Is Cybersecurity the Death of Digital Marketing?

Marketing has evolved tremendously since my days in college as an eager student. I listened intently as my professor explained things like the 4 P’s of marketing and mutually beneficial relationships, paired with acronyms like, WIFM and MRR. While these were relevant at the time, and still are in many aspects, things have changed… to say the least.

Facebook is the new Yellow Pages, and SEO is the new TV commercial. In other words, it’s technology or bust, baby. Marketing teams are now comprised of developers, engineers, and just all-around techy people. Job descriptions for “digital marketing manager” can barely fit into a Linked In post. Many organizations are having to create jobs to cover their basic marketing needs, but with a more technical twist. And while this candidate seems ideal to the CMO, often these people (and these positions) don’t even exist (yet).

It’s true that technology is fueling marketing agendas, strengthening communication, and creating a space where literally anything is possible. But, to this reward comes great risk, and as a starry-eyed marketing team, awareness means so much more these days when it comes to cyber breaches within a company.

Awareness leads to ROI… but also hackers

While the role of marketing has evolved, its goal has remained consistent: awareness.

So, what happens when your goal as a department is awareness, but this said awareness could potentially cause more harm than good? Enter the complicated relationship status of marketing and cybersecurity.

With an ever-growing need and move toward technology, marketers are at risk from the moment they craft that clever Tweet to when they hit send on their drip campaign. An exposed, vulnerable, easy-target just waiting to be attacked. Sharing passwords without a secure line like LastPass can quickly turn into a hacker’s dream come true. Submitting payments for upcoming tradeshows or sharing documents via Slack can all go from collaboration to corroboration… against your company.

“The marketing technology map today is dizzying, and the increase in technology solutions can expose companies to a great deal of risk. With the pressure on marketing teams to do more with less and to demonstrate program ROI, marketers are eager for new technology solutions to optimize their campaigns and to work more efficiently and effectively. But these solutions are not without risk.” (Forbes.com)

That begs the question: In 2019, is it possible to be a great digital marketer without all the risk? It is. You just have to be one smart cookie.

Tracking cookies are crumbling

Cookies, while a difficult New Year’s resolution to quit, were until recently an easy trail for any marketing team to follow. Now with increased security risks and international laws, people have the right to be tracked if they wish via the Cookie Law. While this is an incredibly smart safety feature, it puts a huge roadblock in the way of digital marketing.

Not that cookies are the only way to run a successful digital marketing plan, but it does pose the question of, “where do we go from here?” The answer? Build your team so that IT and marketing can exist together in a safe, secure relationship  environment.

Build your flock

We as marketers must prove ROI over and over again; with our team, our technology, and our tactics. But how can this happen when some typical, often successful marketing tactics are now considered risky?

“It is critical that the marketing organization understands the importance of working with IT on security protocols when introducing new technology to the organization for the security of the overall business.”

Little things like mentioning not to open an email or implementing mandatory use of security programs is the fastest way to avoid a future issue. Something as simple as saying, “Hey, if you see an email from me asking for money, I can promise you it is not really from me. I will never send that in an email.” (Something my CEO recently said on a work call, but it made sense. Lots of sense.)

Can marketing be successful and still be safe? Can it “swipe right” on the proverbial seesaw of safety and satisfaction, or is it a friends-without-benefits sort of thing? A relationship that keeps volleying over a net of exposure barely able to skim the top without being pummeled to the ground can’t survive, can it? The answer is Yes. Very strongly, Yes.

We just might not be compatible… ¯\(ツ)

Where do we go from here? Such is life, you win some you lose some. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s over between cybersecurity and marketing. It simply means, like all things, it must evolve. Work with your IT team on ways to improve security, especially when introducing new technology or bringing on new employees. Alongside budgets, social media calendars, and tradeshow requests, marketers need to now include a security plan. Teams need to be trained, protocols put into place (two-factor anyone?), and real conversations need to be had on how to properly work in a technical space.

It’s easy to fall back on old habits (and we all know those die hard) but simple things like keeping passwords in an Excel doc inside your Google Drive needs to never happen again. Create a protocol for a security breach, hand employees company laptops with safety programs already installed, train your less techy-team on things that should be shared versus things that you need to just not. Digital marketing as a whole is going to continue to change and these hackers, aka people looking for vulnerability, are going to as well.

Denielle Kennett

Denielle Kennett
Multi-tasking Wizard
LinkedIn