The experience customers have through marketing content can be one of the most important differentiators for brands today.
And yet 58% of B2B buyers don’t not believe claims made by the vendors they most recently bought from (TrustRadius).
It’s hard to create a great experience if customers don’t trust brand communications.
Trust is the gateway to influence perceptions, behaviors and actions and brands that want to succeed in the uncertain environment of today’s digital world need to double down on building trust with their customers. But how?
Today’s increasingly digital buyers have high expectations of the companies they do business with: buyers want personalized and relevant information, they want a consistent experience across channels, they want confidence in the brand as a company that cares about privacy, their customers and the community.
Meeting these expectations has been a challenge. From fake news to privacy issues to deep fakes, the digital world has become an uncertain source of information for consumers.
Tired of information overload, sales focused brand messaging and unremarkable content, 86% of customers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support (Stackla – The Consumer Content Report: Influence in the Digital Age).
Customers want what’s real. They want to trust and be confident about their decisions.
While there’s a lot of information and even misinformation about content marketing and what it means for business communicators, there’s hope in building trust and influence by creating great customer experiences with authentic content.
To help marketers better understand how brands are winning customer hearts, minds, and trust with authentic content experiences here are 5 important steps:
Accelerate Internal Credibility
In order for marketing to have the support it needs to be successful externally with customers, marketing needs to be credible inside the organization. Unfortunately, 80% of CEOs don’t trust marketers but 91% do trust CIOs and CFOs (Fournaise Group).
To earn C-level trust, marketers must identify the key business problems faced by the business and make the connection to how marketing can help solve those issues. More importantly, marketing needs to provide clear direction about how and show credible reporting about impact. Ensuring credibility internally means promoting your wins to internal stakeholders. Make sure everyone from department heads to the C-suite are aware of the results that you are delivering to the business bottom line.
As marketers use content marketing integrated across channels to create “best answer” experiences for customers, marketers must also become the best answer for business growth inside the company by focusing on and communicating what matters to the business – not fluffy marketing promises with ambiguous correlations to the impact on the business.
Double Down on Activating Customers
Word of mouth and advocacy continue to represent important sources of trust and influence for brands. Marketers need to engage customers for reviews, ratings and even user generated content. As I’ve often said,
“If you want your content to be great, ask your customers to participate.”
Build credibility and influence with customers by engaging them and making them part of the narrative that builds trust about your brand where buyers are looking.
Work with External Influencers to Grow Brand Credibility
Every brand has a story to tell and to help make that story relevant, interesting and effective amongst buyers who are probably ignoring most brand communications, marketers can engage with relevant industry influencers. What makes someone influential is that they have the trust and attention of your customers. What better way to add credibility to your brand content than to collaborate with people who already have that credibility?
Virtually any kind of external content that brands create can consider influencer collaboration to make it more credible, relevant, engaging and capable of actually reaching the audience it is intended for. Authenticity is essential for influencer collaborations to work so it’s important that marketers do their due diligence with influencers through proper identification, qualification and engagement best practices.
Create a Content Collaboration Ecosystem
Most marketers don’t have all the content creation resources they need to create the kind of content that drives customer experience. Engaging influencers to collaborate on content is a great start. But to truly build authenticity and content experiences that matter, customers can be engaged as well. User generated content is not for everyone, but when customers can contribute their voices to brand content, it adds a level of authenticity and trust that most marketing departments are able to on their own.
Employees are another important source of authentic content for brands, whether it’s telling stories about the impact those employees have on the lives of customers or by enlisting employees to help tell the brand story.
Optimize Measurement to Customer ROI
Creating trust with authentic content experiences must be a measurable exercise. Beyond share of voice and brand sentiment metrics, marketers must pay attention to measuring the effectiveness of content through the customer journey.
At a minimum, marketers must understand the the impact in these key areas:
- Attract – Is your marketing reaching the right audience in the channels they’re actually influenced by?
- Engage – Is your marketing creating meaningful and satisfying experiences? Are you effectively using authenticity and influence to build trust?
- Convert – Is the content you’re creating and co-creating actually inspiring action? Are those actions delivering impact for the business whether it’s brand perception, leads, sales or revenue?
Beyond these important steps towards more effective content marketing that drives trust are the influence traits brands must have to build trust:
Purpose: “In this time of turmoil people are turning to brands as islands of stability.” Richard Edelman. How will the world be different after you’re successful doing what you do? How does that narrative translate into your marketing?
Relevance: Use data to understand your internal/external customer and create compelling, useful content experiences that matter. Leverage the voices of your customers, prospects, and those they trust to help add credibility and context to your message.
Reach: Become “the best answer” for your customers with content that is easy to find and exists in context wherever buyers engage.
Resonance: Understand audience motivations through the buyer journey to inform messaging that “clicks” and inspires action and makes real, measurable business impact.
I hope you can join me at the virtual IABC Minnesota Convergence Summit conference this week where I will be giving the opening keynote on Wednesday August 12th at 4pm: In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience. I’ll be digging into the current state of content marketing as well as sharing examples of brands walking the talk on authenticity and content marketing.