Digital marketing specialists need to use many tools to achieve their goals and reach target audiences.
However, not many consider a VPN (Virtual Private Network) an essential part of their kit. However, I’d like to shed some light on this topic and tell you why marketing agencies need to use a VPN.
Overview of VPN technology
First off, we must overview the basic principles of VPN technology. After all, not everyone might be familiar with the software.
Virtual private networks work by rerouting your online connection through remote servers. This process hides your IP (Internet Protocol) address and location simultaneously. Additionally, it masks all your activities via encryption, making them utterly unreadable to snoopers and other potential onlookers.
While this manoeuvre may appear trivial, it unlocks a lot of potential for VPN users. For example, commercial VPNs have hundreds of servers, allowing customers to choose from many different regions worldwide. On the other hand, a corporate VPN allows all employees to access shared resources regardless of where they are located.
There’s much more ground to cover regarding VPN technology and its use. If you’d like to dive deeper into this topic, visit VPNpro for extensive guides and provider recommendations.
Why marketing agencies need to use a VPN
Here’s a quick rundown of the five reasons marketing agencies should use VPN technology.
- Data security
- Researching foreign markets
- Access to restricted content
- Ability to work remotely
Each one deserves a thorough explanation of its benefits, which you will find further below.
Connecting to the internet without a VPN enabled leaves your online activities exposed to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and other users on the network. This means they clearly see what websites you’re visiting and what data is exchanged.
This isn’t a huge issue if you’re only surfing the web searching for funny memes. However, it can be dangerous if you’re dealing with confidential data or payment details. For example, a hacker can siphon that information and use it for nefarious purposes, such as data extortion or identity theft. Furthermore, an exposed connection is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle and DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks.
In short, a VPN tunnel is vital for keeping your trade secrets hidden when working in public networks.
Online marketers sometimes have to visit a particular website multiple times for research purposes. Unfortunately, frequent visits from the same IP address can be misinterpreted as potential spam. Furthermore, online trackers and cookies will skew your results because you’ll be flagged as a returning user.
Most of you are familiar with Incognito Mode and how it creates a clean slate for visiting websites as a new user. However, a VPN is crucial for taking this approach further and gaining a new IP address, thus completely hiding your true identity. Plus, some marketing campaigns are easier to execute when you have a convenient way of masking your identity.
Researching foreign markets
Changing your location with a VPN is an excellent way to research foreign markets. Specifically, it allows you to take on the mantle of a user from a different country and observe the web through their eyes. That means seeing unique results on online search engines, country-specific website layouts, and region-exclusive deals.
Access to restricted content
Online geographical restrictions are the practice of limiting content to specific countries or regions. These limitations are enforced by checking IP addresses, which are used to estimate a user’s location, and then acting accordingly. This is common in the entertainment industry with movies and TV shows being limited to specific regions.
This phenomenon can affect marketing specialists as well. For example, some essential tools or websites could be inaccessible in your country. Alternatively, you could use a VPN to unlock cheaper subscription prices.
Ability to work remotely
Some employees prefer the flexibility of working remotely. There’s even a name for such people – digital nomads. However, many companies are rightfully concerned about various cybersecurity issues stemming from remote work. Moreover, working from all over the world makes it challenging to maintain an intranet for sharing resources.
A VPN can fix these problems by allowing everyone to connect to the same network from any location. Furthermore, the VPN connection will protect against various digital threats on public networks.
Difference between corporate and consumer VPNs
As mentioned previously, VPN products can be split into two categories:
The main difference between the two is the target audience. Corporate VPNs are primarily made for businesses for online protection and facilitating secure connections to a shared network. However, they can include extra server locations and other perks. These services are typically purchased for an entire company and have scalable pricing plans. An excellent example of a worthwhile corporate VPN is NordLayer.
On the other hand, consumer VPNs are personal products and their features will vary based on your chosen provider. Some can do it all (keep you secure, anonymous, and unblock geo-restricted streaming content), while others specialize in certain aspects. These services have fixed subscription plans and support multiple device connections with one account. The most well-known and effective consumer VPN is NordVPN.
Other benefits of a VPN
The five aforementioned reasons for having a VPN are relevant to marketing agencies and other digital businesses. But what benefits attract regular users to purchase consumer VPNs? Let’s touch on that subject for just a moment.
- Unblocking streaming services. The most popular consumer VPN use case is accessing geo-blocked movies and TV shows. This is a common issue among streaming platforms like Netflix or HBO Max.
- Staying anonymous. We have to admit that online advertising has become quite proficient at profiling netizens. As such, users frequently use VPNs to blend in with the crowd, hide their location, and prevent tracking.
- Protection against ads, trackers, malware. Some of the best VPN services have special tools for blocking malicious ads and online trackers. Bonus protection includes preventing phishing attacks and malware from entering your system.
- Avoiding censorship and surveillance. Not everyone can enjoy the internet freedom most of us have grown accustomed to. For some, a VPN is an essential tool for accessing the free web and preventing online censorship.
Are free VPNs viable?
Budget-conscious businesses and frugal consumers alike might be tempted to use what is known as a “free VPN.” However, it should come as no surprise that no-cost VPNs aren’t actually free. Instead, you’ll end up paying either with your precious data or convenience.
The most reliable free VPNs are actually freemium services, aka premium providers with a costless plan. Unsurprisingly, the free option includes various limitations to minimize the impact of unpaying customers on the overall network and to entice them to subscribe. Here’s a rundown of the restrictions you’re likely to encounter.
- Data caps. The first limitation you’re bound to come across is a monthly or daily data cap. It can vary between a few hundred megabytes and up to ten gigabytes.
- Throttled speeds. Another popular roadblock is lowered connection speeds. This ensures that unpaying customers have a noticeably subpar experience compared to subscribers.
- Inability to get around geo-blocks. Unblocking geo-restricted content takes a bit more under-the-hood effort from the VPN than just changing your IP address. As such, these extra steps are reserved for paying customers.
- Fewer features and server locations. Freeloaders also have to contend with fewer security features and server choices. Country options can vary wildly between providers.
- Potential data logging. VPN providers that advertise themselves as entirely free typically include nasty surprises in their terms of service. These can include excessive data logging and sharing it with unknown third parties.
Everyone needs a VPN for online privacy and protection against digital threats. The latter is critical for online businesses that deal with vast sums of money and troves of data.
Without a VPN, you’re at the mercy of cybercriminals, who can thwart your operations with ransomware. Plus, the cost of a VPN is nothing compared to the potential losses from a security breach.