How To Build Customer Trust With Content Marketing
Customer trust has eroded.
Are you worried?
Do you think customer trust doesn’t matter to your marketing and business?
Without trust, potential visitors will ignore your content marketing altogether.
Even worse, they won’t purchase from you if they don’t trust you.
Because they’re closed to receiving your message:
- 53% of Edelman’s Trust Barometer respondents don’t regularly pay attention to people and organizations with whom they often disagree.
From a marketing perspective, lack of customer trust makes your job more difficult. As a result, you need a bigger budget to yield the same results.
What can you do as a marketer to maintain your sanity and your job?
Understand the seismic shift in global customer trust. Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer reports an all time low level of trust that extends beyond purchase decisions. 85% of respondents lack full belief in the system. (Here’s the full report.)
Content Marketing Trust: 3 Areas of Credibility
Your content marketing requires 3 types of credibility to counter the fact that overall trust has eroded. Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer uncovered 2 key areas that matter for content marketers where customer trust has eroded. They are information source and media credibility. Additionally, you must consider your business’s credibility.
1. Information source credibility
To ensure readers find your content marketing convincing, your audience must believe the people you cite and quote in your publications.
Customer trust has rearranged the importance of your content sources according to Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer. Credibility is down across all types of thought leaders.
From a content marketing perspective, internal business source credibility suffered the most. They still help your marketing, but not as much as before.
- 60% of respondents rate “a person like me” as a credible source, down 3 percentage points from 2016.
- 60% of respondents rate an academic as a credible source, down 5 percentage points from 2016.
- 60% of respondents rate a technical expert as a credible source, down 7 percentage points from 2016. This is a big loss for content marketers and businesses more generally.
- 48% of respondents rate an employee as a credible source, down 4 percentage points from 2016.
- 37% of respondents rate a CEO as a credible source, down 12 percentage points from 2016. This is also a big loss for content marketers and businesses more generally.
- 29% of respondents rate a government official as a credible source, down 6 percentage points from 2016.
Actionable Content Marketing Tips To Improve Source Credibility:
- Encourage in-house technical experts to contribute to your content marketing. Your technical experts should still be your “go-to” in-house resources. Make it clear you’ll provide the resources to make their information shine. This includes editing and optimization.
- Build relationships with your customers willing to talk about your products and business. Customers trust other customers. This includes friends and family who are customers followed by customers “I don’t know” in aggregate according to Nielsen. Incorporate their user-generated content in your content marketing.
2. Media credibility
Media credibility matters for marketers.
- You need reliable platforms to distribute your marketing message.
- You need to know the context in which your message will appear.
If your audience doesn’t trust the media entities where you distribute your content, your budget is wasted. They won’t pay attention.
- 64% of respondents trust search engines, up 3 percentage points from 2016.
- 57% of respondents trust traditional media, down 5 percentage points from 2016.
- 51% of respondents trust online media, up 5 percentage points from 2016.
- 43% of respondents trust owned media, up 5 percentage points from 2016.
- 41% of respondents trust social media, down 3 percentage points from 2016.
Actionable Content Marketing Tips To Leverage Media Credibility:
- Invest in owned media to take advantage of its increased trustworthiness. Continue to build your owned content marketing, especially your blog and email marketing. According to Nielsen, owned websites have 70% trust and emailings have 56% trust.
- Optimize your content marketing to build on search engine trustworthiness. Create quality content around your core information categories. Search is a long-term opportunity. It takes time to reap its benefits. Further, it’s subject to algorithmic changes.
- Reduce your content marketing’s dependence on social media. In the US, trust in social media’s decline is largely attributable to the election-rated fake news issues. While most businesses view social media as a marketing must-have, you should build your house file and nurture other communities to diversify your social media dependence.
3. Company credibility
While Edelman didn’t assess the strength of company trust directly, Accenture research, focused on customer loyalty, discovered trust was a key purchase factor for US customers. Once you have gained your customers’ trust, price is no longer a key element of their purchase decision.
- 85% of US customers rank a company’s protection of their privacy and safeguarding their personal information as a key factor.
- 81% of US customers rank a company’s being there when I need them and otherwise leaving me alone as key.
- 23% of US customers are swayed by a celebrity endorsement.
- 23% of US customers are swayed by a social media influencer.
Actionable Content Marketing Tips To Leverage Company Credibility:
- Take precautions with your customer and employee’s personal information. Ensure that you’ve installed proper safeguards to prevent information leaks or theft.
- Appreciate the value of an email address. Like a good host, understand what it means to be part of their content inner circle. Don’t squander it with non-stop and irrelevant promotion. You’ll cause prospects and customers to unsubscribe.
3 Ways to build content marketing trust
Here are 3 ways to incorporate content marketing trust into your plans.
1. Build respect for your business with your content marketing
Don’t assume that your target audience is already predisposed to consume your content and act on it. Instead of hiding behind your logo, show who you are.
- Be transparent in your dealings with your customers, employees and others. This concept is rooted in the Cluetrain Manifesto.
- Develop your content marketing mission. Inspire your audience. Tell them what you seek to achieve as an organization. Position your mission statement about more than generating leads and sales. Research shows that this is particularly important for millennials.
- Create an “About Us” page on your owned media. Don’t stay out of the content limelight. Let readers find out more about you and the content you create. This is particularly important for company blogs. Beyond your mission statement, give readers an insider’s view. Don’t put them off with corporate-speak.
- Consistently use your business’s brand. Your brand helps build trust with prospects and customers. Always use the same writing voice and respect your readers. Build reliability with a consistent use of colors and typography.
- Respect your customers’ privacy. Don’t automatically add them to your email list. Take care of their personal information—don’t sell it or let other firms use it without permission. Once you loose a prospect’s email address, it can be close to impossible to regain.
2. Use content marketing to establish your company’s trustworthiness
Every piece of content marketing is an opportunity to deepen your customer relationships. Don’t blow it by stuffing them with promotions!
- Leverage the power of your content marketing to provide the information prospects seek. Include the information your target audience needs and actively seeks. LinkedIn Research showed that B2B customers ranked product information as a top need.
- Publish your content on a regular schedule. This is where a blog and/or an email newsletter is particularly important. Regular content servings build reader expectation and anticipation for your content. It’s like appointment content.
- Ground your information in facts. Where appropriate link to the data’s original source. Don’t let readers assume that you’re the source. The words “trust me” makes readers think sleazy salesmen. This isn’t the image you’re seeking to establish. Even seemingly weak endorsements can qualify sales.
- Answer your customers’ questions. It’s pure Marcus Sheridan, “They Ask, You Answer.” I call this Customer FAQ content. It includes product details (including reviews, product comparisons, and behind-the-scenes), customer questions, and how to’s (includes patterns, education, best practices and styling.) Since customers seek answers to their purchase questions long before marketers know they’re in-market, offer easy-to-find responses.
- Skip the promotions and the buy, buy, buy. Customers don’t want to hear from you until they’re ready to purchase. They want you to be responsive to their needs and their time. Don’t blow it.
3. Develop relationships with your audience (including prospects, customers and others) through your content marketing
From a trust perspective, this is particularly important since people trust “a person like me” the most. They want to learn from their family and friends.
- Tap into existing communities where they already exist. From a business perspective, check out where the people who love your product spend their free time and join them. It can be a LinkedIn group or a conference or other social media option.
- Give your audience a reason to keep coming back for more content and to share their personal information with you. Think about WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) from your audience’s perspective. Otherwise they won’t care.
- Show customers using your products. This is particularly useful for B2B marketers where prospects look for case studies and successes and failures. All products gain credibility from seeing real people using them.
Editor’s Note: Influencer Marketing is a growing area. Use of influencers wasn’t included in these recommendations due to the relatively low level of trust they hold.
Content Marketing Trust Conclusion
When trust is low across the board, you have to use every tool at your disposal to build and deepen customer relations and trust.
Content marketing is one of the best ways to improve customer trust in your organization. It’s one of the best marketing approaches you can do.
Start by understanding that you’re in the midst of a difficult environment. Many of these factors are beyond your control. They have to do with more than your business.
Instead approach customer trust like you would a friendship—one person at a time.
Comprehend how your audience views the world. Use this knowledge to improve your content marketing’s trustworthiness from their perspective.
You provide the information your target prospects seek tapping into customer FAQ content.
Of course, you’re smart.
You avoid the marketing promotions and stick to the information your prospects want.
You get your technical experts and customers empowered to create quality content your prospects want.
At the same time, you make everyone look like a winner.
And slowly but surely, you start to build content marketing trust.
What else would you add to this list of ways to build content marketing trust?
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