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It’s an unpredictable time for us marketers. People are still recovering from a rough year, financially, mentally, or both. The last thing you’d think people want are dozens of telemarketing or cold calls, automated emails and clickbait headlines — and you’re right.

The idea of trustworthy and transparent marketing — or simply, responsible marketing —  isn’t new. Still, it’s taken on more meaning as many companies with initially small online presences finally moved more assets and more effort into digital marketing. The recent increase in digital marketing seems to mean an endless glut of spam from companies indiscriminately marketing to the masses.

So how do we define responsible marketing? For me, it means smarter, targeted marketing with the customer and their pain points always in mind.

Target the Customers Who You Can Benefit

Marketing has a truly awesome ability. It has the power to reach people at a primal level and heavily influence their thoughts and actions. Because our actions as marketers can significantly impact people, it’s our responsibility to promote our product or service in a way that limits the reach only to those whom we believe can benefit from what we are offering.

There is a lot of really great marketing out there, but let’s admit it, a lot of marketing is really spammy. Spam significantly reduces the quality of leads, and more importantly, it’s annoying and gives all marketers a bad name. We need to evolve past the lazy approach of tossing a wide net with the hope of catching the right fish and instead prioritize reaching a smaller, more targeted audience, specifically relating our solutions to the audience’s pain points. Your resulting lead pool may be smaller, but it will also be filled with far higher-quality leads.

How can you tell if you’re in the spammy vs. good marketing camp? First, take a look at who you’re marketing to. Do you know who your ideal customer is? Are you doing your best to reach that customer? Is your content purely promotional, or are you helping that ideal customer understand how your solution will solve their problem?

Your marketing material should first educate. It should demonstrate understanding of a customer’s problem while describing how your offering can help. At Moz, we provide free educational resources on our website because we know that the more we educate people about how to use SEO to increase the visibility of website (for example), the more likely we are to reach the customers who will benefit from our SEO solutions.

It takes patience. You need to respect your audience enough that you allow them the time and space to take the next step and convert or buy at their own pace — not yours.

Build Trust and Connect With Your Customers

I’ve talked before about how storytelling is the best way for marketers to create lasting relationships with customers. People want to experience something human and latch on to a greater narrative. When people feel you’re talking directly to them, it evokes a greater sense of connection and sparks interest in whatever you’re marketing.

Connection creates lifelong customers. Lifers, as we call them, have more value in the long run than higher volumes of entry-level customers. They’ll spend more on premium products, stick with you through rough times and recommend your brand to others. We connect with and retain lifers through a few core values — empathy, transparency and generosity.

Recently, everyone has had a rough time of it. Adjusting to new standards is exhausting, and the last thing a customer wants is to have to wade through clickbait and spam to find the answers to their problems. When I say empathy, I mean taking the time to see the world from your customer’s point of view. It ties back into your responsibility as a marketer to meet the customer where they’re at and guide them through the journey, rather than pushing them towards something they may not yet want or need. When customers see your commitment to allow them to experience the buying process in their own time, they’ll be far more inclined to trust you.

In light of recent data breaches and questionable data collection, transparency is essential right now . Customers and those interacting with your material need to know their data and information are safe with you. It’s also about showing your interest in new prospects and truthfully communicating who your product is right for.

Respect, Responsibility and Success

People get used to the status quo. Right now, the status quo is dozens of robocalls a day, irrelevant emails and other forms of spam. Is this marketing’s future? I would hope not. Imagine what a beautiful world it would be if we all worked hard to truly understand who could benefit from what we’re offering and only reached out to those prospects. Then focused on educating those prospects about how we can help.

The hope is we all use this power we have as marketers to reach targeted audiences, creating lifelong customers and responsibly guiding them along their journey.

Feature Image Credit: ADOBE

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Christina Mautz has served as a strategic marketing leader for some of the world’s largest technology companies, including Amazon and Yahoo!, as well as a few Seattle SaaS startups where she earned the nickname “Chief Problem Solver.” She currently serves as the CMO and Head of Sales for Moz, the world’s leading SEO software company. In this role, she brings her passion for strategic problem-solving to the sales and marketing teams, aligning them with creative strategies to drive growth.

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