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Online Marketing and Privacy: The Scary Truth

Posted by Deborah Young

The Scary Truth About Online Marketing, Privacy And Your Web Browser’s Auto-Fill FeatureWith all the recent news about the NSA and government surveillance, a lot of people are thinking more about online security and privacy these days. And those of us at 1424 look at this question from different - and seemingly competing - angles. First, one of our main objectives as a business is to help our clients get found on the Internet and to engage customers and potential customers in a meaningful dialog. But you know what? We are also consumers who have the same concerns as anyone else about our online privacy and security. And from a business perspective we worry about yours as well.

So, how do you balance these "competing" privacy concerns?

As a business, we are always completely up front about what information we're gathering and what we plan to do with that information. (For the record, when you share your information with us it stays with us. We will never disclose your information to a third party.) We wear a snowy white online marketing hat - and we believe every other business should as well. It's the right thing to do and it's good for business. In the long run, when you play by the rules with the search engines, you'll have better and lasting results.

As a consumer, you need to exercise your own good judgment and be vigilant about sniffing out black- or even gray-hat practices used by companies online. That's never easy - and sometimes it's just plain hard. Here's a good example.

The auto-fill feature in your web browser

Convenient? Absolutely. Isn't it great to be able to type the first letter of your name and then click on the auto-fill feature? Boom. Look ma, no hands required to complete the rest of that online form, usually with your name, email address and maybe your snail mail address and phone number. It's a real time saver.

And you could be disclosing way more information about yourself than you intended.

If you have credit card or bank account information memorized, for example, it's possible for an unscrupulous company to include a field in an online form requesting that sort of information but to hide it from view. When you click on auto-fill, your browser "sees" that hidden field and will dump in your information if you've included it as part of the data your browser "remembers" for the auto-fill feature.

Scary, huh? Here's a good article about the topic that also includes a live example from Joost de Valk. He is a trusted resource for 1424, so you can play with that link with confidence.

Knowledge is power - and now you have just a little more power to keep your private and confidential information just that ... private.


P.S. If you're looking for a little help, our strategic marketing consulting is designed to show you the online marketing strategies that help keep the customers you have while generating more and better leads. That process begins when we improve search engine ranking, devise the best social media campaigns, develop your app or put other mobile online marketing strategies to work for your business.

About Deborah Young

Deborah Young

Deborah is a reformed tennis bum and inbound marketing strategist whose main professional purpose is to support local business owners, experts and entrepreneurs by helping them understand the impact and importance of online marketing. She is one happy camper when she can help clients be more visible on the Internet, increase their own customer base and become more profitable. How can she help you?

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