The world of marketing is constantly changing, and the way that brands interact with their customers has evolved. From blogging to social media ads, the ways in which we market are varied.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of trust. It’s still a key goal for any brand, and one way to achieve that is via content marketing. But how does content marketing build trust? In this article, we look at how you can build strong relationships with your customer base through your content.
Why is it important to build trust with your customers?
Trust is vital if you want to generate repeat custom. Customers are more likely to stay loyal and buy from your brand if they trust the product or service. Just think about how many people routinely shop at their favourite supermarket brand or tech manufacturer even though they know the prices might be cheaper elsewhere.
What’s more, marketing to existing customers typically costs far less than trying to acquire new ones – up to 5 times according to Forbes.
On top of that, building up a credible brand that consumers know and trust is a good way to weather storms of economic uncertainty or negative press in future.
So how do you build trust with your customer base? One way is through establishing a positive brand identity in consumers’ minds, and central to communicating that messaging is content marketing.
How does content marketing build trust?
Well-crafted content can be a vehicle to channel more than just sales messages. It can subtly communicate your brand’s ethos, its mission statement and also its personality.
In a world where information comes at us from all angles, we often take in more than we can process. Content is ubiquitous and consumers will filter out anything that doesn’t meet their needs. Yet even in spite of that, it’s still vitally important when 72% of companies attribute an increase in leads to content marketing.
That means what you really need to be focusing on is creating standout content that gets noticed and gets the job done.
It’s no secret that consumers are in control these days, from how you use their data to what brands get a place in their heart. With saturated marketplaces, customers have been conditioned to research and make informed decisions before they make a purchase, often comparing it with similar products or making price comparisons between competitors.
The best content is that which offers value but also ensures people know who you are and what you’re about, particularly if they’re at the decision-making stage of a purchase.
Well-constructed content helps you stay relevant in a competitive environment by informing customers of what your company does and why they should choose you over others.
So, what makes content marketing so effective at building customer trust? A lot of different factors, including consistency in messaging, branding across muliple channels and transparent data sharing. Collectively, this approach allows for a more personal relationship, rather than simply relying on ads or brand messaging that could feel like an assault on readers who, at the end of the day, are simply turning to social media platforms, blogs and articles to learn something or be entertained.
As a content marketer, it is your duty to fulfil customers’ needs and position your brand as the answer to many problems.
Here’s how to build trust through your content marketing
Know your audience
There are few things more important than knowing who you’re talking to and what they want. By paying attention to what they need (what are the problems they face that you can solve?), then you can create content to meet those needs. However, you also need to know who they are demographically, what content they like to consume and how they like to be spoken to. On top of that, you need to understand their values, beliefs and goals. That’s the key to building a connection with them and it all starts by understanding who they are.
Make your content valuable to the reader
This can but doesn’t always have to mean creating content that provides an answer to a question. Yes infographics, tutorials and guides should be part of your content marketing strategy. But the key is providing content that offers real value, which can come in many forms: emotional, educational or even entertainment. Just make sure it’s of good quality and readers will thank you for it!
Show that you know what you’re talking about
There are a couple of ways to establish that you are a leader in your field. The first is to create engaging and valuable content that they are unlikely to find elsewhere.
Do you have your finger on the pulse of recent developments in your industry? Could you commission a piece of research or a whitepaper into something that your audience is interested in and that aligns with your goals?
You don’t have to bombard your readers with facts, you can turn these important details into easily consumable infographics or explainer videos.
Get found easily
The other way to prove your credibility is to literally show that you are the trusted provider of your service or product by courting the attention of the search engines.
Optimising your content for search engine marketing is key to getting found in the top spots for the keywords your audience is browsing, which will establish you as a front runner.
Likewise, you may want to use some paid advertising to help boost your profile, particularly Google Local Service Ads if you offer a geographically based service. These can offer all kinds of hallmarks of credibility, such as the Google Guarantee that displays a green tick and offers peace of mind that buyers will get their money back if they are unhappy with their service. Buyers can also see your ratings before buying, so ensure you incentivise past customers to leave reviews that helps build trust over time.
Talk like a human!
You want people to feel like they can trust you as more than just a brand, but as a personality. So take the time to be authentic, friendly and engaging with your audience on social media (and in your content). This will create a feeling of closeness that helps establish emotional connections.
Integral to this will be knowing your own tone of voice, i.e. how do you ‘speak’, what language do you use? This will be partially influenced by who you are targeting and the way they speak. It needs to be reflected in all your marketing materials to create real ‘buy-in’, from your headlines to your social posts.
Own your mistakes
Following on from the last point, being human means owning your mistakes. This is key to generating trust. As Amy Cox, Senior Content Marketing Executive for review site Feefo, writes:
“Ethics now play a massive part in the customer’s decision. Act the wrong way in a sensitive situation or clash with your customers about their beliefs, and their trust in your business will diminish and you may lose their custom forever.”
Respond to criticism or bad reviews sensitively and fairly but always acknowledge where you can learn from your mistakes. This also applies at a higher level.
For instance, if you used to use non-sustainable palm oil or haven’t reflected societal diversity in your workplace or advertising previously, these can be great opportunities to update your corporate social responsibility policy and turn it into good PR by creating positive news stories (through social posts, press releases and blog posts).
Be transparent about how you tick
Show your customers the real ‘you’. Video marketing is an excellent way to do this, such as shooting behind-the-scenes footage as you gear up for a photoshoot or campaign launch. This not only generates excitement, it also creates authenticity, makes customers feel closer to your brand and shows you have nothing to hide.
Pull on the emotions
All successful marketing should be emotional. It’s not just about how your products make customers feel; it’s also about the emotion that goes into making them. Take time to capture what it feels like when someone is using your product or visits one of your stores.
Use photography and video marketing to help create a connection with your customer base in an emotional way and help customers see themselves in your company and what you are writing about. Even emojis are useful ways of signalling emotions to readers – depending on the type of business you run and your target audience of course!
Engage with your customers
The benefit of inbound marketing is that customers are coming to you; however, they are still expecting to engage in a conversation of sorts. That means your content marketing should never have the intent of only being one-way; you shouldn’t just put out communications and expect that to bring in custom. That’s not the way to build lasting relationships.
Instead, respond to messages on social media and comments on blog posts; create posts that start conversations or feed off awareness campaigns and trending topics; send emails or create posts and pop-ups that ask for feedback; run polls and competitions…
Above all show that you WANT to engage with your customer base! Be eager in your messaging; show that you want to share your news and knowledge with them. These are all ways to get to know your customer base better and build their trust in you as a reliable and responsive brand.
Take a customer-centric marketing approach
Being customer-centric should apply at all stages of a buyer’s interaction with you – from the initial enquiry or fact-finding right through to the after-sales period.
In a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 73% of people said the customer experience was important in making a purchase. So communicate with your customers clearly and regularly.
Answers should be easy to find, from well-written, targeted landing pages right through to listing easy ways to contact you, such as web chat, as well as follow-up emails post-purchase.
If you’ve ever bought a new appliance or device from Currys PC World, you’ll be familiar with the email campaigns they send out providing tips on how to use and look after your new product and how to seek help. This shows commitment to their customer and establishes trust between the seller and buyer that makes a repeat purchase more likely.
Personalise your content
You may also want to consider personalised marketing to make the reader feel as though they are being spoken to directly rather than one in a sea of people. As well as the language you use, you should choose imagery that reflects a cross-section of your audience. You may wish to use different images for different segments of your customer base, such as when sending out emails.
How do you know when your customers trust you?
There are plenty of ways to know when your customers trust your brand. You might think of the obvious ones:
- Sales from new customers
- Number of sales from repeat custom
- Social media engagement (clicks, views, messages, likes, shares)
- Ratio of positive reviews to bad
- Number of referrals from existing customers to new ones
- Market share over your competition
- The number of conversions after a free trial/sample or introductory discount
However, depending on what stage your company is at, you may want to consider the less trackable data. Such as the kinds of feedback you receive via your customer support, conducting surveys or focus groups, and how your brand is talked about in the media or on forums.
A good way to monitor this is to get customer service agents to refer on feedback and set up a Google Alert for your brand name so that you receive notifications whenever content is put up online that mentions you.
Building trust with your customer base is vital to ensuring long-term buy-in which in turn can help you better predict your profit potential. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-orchestrated content marketing strategy and on-brand content writing to underpinning this trust.
Header image: Womanizer WOW Tech