If you’ve worked in marketing for any length of time, you know that trust is a crucial building block in the relationship between a brand and its customers. But unfortunately, many companies still aren’t sure how to facilitate the trust needed to win over and retain new business.
In fact, 54% of customers say they don’t trust brands.
So, how can we as marketers establish a trustworthy brand? The answer is surprisingly simple: create better, more trustworthy content.
Think about it this way ― establishing a trusted brand begins with how you communicate as a business. And, in many cases, companies communicate via marketing content. If that content sends the wrong message, misses the mark, or leaves a prospect or customer with a bad impression of your business, it can be extremely difficult to get back in their good graces.
For this reason, it’s a great idea to start off on the right foot. Today we teach you five subtle yet creative reputation management strategies to help you win over customers with each piece of content you create. Let’s get into it!
1. Prioritize storytelling.
Put yourself in the consumer’s position and consider what type of online marketing content resonates with you. What was the last marketing campaign you bought into? No matter what advertisement, brand, or campaign comes to mind, there’s a good chance it features several basic elements of storytelling.
When it comes to marketing content, storytelling is the most effective tactic to evoke an emotional response. A narrative complete with real human perspectives and relatable scenarios will facilitate trust much quicker than traditional boilerplate content. In fact, neuro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily rely on emotions rather than factual information to make a decision.
Any brand, regardless of the products and services they offer, can tell compelling stories in their content. Here are a few brand storytelling methods that are guaranteed to drive more trust in your brand:
Tell your customers’ stories: Showing off your customers’ positive experience with your business is one of the best ways to improve your online reputation. Create in-depth testimonials and success stories where specific customers are the subjects of the narrative. Allow your audience to see firsthand what they can achieve by working with you.
Tell the story of your employees: Showcase your employees and company culture to humanize your brand. And don’t just limit their stories to the careers page of your website. Leverage social media, your blog, and other channels to show off your employees. For example, you could run an “Employee of the Month” video series that highlights a specific employee, their accomplishments, personal hobbies and more.
Tell your company’s story: Although it’s a great idea to always make the customer the hero of your story, don’t be afraid to share a little about yourself. How and why was your company started? What values does your company hold as most important? Create content that gives your audience a peek behind the curtain and tracks the evolution of your company, all the way from an idea to a successful business.
Storytelling doesn’t require a major change to your online reputation management strategy, as it can exist in any form of marketing content. The next time you approach a piece of content, ask yourself: “How can I tell a story with this topic?” This small change in your approach can result in more engaging, emotionally resonant, and trustworthy content.
2. Create interactive content.
Modern technology has changed content marketing in a number of ways — the most exciting of which is the introduction of interactive content. For those who aren’t familiar, interactive content is designed to facilitate audience participation. The most obvious benefit of interactive content is increased engagement, as 81% of marketers agree that interactive content grabs attention more effectively than static content. It’s also super shareable, and when content heads your way from a trusted friend in your personal network, the content itself feels more trustworthy.
But, interactive content itself can also drive brand trust. Think of it this way: a traditional piece of content requires a passive audience. Readers might scroll through a blog post or press play on a video, but there’s no telling how engaged and invested they are. On the other hand, interactive content empowers your audience. By making them active participants, you facilitate a stronger connection between your audience and your brand.
While many brands achieve success with interactive infographics and “choose-your-own-adventure” style videos, interactive content doesn’t require fancy AI and complex technology. Quizzes, pricing calculators, and online contests are all great ways to involve your audience in the content you offer.
In order to successfully facilitate trust through interactive content, remember to always offer value. The success of this tactic hinges how well you’re able to personalize the end result or experience-- thus leaving no doubt in your customer’s mind that this particular piece of content is trustworthy because it was built specifically for them.
3. Encourage user generated content.
As much as it hurts to admit, we can see why modern customers don’t trust marketers. After all, marketers have a clear motive. For this reason, one of the best online reputation management strategies is leveraging the words, photos, and content of others — through user-generated content.
User-generated content (UGC) is content related to your brand and products created by users or customers who have no professional affiliation with your company. Because UGC is created by your audience, for your audience, it’s a more effective trust-builder than traditional content. Consider these statistics:
User-generated product reviews are trusted 12 times more than promotional marketing content.
51% of consumers trust user-generated content over information on your brand’s website.
92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth more than any type of advertising.
Despite the benefits of user-generated content, only 16% of brands have a UGC strategy in place. Here are some tips to encourage your audience to create and share content related to your brand.
Leverage social listening: Good news — there’s plenty of user-generated content that already exists. Practice social listening tactics such as tracking mentions, branded hashtags, and tagged photos to uncover the opinions people express about your company on social media. You’ll likely find a number of photos, reviews and positive comments you can immediately share with the rest of your audience.
Repurpose survey results: Customer feedback is not only essential to improve and grow your business, but it can also provide the framework for valuable content. Incorporate product feedback or customer surveys into your marketing content in the form of testimonials, quotes, promotional images, and more.
Host a contest or giveaway: You’ll receive more user-generated content if you provide an incentive. Create a contest or giveaway in which users receive prizes for posting content related to your brand or products.
The best part about user-generated content is that it doesn’t demand a lot of time and resources from your team. And, given its unique ability to drive brand trust, there’s no excuse not to prioritize UGC in both your online reputation management and content marketing strategies.
4. Leverage negative customer feedback.
Believe it or not, negative customer feedback can be just as valuable to your online reputation management strategy as glowing praise. Think about it — what’s the most trustworthy quality a brand can have? If you ask us, it’s transparency.
Customers want brands to admit when they make mistakes, fall short of expectations, or fail to execute an idea. Those are the qualities that make us human, and hiding your flaws is a quick way to lose trust and raise suspicion. Instead, learn to embrace your negative reviews and harsh feedback by turning them into content.
Here’s an example: let’s say you recently rolled out an updated version of your product, and this update got rid of a few features you deemed unnecessary. You receive negative feedback from customers who wish they’d been made more aware of these changes before installing the update.
Rather than ignore these criticisms, you include them in a newsletter you distribute to your entire customer base. You begin the email, “We missed the mark with your recent product update,” and proceed to explain what you’ll do differently moving forward.
This tactic may seem simple, but such gestures go a long way toward establishing your brand as transparent and trustworthy.
5. Map content to the buyer’s journey.
Our last tip to promote brand trust is more of a long term reputation management strategy than a one-off tactic, but it’s worth the effort. If you want your audience to trust your brand as a source of consistently valuable content, you should map your content to the individual stages of the buyer’s journey.
The needs of your prospects vary greatly throughout the course of the sales cycle. Meaning, they’ll respond to very different styles of content depending on where they are in their journey. For example, a prospect in the early stages of the buyer’s journey will be most interested in vendor-neutral content like blog posts and infographics. Conversely, someone towards the end of the buyer’s journey will respond better to more in-depth, product-specific content.
Align your content strategy to your buyer’s journey and you’ll ensure that you always deliver the right content to the right people at the right time. This consistency will show your audience that you genuinely understand their needs and interests and that you want to guide them through the buyer’s journey by providing valuable content.
For more information on creating a comprehensive content mapping strategy by reading the following post: Content Mapping for Marketing Success.
Marketing professionals are often driven by results — constantly under pressure to prove that the content they create is contributing to the growth of their business. This pressure is often the root cause of the overly-promotional, deceptive marketing content we see online every day.
But remember, building trust is more important than achieving quick results. Clickbait might perform well in the short-term but it will ultimately diminish your brand’s authenticity and reliability. Earn the trust of your customers by offering valuable, authentic content — and the trust you earn will be the foundation for the long-term success of your business.
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About the author
Sam Holzman is a Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo where he writes for their B2B blog. ZoomInfo is a leading contact database that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. Sam regularly covers topics related to sales, marketing and recruiting, and likes to write about sports and travel in his free time.