The road to content marketing success is paved with consumer trust

by Samantha Waterworth

The online marketplace isn’t afraid of chewing brands up and spitting them out, and it has never been more important for brands to ensure their digital offerings rise above the rest. Here’s why developing a strong sense of consumer trust is do or die…

In today’s digital-first world, consumers have a weapon at hand for cutting through the communication crowding their attention: choice.

When it comes to the services and products they allow into their daily lives, consumers prioritise and discern based on personal interest and time available. The implication for brands is to appreciate that their customers’ attention is a privilege, and to deserve it their content should be personalised. When executed properly, brands undoubtedly reap the rewards of building and maintaining customer confidence.

What contemporary brands fail to understand is that consumer trust cannot be bought, sold or won – knowledge that goes hand-in-hand with success. With this in mind, brands need to know who their customers are – what they do, what they like, where they live, etc. – and how to connect with them on a personal level.

Check out this example from General Electric – it leaves a mark doesn’t it?

Personalisation vs. privacy

Brands are increasingly leveraging their customer data in order to deliver premier, personalised customer experiences. However, with a data-driven media landscape, brands will either rise to the challenge or fall by the wayside when it comes to the fine line between personalisation and privacy.

Personalisation is effective. Done well, personalisation can drive sales and increase consumer engagement. But done poorly, as it often is, personalisation presents a real danger. Former BRW editor, and multi-award winning journalist and author, Jeanne-Vida Douglas, certainly understands the challenge that personalisation represents.

“The digitally savvy public is very, very aware that personalisation is being attempted; precisely because it’s not being attempted well,” she says. “Personalisation is nowhere near as effective or as sophisticated as any marketing software company would have you believe, and as a result, it’s absurdly misdirected and ridiculously misused.”

consumer trust in content marketing

Podcaster, Presenter, Content Strategist, Executive Producer and Editorial Director extraordinaire – Jeanne-Vida Douglas.

Crucial to the success of personalisation is the accumulation of data. But how can brands convince customers to part with their privacy?

A recent DMA report found that the most significant factor that convinces people to share personal data is their level of trust in a brand. But this won’t always be the case.

“Personalisation is going to change,” says Douglas. “At the moment, information services and marketing is being delivered to you and personalised for you by someone else. I think we’re increasingly going to get to the point where the consumer is personalising his or her own services; where the consumer has the power.

“And the more people control their own personalisation, the more authentic brand messaging is going to need to be,” she adds.

How it’s done

So what does it take to become a category leader when it comes to building and maintaining consumer trust?

To start with you can look at the brands that are doing well in this space. For instance, a recent report by CMS Wire found that over 30% of Amazon’s revenue comes from personalised recommendations, and around 75% of Netflix’s rental sales are due to targeted suggestions.

These are two brands that are providing a blueprint for how to deliver a premier customer experience. And their secret? Putting their customers’ bottom line ahead of their own. For instance, Amazon has a marketing strategy that involves crediting money back to account holders if an item they had previously purchased suddenly decreases in value  – even if it’s a measly sixteen cents.

By doing this, Amazon presents itself as a brand that is honest, a brand that values integrity, and a brand that is devoted to putting its customer first – resulting in an active user count sitting at 244 million, as of mid-2014.

consumer trust in content marketing

Personalised recommendations dominant the Amazon webpage.

To take a homegrown example, let’s look at Australia Post. Greg Sutherland, CMO at Australia Post, recently acknowledged that, “it’s no longer what we say, it’s what customers say that counts.”

As Australia’s primary postal service, trust plays a significant role when it comes to the values and standards that underpin the brand – clearly, consumers need to be able to trust that their goods are going to be delivered as expected. Lo and behold, Australia Post have danced in the face of digital disruption and come to acknowledge the growing importance of a customer-focused business approach.

“Ultimately, we are shifting from being a network-centric business that got excited by trucks and motorbikes, and which delivered to addresses, to a customer-centric business, where we deliver to a person. It’s the experience a customer has inside of that process that makes the difference, said Andrew Walduck, executive GM at Australia Post.

“And we need to get that right every time to those 11 million homes we deliver to everyday, and to the million people that come into a post office on our busiest day, plus the hundreds of millions of interactions online. There are lots of opportunities to get it right, as well as not,” he added.

consumer trust in content marketing

The website of Australia Post today is a far cry from what it was five years ago.

The take away 

Developing an enduring relationship of trust between your customers and your brand is no walk in the park, but it can and will prove to be an invaluable asset to the future successes of your company (just ask Amazon).

A few things to keep in mind when it comes to consumer trust:

  • Understand the privilege: With more products and services on the market than ever before, your customer’s time needs to be earned, and it will be earned through trust in your brand.

  • Know how to walk the tightrope: Deliver a personalised experience that is based on big data but keep in mind that personalisation gone wrong can reek havoc when it comes to brand trust. If you’re going to walk the tightrope between personalisation and privacy, be sure you know what you’re doing (or know somebody who does).

  • The bottom line: Put your customer first. The best way to develop and maintain consumer trust is to simply be trustworthy. The integrity that comes from this approach is a marketing strategy that can work wonders.

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