What Does Responsible Marketing Mean For B2B?


Following the release of our report ‘rise of the responsible marketer’, we’ve been talking a lot about responsible marketing from the perspective of the consumers we surveyed. But what does responsible marketing mean for a B2B brand and how can you apply it to your business?

Responsible marketing is much more than just another buzzword. It’s a mentality. Marketers looking to smash target and drive revenue must fully embrace responsible marketing to succeed.  

Responsible marketing for B2B 

No matter the industry or vertical, customers want to be treated fairly, uniquely, and with respect. In fact, more so in B2B than in any other sector.  

In many cases, B2B sales rely on a human connection; the real relationships between your prospects and your sales team. For this reason, responsible marketing is vital for B2B marketers.  

So, what is responsible marketing?  

Responsible marketing is a customer-centric marketing approach. It’s about building trust between you and your customer, meeting their needs, and thinking about more than the business’s interests to make a positive impact on the community.  

For B2B brands, building trust is imperative. Trust is central to customer retention, lifetime value, and optimizing investment in sales and marketing.  

To build trust, organizations must demonstrate their commitment to protecting the customer’s best interests. That means meeting regulatory responsibilities and putting the customer at the center of everything you do.  

The principles of responsible marketing  

Now let’s break it down. What does it mean to put customers first?  

1. Data security 

In our report, we found that 75% of people believe brands could do more to protect their personal data. These are the same people you’re reaching out to. It goes to say that they’re taking this into their work life and letting it influence their opinions of brands they’re looking to do business with.  

Customer awareness has grown, particularly during the COVID pandemic. Over half the people surveyed (51%) claimed they were more aware than ever about the data brands are collecting. There has been a corresponding rise in mistrust in brands, with 63% of respondents claiming to be increasingly wary of giving out personal data. 

2. Privacy regulations 

With privacy regulations sweeping across Europe and the US, it’s fair to say that email subscribers are more informed about their privacy rights. They know what brands should and shouldn’t be doing with their data.  

Combined with some very public data breaches and people have every reason to be wary of brands collecting their personal data. 36% of email marketing subscribers claim they’ve continued to be marketed to even after they’ve unsubscribed and asked to be removed from the database.  

You must demonstrate that your commitment to meeting these regulations and respect their right to privacy if you want to earn their trust.  

3. Appropriate use of data 

37% of people claim to have unsubscribed from a brand’s mailing list because the messages they were receiving were irrelevant. With recipients more aware of the data you’re collecting, they demand to see it being used appropriately. Failing to do so will lead to high churn rates for your marketing database.  

As long as there is a clear value exchange, people are willing to give brands their data. Using the data, you have to improve the customer experience is a must. Collecting and not using information that will improve the customer experience will only damage your reputation, making it harder for you to create a strong, loyal customer base.  

4. Good citizenship 

Responsible marketing isn’t limited to your data practices. Good citizenship is also essential. 74% of those surveyed said a brand’s impact on society determines whether or not they trust them.  

Clients and prospects want to hear more about how brands are supporting charitable causes or what they’re doing to be more sustainable. Incorporating this into your core brand messaging customers will find it easier to make an instant connection with your business. These connections keep you top-of-mind when the time comes to make purchase decisions.  

Responsible marketing for B2B in action 

So now you know the core principles of responsible marketing, how can you apply them to your B2B business? These are our top tips for adopting a responsible marketing approach to your strategy.  

1. Be open, honest, and transparent 

Our report makes it clear that consumers want transparency. They expect this when they’re sourcing new partners to work with too.  

Email subscribers want to know why you want their data and what you’re going to do with it. This kind of transparency will help recipients feel more confident to part with their data.  

2. Give control to the user 

Recent data security and privacy changes have empowered users to take control. By giving them control over how and when you contact them, you’re actually helping to build trust in your brand. Offer them the choice to pick a channel they want to correspond via. Would they prefer email, SMS, or over the phone?  

Asking new subscribers what stage in the journey they’re at – looking around, actively shopping for new service, etc. – will help you deliver a unique journey for every subscriber. Rather than making certain data fields mandatory, allowing subscribers to choose what information they give you will give them more confidence in your brand.  

3. Be clear about the benefits of data sharing 

Nothing says open, honest, and trustworthy like explaining what you’re going to do with their data. It’s easier to collect extra information by outlining the benefits of them sharing it with you.  

If you’re collecting office locations, then explain it’s because you’ll be delivering treats and goodies to valued prospects and clients. Even basic information like name and job title should come with an explanation. But remember, you have to do what you say.  

4. Use data to create experiences 

What’s the point of collecting customer data if you’re not going to use it to improve the customer experience? Understanding your customer lifecycle will help you know what data you need to collect to improve pivotal touchpoints. 

As well as zero- and first-party data you should be using browsing behavior to trigger personalized campaigns such as abandoned browse automation programs. Experience is key, especially for B2B. You want to make every transaction as human as possible to drive prospects through the funnel.  

Special thanks to our friends at dotdigital for their insights on this topic.
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