Have you searched for a new product or service lately? If so, you probably did what most people do when starting a new search — pulled out your smartphone and dug in. Does the product work as expected? Good. Now what about the company? Do they offer great customer support, handle technical issues fast, and — most importantly — have good word-of-mouth recommendations from other customers?
What all these questions address can be boil down to one word: trust. In content marketing, it’s important to tell the brand story, but, at the end of the day, it’s about building and reinforcing this trust. Can customers rely on your products and brand? Sometimes the answer is “yes,” but when customers are indifferent, that’s when brands struggle and competitors get ahead.
You have have great customer engagement, and people may purchase your product or service, but would they recommend it to others? This key piece of information is a strong indicator of trust and is critical to success. In fact, the majority of customers, 83 percent, would recommend a company they trusted to others. So how can you become that trusted company? Here are a few powerful strategies to build more trust with your customers through content.
1. Get Personal to Solidify the Relationship
Marketers want to send communication that is welcomed by the recipients. Correspondence that isn’t personal, however, risks becoming a liability rather than an asset. In fact, marketing communications account for 70 percent of today’s spam complaints. What’s more, 49 percent of customers surveyed report they receive irrelevant email every single day.
People welcome content that is tailored and pertinent to their challenges, with 54 percent of B2B buyers saying they want vendors to offer personalized recommendations across all interactions. The solution is simple. If you want better customer engagement, create content that your customers actually want to engage with.
For example, the Expert Institute is a legal services platform that matches specialists and authorities to attorneys and investment firms that need support. The company decided to roll out a personalized email campaign and measure the customer engagement results. It started by sending an email from the VP of Client Relations to prospects, offering to help with their challenges and providing a link to a white paper titled “10 Warning Signs When Selecting an Expert Witness.”
The company personalized the emails even more by dividing subscribers into three categories based on one key indicator: engagement. Those who were less engaged received free eBooks and white papers with no marketing language. Those with average engagement received an email with links to blog posts and a soft call to action. And the most engaged group received emails that directly addressed their need for the company’s service.
The results were impressive: a 200 percent increase in conversions, a 60 percent open rate, and a 20 percent click-through rate.
Key takeaway. Segment existing customers based on where they are in the buying cycle and their engagement levels. Less customer engagement translates into less trust, so, for maximum results, marketing should be customized to meet each prospect where they are.
2. Illuminate Your Brand with Greater Authenticity
Customers want to feel truly known by brands through greater personalization, but they also want to work with brands that feel more human. Showing greater authenticity provides your brand with an advantage and builds a relationship that shows customers an unexpected side of your company.
Create “behind the scenes” video footage of your company by, for example, broadcasting via live video to show employees working to assemble products, highlighting all the time and care that goes into this process.
JetBlue is an example of a company following this humanizing strategy. To let consumers see a softer corporate side, the company recently launched a promotional campaign titled “Air on the Side of Humanity,” which focuses on the qualities that make them a company that cares about people.
The video centers on a customer pain point, which is the difficulty and stress of travel. The footage shows how the airline makes getting from point A to point B easier and showcases services and benefits that address the human side of traveling — such as the need for additional legroom.
Brands can also host a “Twitter Takeover,” where they allow an employee to run the company’s social media output for a day. The takeover could focus on ”backstage” footage and include photos, videos, and other interesting details to promote engagement.
Key takeaway. When building authenticity for your brand and creating genuine customer engagement, it’s important to start talking and acting like real people — instead of brands.
3. Build Social Proof
Social proof is what customers find (at least, it’s what you hope they’ll find!) when doing research about your company. When customers uncover positive information about your brand, you instantly gain their confidence. For example, 68 percent of customers report they trust customer reviews, which is an increase of 7 percent over the past decade. But what is the best method for building greater social proof? Here are a few tips.
- Leverage expert social proof. This is the approval from an expert or influencer who has online clout. In fact, influencer marketing content delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing. Moreover, 49 percent of customers report they rely on recommendations from influencers when making purchasing decisions. Strategically identify influencers in your space, and look for opportunities to partner to build trust.
- Capture the social proof of users. This includes online reviews or testimonials from existing customers that highlight what makes your brand different.
- Leverage the wisdom of the crowds. For example, brands can use internal statistics to provide social proof. Marketing blog Copyblogger says, “Join over 334,000 people who get free and fresh content as soon as it’s published.”
Encourage users to leave reviews and ratings, gather testimonials, and use social plugins to show that others love your products or services.
Key takeaway. One of the most critical ways to build trust with your customers is through social proof. Where are your customers spending time? Do they reach out on LinkedIn or Twitter prior to deciding if they will engage with a company? If so, work to build social proof in those channels, so customers can feel confident building relationships with your organization.
4. Create Fans
There’s nothing better for marketers than growing a dedicated and devoted fan base. For example, online retailer Amazon has built a strong and dedicated following, quickly growing to be the largest online retailer, with a customer count of roughly 30 million people. Apple has captured loyalists and fans, fostering relationships that have lasted decades. But how do you transform average customers into loyalists? The key is driving engagement through user-generated content.
GoPro, which has the tagline “Capture + Share Your World,” is the highest-performing brand on YouTube. The company fosters loyalty and builds fans by featuring user-created videos on the well-known video channel — including everything from a fireman saving a kitten to people swimming with lively sea creatures.
Key takeaway. Finding out what customers love about your brand is the starting point for creating loyal fans. Once this is identified, you can form strategies to encourage and promote user-generated content that drives greater customer engagement and trust.
5. Listen With Intention
Listening is one of the most powerful skills in marketing, but it’s about more than the process of just hearing. Get curious — about everything. Find out your customer’s desires and motivations and how can you be more emphatic and truly understand how they feel. Then harness those feelings into your marketing efforts to show the human side of your brand.
Building trust does take time and patience, but for those marketers who put in the work, the payoffs are big. Steady efforts gain momentum as customers begin spreading the word about your brand.