Online marketing is a science as much as it is an art. A good campaign checklist has everything from awesome creatives to clearly defined success metrics. But here’s the thing. Even the most spot-on plans will miss the mark in one key area – the connection between marketing and people.

Human-to-human connections are the heart and soul of marketing. That’s why you need to build psychology into each and every one of your campaigns.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re ramping up your content marketing efforts, designing a billboard or figuring out what you want to tweet. Psychology will be the heart of everything that you do.

Take a step back to incorporate these five steps into each and every one of your marketing campaigns:

Step 1: Figure Out What Your Audience Wants

At any given moment in time, your customers are asking, “what’s in it for me?” It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a law firm or florist. Your customers are still asking that one, fundamental question.

Your marketing messages need to answer that question directly. Typically, consumers care about three things: (1) finding value, (2) saving time, and (3) spending the least amount of money possible. Your marketing messages need to speak to these points directly.

And if you’re not sure what your audience cares about? Ask them. Get on the phone with your customers and ask how you can help make their lives better.

For instance, Al Panetta -- a CPA based in the San Francisco Bay Area -- has built his website to be as helpful as possible for busy professionals. He tells his customers exactly what services he is able to provide and why he can save them time and money with personalized services.

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Step 2: Prepare for the Unknown

We live in a multi-platform, cross-device world. Buzzwords aside, the point is simple. Your audiences may not be sitting at the computer, so stop imagining that they are. They might be commuting to work on the train or sneaking a look at their phones during an all-hands meeting at work. Either way, you’re not going to have any control over what they’re doing.

Instead, prepare for the unknown by making your user experience (ridiculously) streamlined and simple. Have one clear call to action on your website that seamlessly transitions into a strong user experience.

Designing a website for your store is only the first step. It needs to be mobile responsive, especially if you’re running a brick and mortar storefront since the majority of your customers will be on-the-go.

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Step 3: Make Your Marketing About People

People are at the heart of every business relationship. Your customers don’t want to feel like they’re a number in the queue. They want to feel that your company will take good care of them.

Coworks, a premium marketplace for creative work, has built this concept into its core user experience. As one subtle marketing technique, the company’s homepage features pictures of its own freelancers. The intent is simple: showcase the people behind the computer screen.

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Step 4: Keep It Subtle

What I’m about to say is going to sound counter-intuitive, so prepare yourself. Marketing is not about selling. The minute you pitch your audience with a sales pitch, you’ll scare them away.

Instead, you need to nurture your audience for the long term. Build a relationship. Give them great content to read -- but don’t talk about your brand explicitly.

That’s the exact vision behind the HubSpot blog, which has taken off. Give audiences information that they’ll love, and they’ll come back to promote your brand in return.

The HubSpot blog champions this concept by publishing content for its audience, not its sales team.

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Step 5: Test Your Assumptions

Your gut won’t always be right. You need to make sure that you’re engaging in continuous user research and website testing through techniques like A/B testing. You’re a marketer, not a mind-reader. You can use tools like Optimizely and Unbounce to figure out what your customers are doing and identify areas of opportunity. Tools like UserTesting (and getting on the phone with your customers) can help you understand why. Always seek to refine and iterate upon your approach.

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What Do You Think?

Talk to us from both your marketing and consumer brains. What do you care about when a brand reaches out to you? What do your customers care about? What lessons have you learned the hard way?

Inspire your fellow marketing and business leaders by leaving a comment below.