Ethics are something that every business aims to have in every facet of their business. They want their staff to be ethical, their practices, and even their customers.
But what about their digital marketing? Is there a guideline or protocol for how to make sure you’re marketing your products in the most ethical way? Read on to learn the ins and outs of ethical marketing, and why it’s the best option for your business.
What is Ethical Marketing?
There is no single way to describe ethical marketing, for it’s a multi-faceted term that has various applications in the digital marketing world.
But, in a nutshell, you would say that ethical marketing is a philosophy. It’s making sure that in all parts of your digital marketing plan, you’re thinking about what’s honest, what’s responsible, and what’s fair.
The problem is, the term ‘ethics’ is incredibly abstract. What one company may see as “ethical,” another may not. Even customers of those businesses may have varying views about what they see as an ethical form of digital marketing. They can then form their own opinion of the company based on their beliefs.
Ethical Marketing Principles
While ethics can be subjective in a variety of marketing avenues, there are a few blanket principals you can apply to your digital marketing strategy. And if you’re not sure if you’re on the right track, then a company skilled in such marketing methods can also lend a helping hand.
- Open and honest discussion in all marketing decisions
- A common standard of truth
- Transparency in who a marketer pays for product endorsement
- Fairness to consumers on who is marketed to
- Abiding by a high standard of personal ethics
- Compliance with government and professional organisation standards
- A defining line between news, entertainment, and advertising
- Consumer privacy
What is Unethical Marketing?
Digital marketing is a marathon rather than a sprint. Still, some businesses are eager to get to the top of Google search results or to see instant results. So, they resort to unethical marketing practices that don’t necessarily paint their business in the best light.
You may be wondering how you can spot an unethical marketing practice, especially since what you define as ethical is not concrete. Fortunately, most marketing specialists in New Zealand can help with that. They will even formulate ad campaigns that are entirely ethical and offer the best chance of conversion.
Some examples of unethical digital advertising practices include:
- Exaggeration – false claims about a product. An example of this would be “this coffee can keep you awake for days”.
- Puffery – rather than objective claims, an advertiser acts subjectively. An example could be “the warmest socks in the world” but not being able to back up that claim.
- False comparisons – comparing two brands (your own vs. competition) with a misleading or inaccurate claim.
- Unverified claims – making a claim, but not explaining how.
Black Hat Marketing
This then leads us onto black hat marketing, which is a form of unethical internet marketing that can destroy a company’s online presence when caught out by Google.
Once again, digital marketing is about playing the long game to see results. It can take the best SEO practices over a length of time to deliver the results the business desires.
However, through choosing the wrong SEO and marketing specialist in NZ, or by making unethical choices, some businesses may find themselves dabbling in black hat marketing.
This form of marketing offers near-immediate results, but by using both unethical and sometimes illegal practices. On the other side of black hat is white hat, which an ethical strategy that marketing companies adopt.
What Black Hat Marketing Aims to Achieve
Black hat marketers set out to trick search engines into offering a higher ranking in search engine results. It does this by showing web pages for commonly searched phrases that may not relate to the term being searched.
For example, you might be searching for “top marketing specialists in NZ,” but a shoe store using that term might show up in the search results instead. The goal of such a technique is to drive as much traffic to the website as possible.
Given that search engine reputations can suffer from not offering what people are looking for, they take a hard-line approach to punish those who adopt black hat practices.
What Are Some of the Common Black Hat Marketing Strategies?
It’s essential to be aware of unethical marketing practices so that you know what you shouldn’t do when it comes to marketing your business. These are unethical practices that you would never find a reputable NZ marketing agency using.
- Stuffing keywords into hidden text, tags, and no-scripts
- Increasing the volume of inbound links by using pages dedicated to listing links. This process is called link farming.
- Showing different websites to what the keywords outlined – in a process known as cloaking.
- Stuffing meta tags with keywords in what is commonly referred to as meta keyword stuffing.
- Creating blogs with no original content. This involves taking articles from other publishers to generate traffic. You may hear this process referred to as “splogging” or a “scraper blog”.
- Secretly loading a user’s computer with fraudulent cookies, even if they don’t click on a link. This process is called cookie stuffing – and not in the delicious way.
Best Digital (and Ethical) Marketing Strategies
While black hat and unethical digital marketing techniques may shoot your page to the top of the search results, you won’t be there for long. Both immoral and illegal marketing techniques can see your website banned from even appearing in search results.
Therefore, it’s always in your best interest to adopt sound and ethical marketing techniques. You can plan these out yourself, or rely on an SEO company in NZ to help.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of ethical digital marketing. It allows you to improve your search ranking, generate leads, increase sales, and improve exposure and traffic.
The key to a successful social media marketing campaign is consistency and quality. Fortunately, there are plenty of digital marketing companies in NZ that can offer tips and tricks on how to work on this.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing / Google AdWords
Sales-ready leads are something that every business owner aspires to have, and that’s what PPC marketing can offer. Why not talk to your local marketing expert about how to use PPC marketing to your advantage?
This form of ethical marketing allows you to reach targeted customers and without waiting for results. Your return on investment (ROI) is also quite high, as you only pay when an interested potential customer clicks on the link.
Given the complexities behind setting up a successful PPC campaign, it’s worth checking in with a marketing guru to get the best results.
Search Engine Optimisation
You might think that building a pretty website is enough to get the customers visiting in their droves, but it takes more than that. Search engine optimisation can be paramount. Adopting the best on-page SEO strategies can be a recipe for success, but it can also take expert assistance.
- A unique domain name
- A country code top level domain (.co.nz, .nz)
- Adding keywords to your title tags and meta descriptions
- Using keywords at the front of your title tags
- Adding keywords to H1 tags
- Removing duplicate content from your site
- Adding long-tail keywords to your site
- Creating SEO-friendly URLs
- Updating your content often
- Optimising your images with metadata and correct sizing
- Using a keyword in the first paragraph of your content
- Adding internal links and high-authority outbound links
- Checking spelling and grammar
- Having an SSL certificate
There are dozens of best practices in the realm of search engine marketing, so don’t be afraid to spend a bit of time learning the ins and outs of the marketing world.
How to Get Started with Ethical Marketing
It can be quite overwhelming to get to grips with marketing strategies you can and can’t adopt. The last thing any business owner wants is to lose the gains they have made through practices they didn’t realise were not ethical.
One of the best ways to start your new digital advertising journey on the right track is by enlisting the help of an E-marketing expert. Form a plan, learn what approaches work the best, and watch as those customer leads roll in.