With so many ways to communicate to consumers, marketers should be careful to adhere to ethical content marketing practices.

With so many ways to communicate and promote products and services to consumers, marketers should be careful to adhere to ethical content marketing practices. Ars Technica recently reported that Papa John’s, a popular American pizza franchise, and OnTime4U, a marketing firm, are facing a lawsuit for sending customers 500,000 unsolicited text messages.

According to the news source, it’s unclear how much of a role Papa John’s played in the decision to spam customers with promotional SMS. Even still, the incident provides a lesson in ethics for content marketers. Despite the temptation to send high volumes of messages and other promotional materials to consumers, marketers should focus on sending only highly relevant content to different audiences and creating positive, opt-in brand experiences.

Inbound marketing efforts, such as website content and social marketing, are on the rise. The latest Inbound Marketing Report from Hubspot shows companies currently spend 12 percent more on these efforts than outbound efforts (like SMS). Brands find inbound marketing is critical to customer acquisition and drives lower costs per lead.

SMS is not the only channel that can lose audience trust – even inbound content formats can be perceived as spammy when not distributed with transparency. Brafton recently reported on a MediaBrix study that revealed 86 percent of internet users feel they have been misled by video ads that were parading as other content. Not only did the study show that users feel tricked, it also showed that marketers turning to these sorts of video marketing strategies aren’t seeing positive results. Sixty-two percent of viewers reported that they are more likely to have a positive impression of brands when videos are properly labeled.

Emma Siemasko is a former member of Brafton's editorial team. Emma has experience with blogging, travel writing, industry news, SEO and content marketing. She used to live in South Korea, where she mastered the art of using metal chopsticks.