Let’s acknowledge it: digital marketing is a fiercely competitive industry. The leading marketers are always looking over their shoulders to see who is catching up, and everyone keeps sneaking peeks over each other’s shoulders for ways to come out on top.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is arguably the most important tool in a digital marketer’s kit for two reasons. It first encrypts your data to make it indecipherable to outsiders and then routes all your network traffic via your VPN’s private router instead of your internet service provider (ISP).
The result? You can connect to the internet without exposing your IP address. More importantly, everything you do on the internet (the files you download, websites you visit, apps you use) remains private.
Why are these two functions so critical to digital marketers? Like many ‘weapons,’ VPNs can be used either defensively or offensively.
3 Ways Digital Marketers Can Use A VPN For Defense
Marketers are often privately conflicted about internet data privacy. They know how data gets sold and traded between marketing companies. They need data to do their jobs, but at the same time, most digital marketers don’t themselves want to become the same easy lunch as their data subjects.
Your Privacy Comes First
When you put it in that light, data privacy activists have the right to it. Your private data is yours, unlike this unfortunate Catholic priest, and it is your right to protect it with a VPN. When you use a VPN, the activities on your connection remain private.
Cybersecurity, Uh Oh!
Here’s the blunt truth: Whenever you connect to free or public Wi-Fi in a hotel, cafe, or restaurant without a VPN, you play Russian Roulette. The chances of proverbially getting hit by one of the bullets are extremely high.
Criminals frequent high-traffic areas or send innocent-looking people to roam public spaces with a ‘grabber’ to steal passwords and other identifying data. You will probably never know when and where you got hit, and, in some cases, you may never realize that your device has been penetrated.
There’s even a good chance that the guy who stole your passwords is simply a cog in a well-connected criminal chain, and the repercussions go well past just some sleazeball selling the data on the dark web.
Don’t Risk Your Clients’ Data
Digital marketers deal with tons of private and delicate information about businesses and consumers. It is vital to keep that data safe. Data breaches are big news. Imagine the damage if your social media management accounts or data sets get hacked!
Depending on the industry you work in and the size of the breach, you may be legally mandated to report the breach, thereby joining the growing group of publicly shamed data breach statistics. You’ll also have to live knowing that thousands of your data subjects may come to digital harm because of your oversight.
Security experts agree that if you work with sensitive data without using a VPN, you risk exposing sensitive data and may even be actively jeopardizing your career.
3 Ways Digital Marketers Can Use A Vpn For Offense The fun part of a VPN is how it can make a digital marketer even better at her job.
Building Convincing Alternate Profiles
Alternate accounts and email addresses are a part of your daily life. It helps you to slip into a credible persona with which you can do research, collect ideas, and shape future strategies.
You can build more depth into each persona by assigning a specific server to each one. When you always use one server to conduct research for Company A, it helps you keep that client separate from Company B. You can accumulate accurate data without distortion. At the same time, the individual personas are, of course, helpful, e.g., link building.
Search Engine Optimization
If your client’s target audience is in an entirely different location than your business, you could be like a fish out of water in that market. Consumer intelligence is essential to
understand what your prospects search for on search engines and what drives them to buy.
If you choose a VPN with global servers, you can connect to one in your target country and set your search results to match the server location. That will enable you to perform keyword searches like a local, identify popular keywords in that location, and identify real-time keyword trends with tools like Google Trends.
I Spy With My Little Eye
Tracking competitors is a standard way to stay ahead of competitors’ marketing strategies. However, visiting competitors’ websites and social media too often may get them to ban your IP address. VPN masks your real IP address so that you can slip in and out unnoticed.
A Final Word
There can be important differences between the prices of VPNs. Compare it with how a marketer would choose a digital marketing suite.
Some marketers choose their digital marketing platforms based on their ability to work around non-critical features. Some can use a broad range of free or cheap social media management modules rather than full-house, premium services like HootSuite or Sprout Social.
The difference between free and paid VPN services is that a free VPN is not private and does not protect you or your data. On the contrary, they provide a free service precisely so that they can gather and sell your data.
When you choose a VPN, stick to the professionals!