Brand trust is the foundation on which a successful customer relationship is built. It has long been recognized as a critical part of any marketing strategy. It can aid in customer acquisition, retention, sales velocity and, brand loyalty.

But, building brand trust can be elusive for B2B marketers. How is it built? What do marketers need to invest in to grow it? These are questions we set out to answer in a recent survey of 100 senior-level B2B marketers.

We were most interested in learning 1) Which part of the buyer journey most impacts brand trust, 2) How marketing teams are using content to build lasting connections with partners, prospects, customers and employees, and 3) How seniority in the organization impacts perceptions of the role of brand trust. Some of the key findings from our “Content Marketing Strategies that Build Brand Trust” report are detailed below.

Owned content is king when it comes to building brand trust

When given options including social media, advertising, reviews, analyst reports and press coverage, most (57 percent, to be exact) marketers rated branded content as the number one marketing tool they use to build brand trust.

Customer references/ testimonials (within owned content) also ranked high on the list, with 40% considering them an essential tool. Third-party analyst reports, word-of-mouth and press coverage ranked lower — at 33 percent, 32 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

Source: Vennli

When asked more directly if they believed owned content (blogs, videos, ebooks, webinars, etc.) played an important role in building brand trust, most marketers were quick to agree.

In fact, 87 percent said “yes,” of which, 45 percent strongly agreed. This begged the question, “Which types of owned content are most important for marketing teams to focus on?”

Within owned content, sales support documents are viewed as “most impactful.”

We know marketers believe brand trust is important for driving business — especially when it comes to building a strong relationship with customers over time — which made us curious as to which types of owned content were best able to drive the business forward.

When we asked about the types of content that marketers considered to be the most important, respondents ranked sales support documents at the top of the list. Following sales support documents in descending importance were case studies, customer support documents, videos, company blogs, testimonials, podcasts, ebooks and webinars.

Source: Vennli

What we can tell from these results is that there seems to be a focus on those documents that have a visible impact on driving revenue.

But marketing leaders shouldn’t forget about the long-term impact that a strong foundation of brand trust can have. Are they overlooking long-term success for easy wins? And, how can they incorporate elements that do build trust in these key documents? Our study pointed to third-party perspective as the key to winning trust from prospects.

Owned content must include third-party perspective

While owned content was chosen by most as being “important” in building brand trust, survey respondents felt that there were certain content elements that significantly boosted the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

When asked to rank which components of content (original research, customer quotes, influencer quotes, a human voice, competitor comparisons, videos, third-party data, etc.) were most important, B2B marketers respondents chose original research, quotes from customers and quotes from industry experts as the top three. Each were equally ranked at 40 percent.

Source: Vennli

Each of the three top components identified by marketers underscores the importance of external validation from both customers and industry experts.

So, while owned content should be about your brand, it shouldn’t always be from your brand. Explore incorporating guest posts, case studies and research reports into a comprehensive content strategy to build trust with customers and prospects.

Understanding which levers to pull to build brand trust is extremely important in today’s competitive environment. According to these 100 B2B marketers, the most important place to focus your resources on is owned content.

Consider how layering in new perspective could positively impact your content marketing strategy. Don’t just rely on the expected deluge of white papers and webinars to do the hard work for you. Explore how to build meaningful relationships with your customers by providing them with the content they crave from your brand. This will position your brand as one that customers will remain loyal to for years to come.

About the Author: Patti Doyle is the CCO at Vennli, Patti is all about using content to connect with customers to drive marketing ROI. She is a champion of driving Vennli’s customer experience and making sure that customers are delighted across the entire customer journey. Patti’s background is a blend of B2C, B2B, marketing, and general management, which helps her drive relevance with Vennli’s customers.