Ethical Digital Marketing

Hi there!

I’d like to know, what are your opinions about Ethics and Digital Marketing? Do you use “traditional” methods (e.g. ads, e-mail marketing, cold calls…) for getting new clients?

Just curious about the intersection of these two things.

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Look at traditional capitalist measures and do the opposite of that.


Kinda sorta related interesting post on this from Open Collective:

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Could you elaborate?

Sure :smile:

Focus more with creating human bonds with people who have similar goals to yourself. Help your friends and family with their tech woes. Go to community tech events and be nice to people. Seek out cool online communities. Follow leads but don’t nag people. Work on building relationships with other co-ops even if they are operating in a similar area to yourself.

This has been working out pretty well for us.

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I delivered an open-source marketing automation (MA) package to a couple of clients over the years. In both instances, the choice for using MA vs traditional email/cold-call, etc. was we could employ all of the good stuff like double-opt-in, but if a recipient didn’t read the email sent to them, we’d send a reminder a month or two later and then stop if that wasn’t read. However, if the recipients do engage with the content, then there’s email being sent to them - with the logic previously mentioned being applicable at all stages of their ‘journey’.

I think GDPR has done some good for the marketing sector too.

With regards to my ethical stance on digital marketing. I abhor the whole ‘sales’ process, so if someone finds the website for one of my clients and types their email address into the ‘contact us’ box, going through double-opt-in, and they read the emails sent to them. They’re the driver for their level of engagement. So if they’re driving it, I would say we’re doing OK.

With the caveat that the logic/decision making for sending emails is considerately timed, the language used is plain and useful/informative/interesting, there’s no harassment of the recipients with difficult-to-see unsubscribe functionality and such like.

Shout if you’d like to discuss more :slight_smile:

So, ‘relationship marketing’ (industry jargon)? … indeed a very traditional and successful approach used by by sales teams (of all flavors) since the year dot :slight_smile:

Truth, think you’d struggle to find an approach that hasn’t been exploited. Perhaps then the challenge isn’t so much the means as the end?

Yeh I’m not saying it’s not thing but I am saying that the more tedious elements of marketing such as cold calling and online advertising can be totally ineffective at building really meaningful relationships.

Indeed, get that. Challenge is, relationship marketing is resource- intensive (you have to ‘be there’) which makes it difficult to scale. Unless you’re in a high value/premium discipline where your returns can justify that effort, and/or you get your reward from just being engaged, most have to resort to proxy forms of relationship; introductions done by email rather than in person, dialog through newsletters etc. Each one poorer than being personal, but still workable.

Suppose, moral of the story is; if you’re going to invest, do so knowing your tools and try to act as best you can in the interest of all…

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I guess A little UK co-op tour is “relationship marketing” in some way, not that that is the purpose of my trip (it’s mostly an adventure I think, keeping my mind active/challenged) - but it fits in with my whole-life approach - generally building relationships on a personal/ideological level without clear goals/outcomes and hoping/trusting that good things follow.

I recently found there is a more scientific expression of a similar concept —> (or youtube vid version, they say (with evidence!) that:

we would be wiser (and the outcomes better) if instead we whole-heartedly embraced serendipitous discovery and playful creativity

Which approach works in a given context or which approach you should take is an entirely different matter. Maybe cold-calling other co-ops works great!


Hi again!

I’m glad it has triggered such an interesting thread of comments!

After reading all of them, my conclusion is that marketing techniques are ethical as long as you answer yes to the following question: would you do this in person?

For example, the article Josef linked talks about retargeting. If you were talking with someone face to face about a service you offer and this person leaves your shop and enters another one opposite the street, would you call the owner of this shop and told them to try to sell your services to them? However, in some ocassions we may regret having lost a potential client for not making them the right offer or not being open to negociate enough, and this can be a solution for it.

I don’t agree with what the article says about not building profiles of your services users, for example, for showing them relevant ads. For me this is like not reading the previous emails you have exchanged with a client before offering them a new service or not tracking if they have opened the emails you have sent, you are missing important information.

Related with the relationship marketing you talked about, I think it is needed but limited, not only in time. It is essential to collaborate and build meaninful relationships with other organizations and potential clients, but at some point you may need to scale and reach people who are not so accesible. In this cases, would you consider ethical to post ads in devil organizations like Google, Facebook or Linkedin?

Thanks, Pau.