Observed: Do E-Marketing Firms Need a Seal of Approval?

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I was chatting recently with someone from one of the Canadian arms of the Better Business Bureau. He told me that not only do they get a lot of inquiries from people looking for more information on Internet-related companies, but complaints about Internet-related companies rank very high compared to other types of businesses.
To date, the Better Business Bureau has apparently logged (across North America) 253,015 inquires about Internet-related companies and 15,250 complaints, putting Internet-related companies fourth on the list of most complained about companies behind only credit card companies (third), cell phone companies (second), and auto dealerships (first). Ouch!


That’s right, according to my source at the Better Business Bureau, out of the hundreds of types of businesses that exist today, Internet-related companies appear to be ticking off a lot of people.
I realize this is not a scientific study and that “Internet-related companies” is rather broad and likely encompasses everything from ISPs to Web design firms to legitimate e-marketing firms – and not so legitimate e-marketing firms(i.e. spammers). Still, these numbers are rather provocative.
I asked my contact about specific inquiries for “e-marketing” and was pleasantly surprised to learn that across North America they’d had 74,851 inquiries about companies offering these types of services.
My little chat with the Better Business Bureau (who, by the way, were NOT calling to investigate a complaint) has gotten me thinking about what we as e-marketers may need to do to address a great deal of potential confusion, suspicion, and maybe even apprehension about using our services, at least in the eyes of some potential and existing customers.
Do those of us that run ethical and legitimate businesses need to do more to communicate and prove our honesty and integrity? I’m not for one moment suggesting we all run out and join the Better Business Bureau, and I’m not even sure that would help much, but this did get me wondering if I’d ever seen a Better Business Bureau icon displayed on the Website of an e-marketing services firm. Have you?
Other than the (rather elusive) WebTrust icon, which is focused on privacy, or the occasional logo indicating that a company is a member of an industry association (like AIMS or the Canadian Marketing Association), is there any universally-recognized ‘seal of approval’ for e-marketing services firms? And should there be?

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