Digital Marketing Ethics

Why Morality Matters to Marketers

Digital marketing ethics, to some, sounds like a joke. Why should for-profit companies be beholden to the standards of individuals? Especially in sectors that lack meaningful, intellectual substance, like the entertainment and clothing industries, why is something that may hurt their bottom line worth caring about?


An Evolving Market

Of course, we’re playing devil’s advocate here because ethics in all fields is important to society, but how do we convince businesses that digital marketing ethics should even matter, when it’s likely to hurt production and ROI? Isn’t the end goal to make a lot of money, and not care about how customers even feel about a certain issue?


The problem (or I guess, the solution) is, that’s changing. People used to separate products and ethics, but now they expect a brand to be in line with decency and humanness. Consumers are more in tune with how a product reaches the shelf and how it’s marketed. We agree that even faceless corporations should operate with some sort of heart, an obvious, yet relatively new concept. Even though businesses aren’t doing it for the likes on Facebook, holding companies (like Facebook, for example!) accountable for their mistakes, their prejudices, their model of ethics, is a bigger deal than it was thirty years ago.


Drawing the Line

Should companies be punished for bad behavior? And if so, to what extent? We aren’t here to answer these questions, but real-world scenarios show that the answer to the first question is a resounding yes, according to the internet. As for the second question, the internet has a habit of taking things too far too often. So when companies slip up (Pepsi and H&M, looking at you), they won’t hear the end of it for at least a year. We’re pretty vengeful as a society, and it’s become easier to voice our opinions, for better or worse.


This is nowhere more relevant than in the sector of digital marketing ethics. Standards are changing, and even the way a product markets itself is more inclined to be socially conscious. With recent changes to GDPR, emailing campaigns have to be reworked too. Consumers have made it clear that, even though businesses will save money on production through shady tactics, or by creating disingenuous ads that cater to political tension, they will lose much more by being unethical.

What Can Businesses Do?

Let’s be honest: governing bodies rarely prosecute or penalize businesses that violate gray areas when it comes to this kind of thing. This is especially true for banks and other financial institutions. But they won’t be saved from social consequences. Consumers don’t like to be lied to, or feel like they’ve been cheated. So what’s our best advice? Keep it clean. Keep it genuine. Your customers will thank you (or at least, they won’t call you out).


Want to know more about how LumberPress is marketing digitally (the right way)? Check us out at our site here!