In 2018, data breaches compromised the personal information of millions of individuals.
As a result of the mishandling of data by brands such as Facebook and Marriott (just to name a few), brand trust is at an all-time low. In fact, according to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, less than half of all Americans say they generally trust businesses (that’s down from almost 60 percent in 2017).
Marketers are now faced with the challenge of building that trust back up. And, according to a recent survey we conducted, one of the best places to start is with owned content.
Our survey of senior-level B2B marketers found that 87 percent believe brand content (including website content, blogs, webinars, videos, eBooks and more) plays an important role in building brand trust.
While building brand trust requires significant, purposeful efforts, putting in the work will drive rewards with your audience. Here are a few ways to build a content strategy that aims to achieve an increase in brand trust:
Understand your customers and prospects
Wunderman’s “wantedness” study, which measures brand affinity and customer loyalty, found that a large majority (almost 80 percent) of consumers are loyal to brands that show a deep understanding of the customer, their priorities and their preferences.
When your customers feel that you understand them — that you know their wants, needs, likes and dislikes, and are genuinely interested in making them happy by solving their problems and challenges — they’re more likely to remain loyal to your brand.
Brands can reach that level of trust by communicating with customers via content that is created to meet their expectations. To uncover those expectations, brands can leverage data insights to help build the type of content their customers require. Gathering data directly from the source — the customer — is the first place to start.
The more customers respond to your content, the more insights you can gain on who your prospective customers are and what they want. The progressive nature of this type of content intelligence leads to improved clarity about the brand’s optimal target audience. It allows marketers to narrow their focus — zeroing in on the personas they should be targeting.
As these audience insights get deeper, marketers are more easily able to connect with their customers as humans with actual needs, wants and challenges (rather than a spreadsheet of emails and data fields).
Incorporating them in content, personas, messaging, customer service protocols and product development will lead to more efficient and effective marketing and sales teams.
Create a trustworthy, relevant brand voice
I’ve never met a marketing manager that didn’t have “relevant” written under the “brand voice” section of their style guide. And while achieving relevancy is easier said than done, achieving it on a regular basis is even more difficult.
When thinking about all of the different types of content that a brand produces in a day (blogs, white papers, videos, and social media content just to name a few) maintaining a singular voice can become challenging, particularly when you likely have more than one person creating that content.
Using data insights gathered about your audiences, create briefs that give specific direction on the following items in order to maintain consistency.
Based on previous interactions with your customers, identify content themes that are more likely to engage your audiences. With highly relevant content that is delivered at the right time in the customer journey, you’re more likely to gain the trust of your prospects.
Different types of content are effective at different stages of the buyer journey. By continuously delivering consistent messaging in various media formats (particularly as preferred by your customers) you come across as more relevant.
Figure out which channels your customers prefer, and give those channels preferential treatment. Use data to identify the ideal mix of channels, as well as the right timing. With consistency throughout all aspects of your content marketing, you can build a meaningful brand experience for your customers, one that is both familiar and trustworthy.
Follow through on company ethics and core values
An often overlooked component of a brand trust content strategy involves the human component of your company. Customers want to feel that you genuinely care about them and their communities. They want to work with brands that aren’t afraid to take a stand. In fact, recent studies show that younger consumers prefer companies that demonstrate a commitment to a cause over those that don’t.
When developing brand trust and loyalty initiatives, check to see how closely your brand is aligned with customer expectations about company values, customer service, and community outreach. Choose initiatives that your team also genuinely cares about. By following through in authentic ways on your commitment, you can further develop brand trust.
Your brand should view each individual interaction with a customer as an opportunity to either build or destroy trust and loyalty.
Back up all claims about your product or service with consistent action. In the age of social media, where a single bad customer service interaction can be shared with the world in a matter of minutes, brands must ensure interactions with the customer at each stage of the journey remain as positive and customer-focused as possible.
Building brand trust is an ongoing activity
A 2018 survey of more than 1,000 adults revealed that trust plays a major role for consumers making large purchase decisions.
In fact, 69 percent of respondents agreed that it matters either “a lot” or “a great deal,” underscoring its importance as a foundation of your content strategy. Gaining brand trust requires a concerted effort over an extended period of time, and a great deal of dedication from internal comms teams. It requires that every person on your team is rallying behind your mission and values.
It also requires devoting the time and resources to internal communications and employee development. A strong brand presence requires that everyone on your team is rallying behind your brand mission and values.
With a clearer understanding of your customers’ expectations and how to meet them, you can develop meaningful connections to your brand that lead to greater loyalty and trust over time. A customer-focused content strategy is essential to that plan.
About the Author: Patti Doyle, COO, Vennli. Patti is all about using content to connect with customers and drive marketing ROI. She is a champion of driving Vennli’s lead pipeline and making sure that sales have a full funnel. Patti’s background is a blend of B2C, B2B, marketing, and general management, which helps her drive relevance with Vennli’s customers.