Ethical Marketing in a Data-Driven World

In a world that is growing ever more focused on the digital data of our lives, the influence of social media and the data gathering is growing.  Digital marketing today spans every facet of everyone’s’ lives, from the doctors people search for online to the plane tickets they book.  As we share more data, we, as professionals, must consider by what code of ethics we are operating and if they are truly high enough.

In March 2018, news about the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data-gathering scandal broke. It was an awakening for some that were long overdue. From the user standpoint, the reality that the friendly social media platform that made up a large portion of their entertainment, socialization, and even family time was not protecting the user’s data as was assumed. The violation of trust inherent in the breach was enough for many to rethink and/or abandon facebook altogether. From the standpoint of those using digital marketing, it was a wake-up call the fragility of the profit model upon which we rely. However, as we look back 20 months down the line, we have to consider if that awakening was enough.  Have the public users truly understood the risk they put themselves each day? Have we as data gathers truly comprehended the weight of the responsibility we have to protect the data with which we have been entrusted.

Today, social media platforms continue to profit solely on digital marketing and the data they gather, and they are stronger than ever. Facebook remains the number one digital marketing source, offering access to over 1 billion active users each day. By what ethics does Facebook approach the collection of our data? Do they approach it was ethics at all?

When it comes to data collection, this problem is not limited to Facebook. There is little that is done today that cannot somehow be subjected to data mining. As the data access points grow, so does the risk and the greater need for responsibly and ethical guidelines. This is evidenced by the ever-growing stream of data breaches that hit our news streams each week. 


We, as professional markets, are driven by the potential profit inherent in this endless stream of data. However, with this endless stream, there is a growing risk to those we target. On a scale of 1 to 5, where one is safe and five is dangerous, the digital marketing model is tipping into the realm of 5. Indeed, without active participation on the part of the data gathers and digital marketers, to truly hold themselves accountable for the potential devastation that they can indirectly inflict through their lack of ethical and responsible practices, we stand to lose the trust of those who keep us alive today.

It is with this in mind that I recommend the following Code of Ethics:

Be Transparent

If you’re going to share data, be honest about it. Your customer has given YOU their data, not someone else. If the gathering of this data is for the purpose of sharing it with someone else, don’t hide that. Otherwise, you’re violating their trust and risking both bad press and the loss of clientele.

Never Compromise on Security

Breaches happen and chances are it will or has already happened to you. Don’t be made a fool of (again). Security is out there, and it isn’t rocket science to ensure that the data you collect is protected. Do it. It’s worth the expense and will save you the heartache of bad press later.

Know Your Audience

Your ad was never going to appeal to everyone. It is something that everyone knows from the beginning. So, know who it will appeal to and carefully craft your marketing to reach those people. We all have enough spam in our email inboxes as it is. Making each contact point with your customer as meaningful as possible means knowing who your customer is and what it is that interests them.

Know Your Business Partners

Pick who you work with carefully. Know how they work, the social culture of their business, the motivations, and the reputation that they have earned. The way those you partner with act reflects on you.

Use Analytics Wisely

Analytics measures are constantly growing in complexity. Be sure you know how to use them to their fullest and allowing them to provide you with the best information. With this information use it to make good choices on how to move forward. Otherwise, you might miss signs of trouble ahead.

Never Be Complacent

Constantly be questioning if you’re doing enough. Continually consider if the methods of the past are sufficient for today. Hackers get better. Security measure improves. Customers change interests. Business Partners adopt new projects and hire new employees. Every aspect of the world is constantly in flux, don’t be caught out simply because it was what you did in the past. There is no faster road to obsolescence than complacency.

Stay Classy to the End

Working with a professional agency is something that customers appreciate—even when they’re on their way out the door. When a customer requests to end a relationship with you, make it simply and thorough. This is your last chance to make an impression, make it a good one. When a customer doesn’t convert, don’t turn into their worst email spammer. Remember, a reputation is earned through all actions, not just the ones that make money.

Don’t Hide Your Mistakes

If the worst happens and a scandal knock at your door, own it. Make amends for it. Learn from it. Customers understand that mistakes happen and sometimes choices are made that have consequences that were unintended. It is the agencies that are willing to grow from their mistakes that succeed in maintaining trust. Talk about what you did wrong and turn it into a lesson on how your company cares instead of an example of how you don’t.



We’ve all been there.

Logging hours of work building a webpage. Carefully crafting content, ensuring that it is both up-to-date and meaningful. Optimizing keywords, images, and links, to create the desired foundational elements. But no matter what we do, it always seems that the site rankings do not respond as we expect. Knowing that there are TENS OF THOUSANDS of searching happening each second, means we know that the potential to grow is there!

So, what have we missed? What about SEO analytics have we not considered? There are two elements you can consider that may make all the difference.

How secure is my website?

It doesn’t seem like the first element one would consider when looking to increase search ranking, but how secure and fast your website are key elements in both returning good rankings through Google’s SEO analytics, as well as keeping users coming back to your website.


A key SEO enhancement that will launch your rankings ahead is to make sure your website is secure through using HTTPS. HTTPS encrypts data of your website, ensuring that it is not changed or corrupted as it is transmitted. By switching from HTTP to HTTPS, not only do you provide a more safe and secure experience for your site visitors, but you also ensure Google includes that factor in your SEO Ranking and provide more accurate data on referral traffic to Google Analytics. Truly there is no disadvantage to taking the time to make the switch.

How fast is my page load speed?

There is nothing worse than going to a webpage and waiting for it to load. And waiting… And waiting. The truth is, the longer the load time the higher the bounce rate. An often overlooked aspect of SEO ranking analytics is the speed of a website. As a person creating a website, content is often the focus, however, the browsing experience response time of a website is key to keeping visitors engaged. Since 2010, Google has used site load speed as a factor in SEO ranking, and for most website visitors, the difference between a two and three second load time determines whether they will ever return to your site.

So know your speed and optimize it! Regularly checking page load speeds using online tools such as Google’s Pagespeed Insights, is an excellent place to start. Review the page elements to ensure that are adding load time. Enable browser caching so that repeat visitors experience faster load times. Reduce plugins to those truly contribute to the content value of your site. Remember that technical elements, while interesting and innovative, can also hurt more than help. As you explore that the new website integration, be sure to weigh each elements value against the performance of the page as a whole. And while you’re at it,


While high conversion rates are the key indicator of the success of an online marketing campaign, it is the design of the landing page that the weight of that success is truly supported. With skillful design and purposeful customer interaction, landing pages are truly the powerhouse in growing conversions.


A campaign needs focus and purpose, and these are found in your goals and displayed in your call to action. So, know your goals and keep them within view. It is difficult to lose sight of where a project started when you’re in the thick of landing page design and development. However, in order for a campaign to succeed it needs focus and purpose founded on solidly stated goals and displayed through a cleary call to action. So, know your goals, revisit them often, and as you do, ask yourself it the campaign you have meets the needs of your goals.


The value of the voided space on a landing page is key to capturing the attention of an audience and reducing distractions for the call to action of your campaign. In this world of digital overload, customers are bombarded with advertisements at every turn, so as you seek to capture access to their minds and wallets respect the attention they’ve gifted you with. Create content for a landing page that prioritizes the most important content and make it more valuable through decluttering the content. This will both leave the customer with a clear understanding of the content and purpose of the page while also achieving the maximization of the customer’s attention and the effectiveness of the campaign. So resist the urge to fill the space and boldly embrace the void.


It is all too tempting to ask for all the possible information you desire from a customer during a conversion, however bouncing increases with the number of fields in a form. So, when requesting customer information ask yourself not what you want, but what do you need, and restrict yourself to only that. In a world where customers are constantly having to guard data mining, gather less will make conversions more likely.


There is no in-between when it comes to including a video on a landing page. While there is clear and solid evidence that are amazing and powerful tools for increasing conversions, use them with skill or not at all. Placement, length, style, content, and quality all play a role in their effectiveness. They can smoothly capture the attention of the customer and to communicate a message with ease. However, be aware that, while alluring and power videos may be, they come with risk as well. Avoid pitfalls such as using videos that are too long or obscure lingo and never use autoplay. It is better to have no video at all than to have a video that is offputting to the customer. So remember, if you can’t rock it, stop it.


As your customer leaves you, remember this is the moment you will make a final impression upon them. The way a primary conversion concludes seals the tone of the experience as a whole and sets the stage for future interactions and secondary conversions. As you design how closes remember to stay positive, grateful, and encouraging while seeking out further conversions and gathering data.