The cut-throat realm of digital marketing is incredibly competitive, as marketers will use any new trick or tool to beat the competition.
They have a truly valid reason — in October 2022, Backlinko found that only 0.63% of Google searchers click on the second page. So naturally, if you aren’t on the first page, your web traffic will be minuscule.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are the latest interest in digital marketing. But how can a VPN improve your marketing campaign, and what else can you do to protect your digital assets? Let’s dive right in…
How does a VPN work?
Every time you browse the internet, your network communicates with the internet via an IP address. This set of numbers can tell websites where you’re situated and any associated search preferences and advertising IDs. A VPN works by:
- Re-routing your browsing data through VPN servers of your choosing;
- Encrypting your private data during the process;
- Changing your IP address to the VPN server’s address;
- Establishing a secure, anonymous connection.
Imagine, if you will — a corridor with no windows and only a door on either side. Anyone trying to peek inside won’t be able to see anything. This is essentially what a VPN does, by creating an encrypted pathway for your data to travel uninhibited.
6 reasons why digital marketers need a VPN
#1. SEO purposes
The primary benefit of using a VPN for digital marketing is the unsurpassed advantages to SEO. With the ability to change your IP address, you now have access to an array of SEO tricks. You can break these down into 3 categories.
- Local Keywords: Of the nearly 25 billion keywords on Semrush and an infinite amount on Google, you’ll only be shown keywords for your locale. By changing your location to a country you’d like to target, you’re presented with the hot keywords for that specific market. Without this insight, breaking into new markets is really tough.
- Competitor Research: Don’t be ashamed — we all do it! There’s nothing wrong with researching your competitors to analyze their SEO and marketing strategies. With a VPN, your IP is replaced by the VPN server’s, so your web traffic will be completely anonymous. For example: if you choose a vpn united states server, you’ll appear to be from the USA.
- Website Beta Testing: Brand-new ads or campaigns can be hard to test when your browser remembers your preferences. If you want to see your store or marketing campaign through the eyes of your customer, a VPN is the easiest and most pain-free method.
#2. Hide your IP while handling transactions
The more successful your marketing, the more clients and money you’ll handle. Processing payments and sensitive client data need to be as secure as possible. Fortunately, you can manage this by handling transactions over a VPN.
Through its secure corridor, your and your client’s payment data are encrypted from any outsiders. So in the rare case when you’re breached during payment or using a faulty payment processor, any leaked data will be unreadable.
For this reason, choosing a VPN with a “kill switch” is paramount. This feature causes your internet connection to be disabled in the event your VPN ever drops out. Basically, a kill switch will ensure your connection is never without protection.
#3. Unbiased market research
Digital marketing professionals spend so much time online that their search engine preferences bias their market research. Google only wants to present you with what it knows you like to see — research outside of these parameters becomes problematic.
Just like competitor research, utilizing a VPN for market research allows for better results, unbiased by your preferences. While browsing in Chrome’s “Incognito” browser can mask your preferences, it does not hide your IP.
When a search engine is aware of your approximate location, the results will be catered to your country of origin. A VPN is the only way a digital marketer can guarantee valuable market research free from individual bias.
#4. Faster connection speeds
Did you know a VPN can actually speed up your internet connection? Wi-Fi is the one tool every digital marketer has in common, so a faster connection is an easy leg up on the competition. Let’s look at why your Wi-Fi can be faster with a VPN:
- Avoid ISP throttling: Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) purposely reduces the internet speed of high-volume users, called “throttling.” The only way an ISP knows what you’re downloading is if your browsing data isn’t hidden. With a VPN, ISPs are less likely to throttle your connection as they can’t view your online activity.
- Choose servers close to you: It’s simple math — the greater your distance from your chosen VPN server, the further your data needs to travel. If you want the fastest VPN connection possible, choose a local server. A VPN with “split tunneling” also allows you to choose what streams of data run through your VPN, freeing up bandwidth.
#5. Google and YouTube advertising
Anyone in the Google Ad game knows all too well how frustrating it is to see your ads in the wild. Due to your search preferences, IP, and Google account, your view of search results will be skewed and not at all like a customer would see it.
The only way to view your ads organically is through a VPN. As Google knows you created the ad, it will likely show at the top of search results. Without a VPN, competitors’ ads might hold the top ranking that you think you have.
VPNs are also useful when expanding your advertising reach to other countries on Google and YouTube. You can see what ads are effective in particular regions and cater your ads to suit or compete with them.
#6. Secure remote management
As a digital marketer, there’s a high chance you’ll do some work remotely. Whether that’s in your favorite coffee shop or a silent nook of a library, a public internet connection is rife with cybersecurity risks.
Called a Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attack, a hacker will breach an unencrypted connection and place themselves in between the network and user. As data passes to and fro, the hacker only needs to collect the information.
Payment information, login credentials, and other sensitive data pass along this route. The VPNs encrypted passageway assures that your data is unreadable and completely secure, even if the network you’re using is under a MITM attack.
Other ways to secure your marketing campaigns and data
VPNs are by no means the only cybersecurity measure you should be taking. Every digital marketer should take extra precautions to ensure their campaign data remains private and secure.
It’s been said a trillion times, and it’ll be said a trillion times more — choose stronger passwords. The same guessable password used for every account is a disaster waiting to happen. If you like your passwords because they’re easy to remember, use a password manager to generate and remember them for you.
Upgrade account security
In 2022, cybersecurity firm SpiderSilk informed Microsoft of leaked employee login data. While considered an accident, the slip-up could have caused havoc if not for strong account security like Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Measures like MFA are available everywhere these days and are essential for account security.
Antivirus and firewalls
While a VPN serves a vital role in secure browsing, it won’t protect you from malware and stronger attacks. Cybersecurity software like antivirus and firewalls usually come preinstalled on your devices. However, upgrading to premium third-party software comes highly recommended.
Stay up to date
Your old software presents a great risk to your cybersecurity when it becomes vulnerable to hackers. Developers patch these security flaws through updates. Each day you press “Remind me tomorrow” is another day you risk a major data breach. It’s super simple — keep EVERY program, plugin, and app up to date.
Restrict employee access to digital assets
Google learned a hard lesson when an ex-employee stole trade secrets on their way to a job at Uber. The larger your business grows, the more employees you might take on. Limit access to digital assets by employees or clients to whom the data isn’t relevant. More eyes on your sensitive data mean a higher risk of data theft.
Digital marketing and VPN FAQ
Does a VPN stop targeted ads?
In most cases, a VPN will stop any advertisers from targeting you with ads. Without any IP address or personal data, advertising that relies on cookies will be less targeted. However, advertisers are finding new ways to track interests and spending, like “browser fingerprinting”.
Are VPNs legal?
In 99% of cases, yes, a VPN is completely legal. However, there are a handful of countries that have restricted or completely banned VPNs. If you see your country on the list, then the illegal use of a VPN could get you into some serious trouble.
When shouldn’t I use a VPN?
There are only a couple of scenarios in which the use of a VPN isn’t recommended. If you’re having trouble with your connection speeds, your VPN or chosen server location could be to blame. Otherwise, the only other downside to a VPN is an increase in mobile data usage.
Does a VPN need to be connected all the time?
To avoid a moment of vulnerability, a VPN should be connected at all times. That’s what makes VPNs with a kill switch so effective, as they don’t allow for even a split-second of unsecured connection.