for audit purposes you can validate the data before uploading to HMRC to save time. All data is encrypted for security – (just don’t forget the password as there is little we can do to help in that case!).

Click here to request a free trial, or let us know if you’ve got any questions.

One of the issues in data collection is how we use it. I have always prescribed that data is used as an aid to decision making, but all too often is used as a method of control and apportioning blame.

A recent report on the use of, and future direction for, data in the US cultural industry (don’t let that put you off, there’s a lot to learn from it even for commercial organisations) identified 6 factors that influence the gathering and collection if data and provide some preliminary suggestions for making better use of data. All make sense, but, as you might expect, the one that grabbed my attention was:

“Shift the conversation from data’s value as an accountability tool to data’s value as a decision-making tool.”

But As Barry Hessenius comments in his blog on the report:

“The question that always looms is “how”? How do you refocus all the data, research, information and input that is out there from being merely a tool to prove, after the fact, that a given program, project or approach has met its objective to information that informs decision making in the first place?”

An excellent question indeed.

I’d be interested in hearing how you approach this in your organisation, leave a comment.

Read Barry’s blog post.

The report can be downloaded here.

Last week I was at the Arts Marketing Association Digiday where Carol Jones made the comment that “… it’s not about the tech, done properly you don’t even notice it”.

Immediately my thoughts jumped back to our first brochure (about 1990!) which started with a quote that “… the true test of successful implementation of IT … will be when we do not notice it is there”.

Believed it then, believe it now.

Russell

Personally, I would say yes!.

Let’s start by explaining some things.

Back in the day we accessed the internet via a desktop computer, or maybe a laptop, screen sizes and computer speeds were pretty low, slow and inconsistent. But at least we knew roughly a few things about our potential visitors.

They would probably be viewing our sites either at 800×600 or 1024×768 (and there are some here who actually remember 640×480!), or as screen sizes increased and TFTs became common place, most users began to view our sites using 1280×1024 screens, this was fine. I could design my site to fit.

Now, things have moved on, once a mobile site would and could only be simple text, maybe a little colour and a couple of tiny pixelated images. Now mobile is here, tablets, netbooks and other strange net connected devices are cropping up. So where does that put me when designing a new site?

Now we  have to cater for a whole range of devices. Previously there was no choice in the matter, M.website.com or www.website.com. One pretty basic site and another rigid one.

We’re talking websites here, so if you’re wondering about when to make a mobile site or app, you’ll have to come back for that.

This is where Responsive Web Design comes in. Instead of developing a website specifically for one screen size, we can now detect the browser/device/tablet/phones viewable space, and adapt the design to fit.

Take a look at our new site built in this manner.

On my beloved 27″ iMac, instead of seeing a postage stamp, I see it in its full glory, then on my mobile I get the full experience, just nicely folded down.

Same site, same code. But with a little thinking it scales up and down gracefully.

Should we?

So, when you are next developing your website, think about the bigger picture, as well as the smaller one. If you have no need or the budget for a native app, I would say build a responsive site.Check out this website, pop in the address for your site,  or ours :) and see how it renders at different sizes http://www.studiopress.com/responsive/

We all know the old adadge that selling to new customers costs a lot more than selling to existing ones, so perhaps we should just stop chasing new ones – in these austere times that might make sense.

However, as I’ve mentioned here before (Customer Acquisition vs Customer Retention), it does seem that going after these expensive new customers is much more attractive than some boring direct marketing to exisiting ones. However, this blog is not about urging you to spend more time on your existing customer marketing (I’ll leave that for another day – as Chad Bauman says, “Want to get into trouble? Concentrate on new audiences” – so we’ll come back to that), but about how you should approach your new customer acquisition.

Just marketing to exisiting customers is a non starter – old customers go away or die and if you didn’t replenish the existing customer pot, you will soon run out of people to sell to. Remember, your existing customers were new customers once.

Part of the problem is that we think of marketing as a cost, something we have to spend money on and as such something to cut when times get tough. Marketing, done properly, is an investment. You are using some of today’s money to generate an income stream in the future. And that is the key and like all investments it needs analysis and decisions.

It is not enough to compare the cost of a sale to an existing customer to one to a new one. On a campaign basis that is always going to lose. What we need to look at is the lifetime value of a customer and use that information to identify the best source of future exsiting customers.and what ongoing activity is going to maximise the return. So get out those spreadsheets and start looking at your best existing customers and where to get more like them.

Lifetime Value is the key to good new customer marketing.
… oh, so I was talking about marketing to existing customers after all

I think of technology as anything that is developed to make our lives easier and more productive (although not necessarily better). However, not all technology developments are successful. Some fail to be adopted and vanish into the blue yonder, possibly even some good ones. Some get remembered as a quirky or amusing anecdote, most disappear without a trace.

Technology becomes successful when we no longer perceive it to be technology, in fact when we cease to see it at all. When we stop wondering about how it works; when we use it without worrying about whether it will or not; and just use it without really thinking about it – that’s when technology can be thought of as truly successful.

In the early years of any technology several things stop it moving into the realms of general usage and it is addressing these that moves it in the right direction:

  • Cost – new technology costs an arm and a leg;
  • Reliability – it usually breaks down and breaks down often;
  • Usability – it is new and no one really knows how to use it and if you do you really need to know the nuts and bolts;

Part of the usability problem is that the new technology often tries to emulate existing technology – the first motor cars really were horseless carriages; television was radio with pictures; the website was a brochure on a computer screen.

This is a two edged sword: emulating existing technologies is probably essential to give users a frame of reference without which it maybe very difficult to get the technology adopted. Replicating the interface to the technology may make it easier for new users to get the hang of it, but it stifles the potential of the technology.

Technologies take time to grow into themselves – it took many years for the car to move away from looking like a carriage; television took decades to develop dedicated formats; mobile phones have only recently started developing functionality that the connection method enabled; the web is only now starting to develop into its own persona.

A technology takes time to develop into a unique application – and only become successful when we don’t realise that they are there.