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Unethical Marketing: 5 Bad Business Practices For Internet Marketers To Avoid

Updated on January 12, 2013

 Internet marketing gets a bad name because so many marketers believe that to compete with others for the same customers, they must use unethical marketing practices aimed at deceiving, hard-selling and simply annoying customers.

Some marketers make such fools of themselves with their marketing campaigns that you wish someone would define ethics for them. “What are ethics?” they must be wondering as they wallow in their cesspools.

Fortunately, good marketing ethics are easy to learn. All you have to do is treat people well, be honest with them and offer them fair deals. That’s all. It’s as simple as that.

Avoiding unethical marketing is as easy as avoiding the following practices. While unethical business practices may sometimes get you a sale or two, your success with be short-lived, and you may even leave some customers so unsatisfied that you have to refund them, wasting everyone’s time.

Here are five unethical marketing practices to avoid when offering products and services on the Internet.

1. Sending spam emails.

Sending spam emails is perhaps the most unethical business practice in Internet marketing today. These useless emails intrude into people’s lives, making them angry -- not open to purchasing. And many savvy email users have a strict policy of avoiding companies who spam, forever closing the door to a sale for your company.

It’s hard to measure how much damage spam can do to you company, but its impact is so huge your business might never recover from even one spam campaign.

2. Overusing autoresponders.

Some Internet marketers still promote the use of autoresponders, but these devices are really just relics of the Internet’s past. While using an autoresponder to send one email in response to a customer’s request might be okay, why not just direct the customer to a website where you can control formatting and still customize the message?

Sending repeated automatic email messages over the course of several days makes customers tire of your company and it’s message -- eliminating the chance of a sale.

3. Hiding pricing.

Making customers scroll to the bottom of a sales page to find a buried price is a common unethical marketing practice. Marketing gurus justify this by saying some customers who might be immediately scared away by a high price could accept it once they see how much value is offered.

But most customers simply scroll to the bottom of the page first -- without reading the text -- and find the price to see if is within their budget. If it isn’t, you can’t sell them anything anyway. If you offer a fair price, you have nothing to be ashamed of and shouldn’t hide your pricing.

4. Providing fake or incomplete contact information.

Many people won’t make a purchase without emailing the seller first to ask some questions and verify that the offer still stands. When you stumble upon a deal on a website, how do you know the offer is still valid? How do you know your money won’t be shuttled to an unattended PayPal account, never to be seen again? Customers sometimes ask question even if they don’t want to know the answer -- just to make sure a company is responsive.

A good, attended email account is a minimum requirement. A phone number where someone will always answer and a mailing address are great additions. Share your real name, too, if you can.

5. Delivering less than your best.

Every customer who pays your agreed price deserves to get at least what he or she paid for, and most will think better of a company that over-delivers. When you deliver less than your best product or service to a client, you’re putting their repeat business in jeopardy --and risking retaliation.

While people used to only tell a few friends about their dissatisfaction with a company, many Internet buyers have blogs and Facebook accounts where they can tell hundreds or thousands of people which products and services they like -- and which companies have shafted them.

If your company stays away from these five unethical business practices and focuses on treating people well by giving them honest, fair deals, you and your company can become respected players in your industry.

Respect is something few businesses have -- and it’s something unethical marketing can assure you never get.

Books About Unethical Marketing Practices


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