In today’s world of marketing, it is common to see unethical marketing techniques. In this blog post, I will go over what you can do as a marketer in order to have ethical marketing practices without hurting your business.
Marketers are often faced with the decision of how to approach their campaigns ethically while still achieving the desired outcome for their company. Many marketers believe that they need to employ manipulative tactics in order to be successful but in reality, there are many ways marketers can achieve success without being dishonest or underhanded about it. Here are some suggestions on how you can conduct ethical marketing campaigns and achieve the desired outcome for your company without hurting people along the way.
Working at the moment in a company that tries to respect consumers, I want to offer insights on ethical digital marketing, as an effective solution for brands wishing to promote their products or services in a fair way and stay within legal boundaries.
Consider alternative platforms
Many of the tools you use as marketers include users’ data, and many of them are necessary. For example, an analytics solution is almost imperative for marketers but in opposition to solutions such as Google Analytics, consider alternative platforms that safeguard your data and customers’ privacy. If clients learn that their information is utilized by Google for “its own purposes,” you might lose their trust and risk harming your reputation. You can look at solutions like AT Analytics, MAtomo, Piwik Pro, Count.ly, Adobe Analytics, Statcounter, etc.
Another point about the platforms you use is, where the data of those platforms are stored. The best is to choose to host the data that you are collecting in a safe and known place. Keep track of where your data is stored, the company, the servers, the country, as well as the regulations on data protection in the country/region and what is being done with it. Check the contracts and privacy policies of the companies you are working with. If you can, even, store the data on your own servers using self-hosted solutions to protect your users’ privacy and maintain complete control of the information. For the analytics solution Matomo, Piwik, and Count.ly have an option to be hosted on your own servers.
As marketers, you may want to use open-source software for the tools you require because they are usually ethical by design. However, it’s not an option to simply close your eyes and hope for the best. The open-source software market, on the other hand, is not as tightly controlled as many people believe. Some programmers feel that it should be because they do not want their work to be misused; others, however, think that restricting open-source software is counterproductive or at least difficult. The good thing with open source is that you have access to the code and can then check how it is made but it can be very tedious work.
It’s difficult to find the ideal open-source and self-hosted solutions for each of your tools. After managing a number of projects in this area, I recognized that the greatest approach to guarantee long-term and ethical marketing is to use both traditional and alternative platforms while also establishing a strategy for each need you have.
Respect customer’s data
Anyone who works with data must first understand the fundamentals of data ethics. Your business may, for example, maintain data on customers’ journeys from the first time they provide their email address on your website to the fifth time they make a purchase. If you’re a digital marketer, you’ll spend a lot of time with this kind of information. While you may not be in charge of coding tracking code, keeping track of data, or developing a machine-learning algorithm, understanding data ethics can help you identify any instances of unethical data gathering, storage, or use. You may do so to safeguard the security of your clients.
Ethics is giving your users the choice not to receive commercial solicitations. It is a legal obligation to ask for consent before sending any commercial emails but some companies are forcing people to receive commercial information if they want to sign for a white book or if they want to receive an informational newsletter. Therefore, you could have a newsletter without promotions for your users and separate it from the commercial information.
Businesses should only collect personal data that are necessary for the products to be legally acquired. No data should be collected just for the purpose of re-marketing the consumers
Choose your tactics wisely
If you want to do ethical marketing, you should quit retargeting right away! The term “retargeting” refers to prospects visiting an e-commerce site and checking out a product after they’ve seen it on your site. They decide that now isn’t the time to buy, and they leave. You may use retargeting to remind people of their initial interest by displaying product advertisements on other sites. In essence, your adverts “follow them around the internet,” increasing the probability that they will return to make a purchase. It is totally unethical in that way! In another hand adapting the content to the user depending on his profile can actually be helpful. It is still possible while staying anonymous as ads platforms are giving you information about their audience without getting so personal that you can create a detailed profile of the buyer.
Another strategy that you should avoid using is the Look a Like Audiences suggested by certain advertising firms. They allow you to build a target audience based on your email list or site traffic, and they will then identify users with similar characteristics to yours. The problem with this is that they utilize your users’ data to create this list, allowing other businesses to target your customers.
The lead Scoring method is an automated approach that rates your leads based on certain criteria in order to better identify leads that are close to a purchasing decision, allowing you to prioritize those leads for your marketing and sales efforts. Although it’s common in the marketing industry to work around the purchase stage of the prospect, doing a lead scoring on your users might lead to you knowing way too much about your users and if you want to do ethical marketing, you must notify them of the data you’re collecting and what you’ll do with it.
Influencer marketing can work even within an ethical marketing environment, but the technique isn’t quite as ethical as Influencers might inspire you to buy into something you don’t need. Furthermore, influencer content may have a negative influence on consumers’ psychological well-being, materialism, and body satisfaction.
On a different aspect, you can also add as a bad practice the “click fraud”. It is when people are generating fraudulent charges for advertisers by clicking on their ads via bots. It is often used to waste the budget of the competition.
The list I’m giving you here is definitely not complete but you need to always think about the goal and the impact of the campaign on the consumers. Check if it’s ethical before trying any new tactic. Always put yourself in the shoes of your users and decide if you want that or not.
Stand for transparency
When it comes to ethical digital marketing, transparency is key!
In the advertising work, this also needs to be applied when promoting your products. Let the user know just how good you are but be honest about your services or products and what they’re capable of. Help Humans, Don’t Chase Clicks!
Ethical companies are open about who they are and what their business stands for. They let the consumer know exactly where they source their products so that there can be no confusion or ambiguity regarding ethical practices in production processes. But transparency is not only about products, it’s also about your strategy, your marketing practices, your values, the tool you are using. Ethical companies will have very detailed information about all that on their website.
Transparency ensures that all parties involved have a clear understanding of each other’s principles and values which builds trust between them. This strengthens your company’s reputation because consumers appreciate honesty when purchasing items online. Furthermore, being honest with your clients shows them that you respect them.
In conclusion, I’m not doing here an exhaustive list of what you should be or shouldn’t be doing. I just want to make you aware of this so you can think about your future actions, choice of tools, data used, etc. If you want to start doing ethical marketing with your customers and respect their data protection rights, it is not too late! Be transparent and think about how you can avoid deceiving your customers. Implementing these principles will help increase customer trust and engagement as well as reduce the risk of a potential lawsuit or penalty from a data protection authority. Have you started doing ethical marketing yet?