The Importance of Cybersecurity in Digital Marketing: How to Stop the 3 Top Threats
(Episode 2 of 2 with Kathleen Booth)
Welcome back to another episode with Kathleen Booth. In the last episode, we discussed how coupon extensions can erode our profit margins, how we can protect against coupon extensions, and how to use coupons effectively. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss three of the biggest threats in cybersecurity and how to protect ourselves from them. We’ll also discuss credibility marketing through influencers, recurring revenue streams that use emotional connections, and how HubSpot uses passion marketing.
Why Should Digital Marketers Care about Cybersecurity?
Data shows that today’s marketers have bigger IT budgets than IT leaders do. If marketers are spending the bulk of the organization’s IT money, they should understand how to protect that investment. Marketers also own the company brand, so they should be able to protect brand user experience.
Kathleen said, “These are all crucial, crucial things for marketers. Understanding at least the basics about cybersecurity — which most marketers don’t understand, it’s not something we were ever taught we needed to know — is very important. It runs everything from making sure your website won’t get hacked to making sure that you’re not compromising the personally identifiable information of your customers. It’s so vital for marketers to develop some expertise in this area.”
Top Security Threats and How to Protect Against Them
In the first episode with Kathleen, we discussed how a hacker getting into our website and wiping everything is very rare, but it is something we still need to protect against.
We, as entrepreneurs and digital marketers, will likely never be true cybersecurity experts. We’re probably never going to be writing the code that protects our companies. So we need to hire an expert who can do that. We can turn to this person for help to make sure that we’re architecting our IT stack and our marketing stack in the right way so it’s secure.
This person can be an internal person such as the head of IT or it can be an outsourced managed security services provider (mssp). Regardless, we need to make sure we have someone who can help us with our cybersecurity and check on the security aspects of the software that we’re purchasing, especially as it integrates with the rest of our company systems.
When it comes to our website, we should understand all the different code that we are putting on it and that operates on it. With the way modern websites are built, we deliberately allow a lot of third-party code, whether that’s a plugin that we want to put on our site to add some functionality to it, a theme (if we’re building on WordPress for example and we purchase a theme that’s third party code), or a script (like a Facebook tracking pixel or Google Analytics scripts).
We deliberately put this third-party code on our sites, so we need to really understand whether or not we’re getting code from a trusted provider. We also need to understand that it’s not a one time thing. We can’t put it on the website and then forget it; we have to monitor it.
About a year and a half ago, there was a major announcement by the US government that a particular WordPress theme, which had been sold by a trusted marketplace, had been created by a hacking group to specifically harvest personally identifiable information (PII) from the websites where it was installed. It was on hundreds of thousands of websites.
We have to pay attention to the third-party code we use, or we have to have somebody who’s paying attention for us.
Social engineering, in cybersecurity terms, means being aware of the information that we’re putting out into the world about ourselves, our company, or the other people at the company, and being aware of how that makes us vulnerable. People are the biggest point of vulnerability for any company when it comes to hacking. Often we let the attacker in, and we don’t even know it, such as through clicking on a bad link in a phishing email.
When Kathleen was head of marketing for a cybersecurity company, the CEO and head of sales went to a conference in Georgia together. They sent her a picture of themselves working in a booth at the conference, and, like any good head of marketing, Kathleen tagged them in a post on LinkedIn that said, “Here’s our CEO and our head of sales working in the booth at the conference in Georgia.”
Less than 15 minutes after she made the post, one of their newest employees got an email from what looked like the CEO. It said something like, “Hey, I’m at this conference in Georgia. Could you please run out and get me $500 and gift cards? I really need them now,” with instructions for how to send the gift cards.
The employee did it, but it wasn’t the CEO. Someone had seen the post and therefore knew exactly who was in Georgia and the name of the conference. All they had to do was go to the company’s LinkedIn page, see who the most recent person to join the company was, and target that person through their email.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t make those kinds of posts, but we must be aware of the opening those kinds of posts create for somebody who’s willing to take advantage of it. We need to train our teams so they know that those kinds of things can happen. We also need to put policies in place that protect against those things. After that experience, Kathleen’s company created a policy that they don’t buy gift cards unless they’ve spoken about it in person or on the phone with the CEO.
Credibility Marketing Through Influencers
Kathleen has seen a rise in the need for credibility marketing. She said, “Any company can have corporate marketing, but you need to invest in building up the personal brands of your executives.”
This is a type of influencer marketing: internal influencer marketing. Executives can build their personal brands by going on podcasts, being a thought leader on LinkedIn, posting their perspective, hosting their own podcast, writing blogs, etc.
“Having a personal brand and a point of view, being out there, not being afraid to be honest, but also making sure you’re authentic to who you are and to the vision of the company and the mission and the values is really important,” Kathleen said.
Personal brands can be very powerful and can give us a lot of credibility. When people see who we are and our ideas, they can connect with us. They’ll want to follow us as well as our company.
There is also external influencer marketing, which Kathleen implemented with her agency 10 years ago. The shift from platforms like Apple and Google to deprecate third party cookies means we’re not going to be able to do targeting through that. We can, however, target people through the influencers they follow.
Kathleen was trying to help a doctor sell more LASIK surgery. Most people wouldn’t think to use influencer marketing for this because it’s surgery, something that people won’t do on impulse. There has to be a high degree of trust behind it.
They found a Facebook influencer who used to be a weatherperson. He had a large following in the area where the doctor was based, and he also didn’t have perfect vision and had always thought about LASIK.
They reached out to him and said, “Hey, this doctor would love to do free LASIK on you. We’re not gonna pay you, but you’ll get a free surgery as long as you’re willing to talk about your experience.” They didn’t tell him he had to rave about it. They wanted him to be honest.
He agreed to do it. When it was time for the surgery, he vlogged his experience before and after the surgery. His followers were blown away. Many commented things like, “I’ve always thought about this and now, seeing your great experience, I’m going to do it.” The doctor got a ton of new surgeries from it, and they still work together eight years later.
“At the heart of everything as businesses, what we’re selling is trust. It doesn’t matter what your product is, somebody has to trust you to buy from you. If you can find somebody else who already has established trust with the audience that you’re trying to reach, there’s a halo effect. . . . That trust will be transferred to you because of that relationship you have with the influencer. It just speeds up what otherwise could be a very long process of building that trust,” Kathleen said.
Emotional Connection and Recurring Revenue
Kathleen gave an example of a recurring revenue model that any business can use no matter what it sells. From software to soda, many traditional businesses are trying this model. The model is building a media brand around the business, building a community, and then monetizing that.
This is what Gwyneth Paltrow does with Goop and what Chip and Joanna Gaines do with Magnolia. They established an audience first and then they have people waiting to buy the next product.
We can also do subscriptions, but we may want to think about doing a membership model instead. As Kathleen said, “Subscribers want to constantly get value. If they don’t constantly get it, they churn. . . . By contrast, the membership model is a recurring revenue model, but it’s not based on consistent value. It’s based on wanting to be a part of something bigger than yourself, a feeling of belonging, a belief in a mission or a vision. Members pay regularly but don’t churn as soon as they stop getting value because they’re there more to be a part of the movement than they are to get value on a regular basis.”
When Kathleen lived in DC, she subscribed to the Washington Post. She stopped having time to read it, so she cancelled her subscription. In recent years, the Washington Post introduced the slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness”, which made them more mission oriented than they had been. Kathleen resubscribed even though she doesn’t read it very often because she believes in the mission.
“Give people something emotional to connect with, and they’ll be less likely to churn,” Kathleen said.
How HubSpot Uses Passion Marketing
Passion marketing is when a business markets using the things their customers are most passionate about — their level-10 passions. It is a great way to connect to customers and get them invested in a company. Kathleen shared HubSpot as a great example of a company who has done passion marketing well. It isn’t one that many people would think of because most people think B2B software is boring.
However, Kathleen was a HubSpot agency partner for 11 years, and she was astounded by how passionate the community is. She described the language they use as dramatic; they talk about “bleeding orange” and “drinking the orange Kool-Aid.”
Kathleen said, “It’s because they showed people a vision of what the world used to be like before . . . [and] of what the world could be like. It was this transformation story that they told. Is it the most exciting thing in the world? Perhaps not, but it got a lot of people really excited and it gave them something to really believe in. The narrative they had was that the way marketing had always been done was broken, and that there was a better way and a better future that was better for the marketer and better for the buyer.”
HubSpot built a passionate community through the story they told. HubSpot is a great example of the emotional connection we discussed above. They acquired Hustle, a big newsletter, and built a media brand around their company to help connect to their community.
Thank you so much Kathleen for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
1.If marketers are spending the bulk of the organization’s IT money, they should understand how to protect that investment. Marketers also own the company brand, so they should be able to protect brand user experience.
2. We should hire a cybersecurity expert that we can turn to with our cybersecurity questions and problems.
3. We deliberately put third-party code on our sites. We should understand whether or not we’re getting a code from a trusted provider.
4. We need to be aware of how information we’re putting out into the world about ourselves, our company, or the other people at the company makes us vulnerable to social engineering.
5. Both internal and external influencers can be a great way to gain credibility.
6. Memberships and communities surrounding our brand can be a great way to set up recurring revenue streams.
Connect with Kathleen
To learn more about or connect with Kathleen:
- Connect on LinkedIn
2. Visit her website at Clean.io
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