Whether you’re an experienced digital marketing professional or beginner, you’ve probably heard about the online disinhibition effect. This psychological process is the tendency that people have to be more negative in online forums than they would be in person.

While the online disinhibition effect has caused countless arguments over social media, it’s damaging when experienced in a marketing atmosphere. In an attempt to gain support for their client, some digital marketers use immoral tactics. Before we explain how to deal with these tactics, it’s important that you understand what we mean by the term immoral and how it applies to digital marketing.

The State of Online Marketing

With so many websites being created every day, it’s not surprising that so many internet users have had a negative experience on the sites they frequent. These negative experiences include click bait articles or websites, spam-filled pages, and misdirection or lies from the website owner in the hopes of securing revenue.

Even as you read this post, you’re likely recalling a negative experience you went through on a website. These tactics damage the reputation of companies and their brands, causing their audience to avoid their websites and products. People don’t like to be tricked into performing an action against their will and are more likely to return to a website if they have a positive experience on it. This is obvious through direct traffic, social signals, and the bounce rate of a website.

Immoral Digital Marketing Behaviour

While the internet gives users an excellent channel to exchange information on, it can’t replicate the human experience. A large portion of our daily interactions relies on visual and emotional cues that have evolved over millions of years. That’s why it’s much easier to delete a spam-filled email but is difficult to turn down someone in front of us. Our empathy has determined that we live by social contracts which are mutually beneficial.

People expect to be treated as fairly online as in face-to-face communications. Some of the common behavioral assumptions include:

  • We expect to have opinions heard and respected
  • It takes time to create strong relationships
  • Trust has to be earned and can be fragile
  • We frequent business we like and avoid those we don’t

We all relate to these statements. The questions are, how we optimize our marketing approach to coincide with our professional goals?

How To Practice Empathy and Understanding

Empathy is a natural part of our consciousness. It’s why people prefer cute animals and feel pride when their sports team wins a championship. Empathy powers our need to be accepted by social groups and affects our willingness to enter into business partnerships. The easiest way to use empathy in marketing is to look at human psychology as a topic of study. Using established social norms, here are some tips to maximize your reputation in your specific industry:

We Expect to Have Opinions Heard and Respected

If you have a valid point you want to get across, there’s a good chance that someone else in your industry has an equally valid point. Engage with them and try to understand what they’re saying from their perspective. This isn’t always possible, but you’ll be surprised to learn the response you get if you’re willing to listen to them.

It Takes Time to Create Strong Relationships

Using sales strategies is important when you need to increase your numbers in a short amount of time. Even if you find yourself under a time constraint, you should always reach out to your clients and stakeholders. You don’t have to swamp your clients with phone calls or messages, but quickly connecting to touch base is generally appreciated.

Also, if you say you’re going to do something, you need to follow through. Clients and stakeholders rely on professionals who stand by their word and produce the results they promise. By providing them with a positive impression, you’re cementing a relationship that will help you in the future.

Trust Has to be Earned and Can be Fragile

When you’ve earned the trust of a client or stakeholder, do whatever you can to retain it. Trust doesn’t come easily and is one of the most valuable things you can receive from a professional contact. No matter how long you’ve worked with someone, you should never take your clients or stakeholders for granted. You need to show them through your actions that you’re reliable and trustworthy.

We Frequent Business We Like and Avoid those We Don’t

Referrals are important for any business strategy. They’re a vital component of sales and digital marketers need to leverage them as much as possible. If you take the actions we’ve listed above, you’ll see the benefits of referral traffic for yourself. On the other hand, the opposite is equally true. If you’re known for your gruff attitude and sandpaper personality, you’ll be unlikely to see many referrals coming your way.

If you had a first date and immediately told your friends that you were going to marry them, you would get confused looks. This is because we know that a trustworthy relationship requires time to develop. That’s why your reputation is so important and why empathy, understanding, and a transparent approach are so valuable for effective digital marketing.

Back To Basics: Empathy and Understanding

Whether you work for yourself or an agency, you’re constantly being watched by your clients and stakeholders. This is normal in any social setting and shouldn’t intimidate you into attempting to conform to a professional norm. There is an infinite number of approaches suggested by business gurus, but most tend to focus on the need to drive sales numbers up using mathematical formulas and applying them to interpersonal interactions.

For example, you may have heard about a sales tactic known as the elevator pitch. The idea behind this technique is to generate an interesting conversation within the time it might take to ride an elevator. While this approach may work for a percentage of the population, it’s rare to come across anyone who will trust you within the time it takes to ride an elevator.