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Ethics Of Marketing

Ethics of Online Marketing

Ethics of Online Marketing

An Overview

Online marketing is a very power full tool, however, we need to understand the ethics of online marketing. Here we will be exploring the major digital marketing ethics, brand morality, and other ethical issues. Ethical behaviors, values, and norms in business vary around the globe.

However, keeping a close eye on ethical issues is important, or else it might affect the marketing environment and activities. With the growing demand for digital marketing, we need to take into consideration the professional and ethical behaviors while interacting on different online marketing platforms.

In the digital space, marketers are becoming more anxious about profitability and competition. They are showing negligence in ethical practices because making money is their only focus. Therefore, it would be wise to consider the following ethical traditions:

  • Virtue ethics:

Ethics of virtue accesses the rightness and wrongness of a person’s actions and teaches us to act virtuously.

  • Duty-based ethics:

Duty-based or deontological ethics teach us to do the right thing regardless of negative or positive consequences.

  • Utilitarianism:

It is a theory of morality that focuses on maximizing the number of good things in the world. Moreover, digital marketers have started putting utilitarianism marketing into practice.

4 consequences of unethical online marketing behaviors:

Consequences of age-old marketing tactics and unethical behaviors on business are:

  1. Customer relations and customer service
  2. Damaged company reputation
  3. Increased employee attrition rate.
  4. Mocking competition in marketing.

What Are Ethical Rules And Why Do We Need To Follow Them?

To run a successful online marketing business and manage your online reputation, the few ethical issues to take into account are as follows:

Valid Product Information:

Exaggerating the features or benefits of a product means that you are being dishonest with your audience. The product description should include complete and relevant details about its quality, quantity, delivery time, size, appearance, or ingredients (if any).

When marketing and selling a product, manage all the data, reviews, content, and description wisely, be as honest as possible. An accurate and authentic view of product data builds a strong business relationship with customers, whereas misleading information regarding products will make your business lose customers.

False statements and promises:

Online marketers sometimes make unethical decisions such as making misleading business advertising promises. They should always take full responsibility for any claim that they make regarding a service or promotion. For fraud prevention, the Federal Trade Commission takes legal actions against false statements.

Once, “scientifically proven” and “clinical studies show” were forcefully removed from the product description of the famous “Activia Yogurt”. The company also had to pay $45 million after someone complained about them. Misrepresentation in advertising is one of the biggest ethical issues in online marketing.

Lack of transparency:

Staying transparent in such a crowded and famous market source has become very tough. Lack of transparency is one of the top consumer problems and they usually switch to the brands that offer more transparency.

Unfortunately, online marketers are still failing to understand the need for transparency. Transparency in paid collaborations has been increased after the hashtags such as “#ad” and “sponsored” have been mentioned in the list of social media advertising rules.

Also, they need to be very careful towards management and creative fee transparency, as it helps in building trust with clients. Online marketers can reach high ethical standards if they focus on transparency factors.

Privacy concerns:

Consumer privacy concerns are making internet marketers feel under pressure. Unlawfully extracting data and data mining are examples of online privacy violations. Companies should maintain an adequate level of data protection for the satisfaction of their customers.

Around 73% of companies use the personal information of consumers without informing them. Consumers also worry about the high threats of data breaches. Moreover, major privacy issues involved in marketing via email are:

  • The gathered information is not kept secure.
  • Phishing attacks and scamming.
  • Spamming in email marketing.

The most effective way to build consumer trust is consent-based marketing and gated offers. These gated offers reduce violation of privacy laws, prevent data breaches, and build brand loyalty.

Comparison marketing:

Discrediting someone else’s product for your benefit is another ethical dilemma. Marketers should know the difference between healthy and unhealthy competition.

In general, healthy competition is good for marketing but mocking your competitors and mentioning them by name in an advertisement are the most unprofessional things to do. Plus, another strategy such as brand storytelling is way more effective than comparison marketing.

Online marketing to children:

The most impactful marketing tactic is to generate advertising content that appeals to children. Companies are targeting children online to sell and promote their products.

Online marketers know how beneficial pester power is for them, so they always take advantage of this golden opportunity. Recently, many laws have been applied to online marketing directed towards children.


Taking everything into account, it is obvious that maintaining ethics in online marketing is important for building consumer trust. Therefore, companies are focusing on the implementation mechanism of ethics.

They are hiring responsible and ethical marketers to improve their market position. The online marketing teams now avoid strategies such as unethical comparisons, privacy violations, and exaggerated product details.

Check out our article“Digital Marketing as a Career Choice”

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