But the difference is that companies using content to educate and engage their audiences can control the platform and message with their unique brand language. And when a company communicates with transparency, it can turn brand skeptics into brand believers.
Don’t Underestimate the Value of Trust
Trust affects buying behaviors in every industry. It’s especially relevant in e-commerce, where companies rely on consumer confidence in their processes to make a sale. Collaborative relationships founded on trust also help B2B sales professionals connect with prospects, which can significantly reduce customer acquisition costs, too.
But trust is an ambiguous and generic term thrown around in different contexts, so what does it mean for companies? In buyer/seller relationships, it refers to the confidence consumers have that a company’s product will provide unmatched value, the brand has their interests at heart, and it will consistently deliver on their expectations.
According to a 2010 Edelman study on trust, here are the top three factors that affect the public’s trust in a company:
1. Transparent and Honest Practices
People don’t like to be tricked or deceived. Clarifying your service agreements, return policies, how you treat employees, and where your products come from facilitates a trustworthy relationship between brands and consumers. When people feel companies are hiding behind bureaucracy, they’re less inclined to trust them.
2. Quality Products
If your product or service doesn’t provide the promised results, customers will see your brand as unreliable, which can be a difficult label to shake. Starting with a consistently superior product will help your other trust-building techniques naturally fall into place.
3. Frequent Communication
This is the area we’ll be focusing on. Communicating effectively, transparently, and often is incredibly important for building and maintaining high levels of trust with all company stakeholders.
How Content Can Fuel High-Trust Relationships
Consistently publishing content that your customers find valuable can help steer you down the road to establishing a trustworthy brand name. Here are a few methods you can use to build trust through content.
1. Add value first, and sell second.
Giving before you receive is a fundamental principle in building trust. Harnessing content to relay valuable information to customers and help them overcome potential issues is the first building block in establishing trust.
If your company offers SaaS, writing an article outlining five questions to ask yourself to determine which product is right for you can help readers navigate a difficult decision. If you manipulate each question in this article to become a sales pitch for your company, customers will be skeptical of your intentions. Utilize content to add value to the reader, and save the pitch for the sales call. It will start the relationship off on a solid foundation of trust.
2. Incorporate content throughout the sales cycle.
Prospects are sick of the “just following up” email. Instead of falling back on this generic approach, send links to valuable content in these emails to consistently educate your prospects throughout the sales cycle and keep your company top of mind. An email meant to provide prospects with unique or significant industry news is more helpful (and more memorable) than the seventh email asking whether they’ve read the proposal.
Staying on your audience’s radar through content is a major component of the frequent communication that bolsters trust. You probably have more faith in the co-workers you interact with every day than the elusive business owner who pops in once every three weeks. Using content to “check in” with a client deviates from the traditional salesy emails, maintains and nurtures viable relationships, and adds value first.
3. Use examples that showcase your knowledge and results.
People don’t trust you because they like you — they trust you because you know your stuff. If you comment intelligently on real-world examples and showcase your expertise in the content you write, it will reassure readers that you have the knowledge and means to help them.
4. Humanize your brand through internal experts.
People trust people, not brands. If you’re a large company, showcasing the faces behind the brand and addressing customers on a personal level through content will humanize your image and give them names they can trust. If your audience has confidence in the individuals behind your brand, they’ll associate that positive rapport with your company and its products.
How to Scale Trust Through Content
Getting 10 people to trust you is fairly easy. But convincing 10,000 people that you’re trustworthy presents a much bigger challenge. To scale confidence in your brand, you have to scale communication. Content can help you accomplish this, but it requires a well-defined strategy.
Consider these tactics for scaling trust.
1. Empower multiple internal experts.
When attempting to humanize your brand, don’t rely on one individual to amplify your brand voice. Establish multiple thought leaders in your company who are experts in different areas or who appeal to different audiences.
Creating and publishing content from multiple experts on your team can showcase the breadth and depth of industry knowledge your company possesses, and it produces more opportunities to engage directly with your customer base.
2. Interact with individual customers.
Once you have several internal experts publishing content, hold them accountable for engaging with readers one-on-one. Responding to comments, interacting on social media, or even reaching out to individuals in the industry and asking for their feedback on an article are great ways to personalize your efforts and actively involve the audience.
3. Embrace content as a marketing asset.
When you create well-written content that educates and engages your precise target audience, you can repurpose it for other marketing channels. Whether that’s sharing it through social media, featuring it on your home page, or including it in your email marketing, you should use every means possible to involve your current audience in the great content you’re producing.
Consumers are more willing to buy from people they trust. Aligning your content creation with trust-building efforts can help instill confidence in potential clients and position your brand as honest and dependable. And the word-of-mouth marketing that follows will cue the qualified leads to start pouring in.