How to Gain the Trust of Your Readers
Trust is one of the most important elements within a content marketing strategy and thankfully, building this rapport is easier than you may think.
Many articles focusing around the concept of content marketing tend to emphasise decidedly mechanical aspects such as SEO, search engine rankings and social media campaigns. However, it is important to realise that all of these tools will prove to be utterly useless if you are unable to gain the trust of your reader. After all, would you ever purchase a product or service if you doubted its efficacy? Would you take the claims of a fake news source at face value? In this sense, we are obviously referring to second-to-none levels of transparency. It is one thing to make exorbitant claims about what you are promoting. It is entirely another to back up these statements with confidence, customer-based loyalty and facts. What actions can you take to gain the trust of your readers over time?
Addressing a Demanding Digital Society
It is first important to fully appreciate just how important of a role trust now plays within the realm of content marketing. For example, were you aware that an average customer will examine more than eleven online resources before deciding which one to engage with? While traditional psychology (buyer beware) is certainly a component here, we must also recognise the fact that individuals are bombarded with hundreds of advertisements every day. Trust, therefore, represents a very real commodity in these modern times. When we also take into account how many promises have failed to meet their mark, it becomes completely understandable why trust is now displayed as a hard-earned “badge of honour” within the digital domain. Now that we have examined some of the basics, let us jump right into a handful of strategies to employ if you hope to foster such a mutually beneficial relationship.
Define Your Audience
This is the first step within Any content marketing campaign and it is just as important to mention here. From a very broad perspective, your audience can be broken down into two different categories:
- Those who are actively looking to purchase a product or service.
- Those who follow your content and share it with others.
Why is this important? Each of these segments should be provided with content infused with specific information. For example, buyers need to be presented with short-term offers on the relevant products, last-minute deals and calls to action. Readers are instead looking to be kept up to date from a broader point of view as opposed to being presented with an actionable sales pitch. Providing each category with the right information will ensure that they remain loyal over time. Furthermore, those who classify themselves as followers could soon take the next step and evolve into a buyer.
All About Authority
Content which is embedded with authoritative references is bound to score higher in terms of transparency and respectability. There are two reasons behind this rather straightforward observation. First and foremost, the reader will be provided with an extra level of confidence in what you have to say. This can help to speed them along the engagement process and even if a sale is not made, he or she is not likely to doubt future claims.
The second motivating factor (unsurprisingly) involves Google. Believe it or not, Google algorithms will categorise a website within its search engine results page partially based upon trust. This is known as Google TrustRank. This ranking is centred around “trust signals”. Some of these metrics include:
- Outbound linking to authoritative sources (as mentioned above).
- Privacy notices alongside specific terms and conditions.
- The number of unrelated pop-up links.
- How many times users have blocked your website.
- How long the average individual stays on your site.
Portals which enjoy respectable Google rankings tend to be associated with higher degrees of transparency and trust.
The Strength of Visual Assets
Multimedia content marketing is another component of the trust factor. While blocks of text might verbally prove a point, try to remember that we live within a visual society. This observation is backed up by the fact that up to 65 per cent of B2B executives feel that graphical elements such as images and videos increase the appeal of what would otherwise prove to be rather straightforward content. Not only can these additions help to break up a long and possible boring text, but they will serve to summarise the points that you are trying to make. Let’s also remember that visual aids feature prominently within many mobile marketing strategies. Always try to include relevant images and videos within your presentations.
The Personalised Author Touch
Human interactions still play a very real role within the digital domain. While the firmness and solidarity of a handshake might not be possible, the next best thing is often the ability for readers to personally identify with the writer. This is often accomplished with the addition of an author bio at the end of an article as well as his or her photograph. This is an excellent way to build an interpersonal rapport and if a website visitor happens to have a question, it can be directed towards the right individual.
Using the Right Tone of Voice
Tone of voice will often subconsciously influence how content is interpreted. While this can sometimes depend upon the material being discussed, it is normally best to identify directly with the reader by using terms such as “you”, “yours” and “we”. To put it simply, writing in the first person is recommended when promoting a product or service. This age-old sales tactic has been used for decades and it continues to enjoy prominence well into the present day. However, there still may be times when technical pieces (such as describing the maintenance of a bathroom tap) could be better if they appear more impersonal and to the point. Try to make a sound judgement based off of the context as well as your audience.
Knowing the Difference Between Content and Marketing
Although this might sound slightly counter-intuitive when we consider the subject of this article, there is a major difference between content and marketing. Content revolves around the curation of quality material that resonates with the end user. Marketing is associated with selling a product or service based off of the impact of this information. Content should never appear as if it is being sold as fodder to a hungry reader. It must be able to stand on its own in terms of quality and the message that is being conveyed; even if no call to action is present. This is also why it is critical to recognise the disparity between subscribers and conversions.
Let’s imagine that a retail-related social media page boasts thousands of followers. However, the associated conversion rates are quite low. What does this say about the written content? While it might be entertaining and informing, it has failed to build a level of trust that motivates the reader to take the next step in the sales process. Writers should attempt to find a fine balance between content and the concept of marketing. Simply stated, those who feel as if they are being sold something after reading a handful of sentences are much less likely to buy.
The digital age has ushered in a host of tools which can help marketers analyse their audience and determine their primary interests. Unfortunately, this pales in comparison to hands-on communication. A recent report submitted by the Content Marketing Institute found that only 42 per cent of marketing professionals actually engage in direct dialogue with their audience. They tend to rely more upon big data, analytics and historical sales statistics.
Once again, how can trust be nurtured if real-world communication is supplicated by digital research tools? Content curators need to endeavour to obtain valuable and personalised suggestions if they hope to fully resonate with the reader. This type of interpersonal interaction will also illustrate that the company cares about the feedback provided by its followers.
Remember Brand Consistency
Take a bit of time to research the most devastating marketing blunders of recent years. Many of these situations involved a company erroneously believing that re-branding itself would provide a “fresh start” to an otherwise stagnant sales campaign (one example involves Coca-Cola changing the flavour of its trademark drink for a short time during the 1980s). A trustworthy brand presence is all about consistency and reliability. Customers who know what to expect from quality content are much more likely to trust the material and any subsequent claims that are made. The Marketing Insider Group points out that you otherwise risk tarnishing your reputation and sabotaging previous curation efforts.
Proactively Addressing Feedback
We all love responding to praise for a job well done. However, what about complaints or negative reviews? Are these given an equal amount of attention? It is critical to address both positive and negative customer feedback in order to obtain the full picture. After all, the first step in rectifying a problem is becoming aware of its existence.
The other major point to emphasise here is that customers will respond positively to marketers who honestly deal with opinions that might counteract their own. This illustrates humility and above all, a willingness to take a certain amount of criticism. This is also the precursor to building a relationship cemented upon mutual trust. So, be sure to regularly engage your customers through social media outlets and similar portals.
Embed Social Proof Within Your Content
The notion of social proof has existed since the halcyon days of marketing and yet, it is just as important in these modern times. When we consider the fact that recommendations go a long way towards building trust, this observation makes perfect sense. It is therefore slightly surprising that a relatively small percentage of online content contains positive testimonials from third parties. On the contrary, this material tends to be relegated to the bottom of the homepage; only visible if the reader chooses to scroll past other important information.
It is always a good idea to include snippets of social proof within the content itself. This can be used in lieu of multimedia or high-definition images if needed. The bottom line is that building trust involves illustrating what others have had to say about your products or services in the past. Never be afraid to let your brand shine.
Spend More to Achieve More
We must now deal with a rather pragmatic approach to trust-building content strategies. The average marketing budget has increased in recent years and the lion’s share of these funds are being allocated towards bespoke content creation. This does not only involve employing trained writers and experienced industry experts, but it also stresses the fact that more time must be devoted to fabricating high-quality posts that will resonate with your readers based upon the variables mentioned earlier in this article. Companies that are hesitant to expand their content creation budgets are increasing the likelihood that they will descend into the flotsam and jetsam of digital anonymity.
A Commonly Used Word with a Massive Impact
Trust is likely to be one of the most overused words within the English language. This is often the case in regards to marketing, as it tends to be thrown around with little thought in regards to its actual impact upon content creation. To be clear, trust will not be built overnight and it takes time to breed loyalty. However, one trusting customer is more valuable than ten followers who simply peruse your writing without taking any further action.
In the same respect, creating trustworthy content is not necessarily brain surgery. It simply takes insight and a willingness to connect with the psychological component of your audience. There is no doubt that you will be pleased with the results.