Why do we tolerate creepy marketing behavior?

I continue to find it amazing that ethics is largely ignored in today’s marketing practices.

In all the rush of social media and growth-driven marketing, behaviors tantamount to violating user privacy have somehow been acceptable.

Any of us would find them utterly objectionable. And yet, so many seem to think they’re OK, or worse, merely part of the reality with the way we do marketing today.

Take user activity tracking, for example. Recently, I decided to open, and then click on a link in one of the dozens of marketing solicitation emails I receive monthly.

Here’s the email I got in response.

Email with message that user is being tracked

Telling someone you’ve been following their activity is just wrong and downright creepy, but also…

  • Immature.
  • Tells the reader you’re really desperate.
  • Indicative of little or no disciplinary control in a company’s marketing operations.

Marketing is, and always should be about honest and professional communication. It’s generally very bad practice to say anything to anyone to the effect of:

  • “We’ve noticed you’ve been… “
  • “You’ve been opening our emails but we haven’t heard from you… “
  • “I see that you’ve visited our website… “

Or any other statement along these lines. It’s basically stalking behavior and ruins a company’s reputation in the eye of the recipient.

Needless to say, I did reply, and rather strongly:

Response to email about being tracked

Somehow, many have been led to believe that just because Google and social media networks actively track users, it’s OK for others to do so. Not true at all!

I’ve seen tracking creepiness from not only small marketing companies but also much larger businesses. You’d be truly surprised.

It’s time to start growing up and recognize unprofessional behavior. Maybe it’s time for us to start publicly outing companies and individuals engaging in this practice.