How to persuade customers they can trust your content

One of the tests of how successful your business is to check how much your customers trust you.

Unlike a quick sale, trust takes time, effort and diligence to earn. There are several ways in which a business can gain the trust of its customers. While providing them with the best-quality products and services works well, having transparent and realistic marketing practices in place can also go a long way in inspiring customer confidence.

As a marketer your job is two-fold. You’re not just entrusted with the faith that your existing customers have reposed in your business, you also have the additional responsibility of winning over new customers.

At no point is it an option to pick just one of the two groups and focus on them. It’s a constant balancing act and one that is richly rewarding if done right.

Using content is a great way to establish trust between your company and customers. However, creating trust-inspiring content can be a tricky affair, and if not done carefully, it can backfire.

Read on to learn about some tried and tested ways of using content to not just dazzle your target audiences, but also win over their trust and long-term loyalty.

Empathize with your audience

Before you try to win your audience over, you need to understand them. Observing customer behavior closely will help you here.

Investing in social listening tools like Mention is a great way to learn more about your users and how they feel about your brand. Discover the themes that resonate with your audience and create content around them to win them over. Shared values are a solid foundation to build lifelong relationships with your customers.

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Digging into your website’s analytics will also yield detailed customer profiles that will help you understand what your customers want and how they behave.

In addition to your regular analytics, try business dashboards like QlikView and shared visual analytics tools like Tableau to unearth data about how your audience interacts with your content at various online touchpoints.

The information you unearth can then be plugged back into your content to make it more meaningful and targeted to each stage of the purchase funnel.

A brand that speaks that same language as its users is a lot more likely to claim and retain their loyalties than one that does not.

Be interesting, yet honest

People care about stories, not about boring facts and figures. This is evident in how quickly celebrity gossip is lapped up by the masses while factual documentaries dealing with more serious problems enjoy only niche audiences. Tap into this fascination for stories by creating content that tells your customer about your brand but in interesting story-like formats.

Some examples of interesting storytelling ideas include slice of life stories from your employees that tell users the little things that go into building their favorite brand.

Or you could have a video testimonial from an existing customer telling the story of how your product transformed their life. You could even share the story of how your business came into being to build an emotional connection with your audience.

Here’s the story of how Varun Agrawal went from failing his engineering course to founding Alma Mater, India’s biggest college memorabilia company, worth more than a million dollars: 

By baring your vulnerable side, you’re telling customers that you trust them with your story. Going by Robert Cialdini’s Principle of Reciprocity, you are sure to earn their trust back in kind.

A key aspect to keep in mind when storytelling is to keep your stories genuine. Users can smell a rat from a mile away and beat a hasty retreat as soon as they realize that they’re being fibbed to.

Keep up with trends

The most highly desired target demographic for brands right now is the controversially named millennials. The reasoning behind this is that as 16-30 year olds they are more likely to be the most ‘on-trend’ when it comes to technology, fashion, lifestyle, even politics. 

Make sure you stay on the top of your game by keeping yourself abreast of the latest industry trends. Not only will you become a trusted source of the latest news for your audience, you’ll also be respected for being relevant to what your audience seeks out.

Burberry goes for a decidedly younger look with ads featuring Emma Watson, targeted at ‘millennials’. 

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However, do not lose your brand identity in this quest for cool. Strike a balance between being trendy and experienced to make sure you’re taken seriously and not dismissed as the flavor of the week.

Give users new reasons to keep coming back to your content by giving them something distinctive and new every time they visit your page.

Establish your authority

Content is your calling card on the internet.

Publish funny memes and GIFs regularly? Users will flock to you to be entertained. Write great movie reviews? Movie buffs will flock to your site to read your reviews before shilling out dollars on the latest box office bonanza. Pride yourself on your detailed research reports and whitepapers? Expect users to quote you and look up to your brand as an authority in its domain. 

Talk show host and media mogul Oprah Winfrey, uses her substantial clout to promote new and upcoming authors through her eponymous Book Club. 

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Whatever your industry niche may be, work on developing content that commands this level of authority.

It’s impossible to fake quality. It’s also impossible to ignore quality. So when your users see quality content coming from your stables, the association of high quality rubs off onto your business and its image as well.

Have a content creation schedule

Before you say “Meh” remember that human beings are creatures of habit. From the toothpaste you use to your morning cuppa and your choice of smartphone, habit forms the basis of a lot of critical actions. More often than not, users trust cozy familiarity over the fresh-in-town upstarts.

Tip your hat to your users’ need for a routine by committing to a content calendar. By having a content creation schedule in place, you will not only keep your target audience engaged, but also portray yourself as more trustworthy and dependable to them.

It is extremely important that your audience keeps receiving updated and relevant content about your brand at regular intervals. Whether you publish infographics or blogs, do so in a consistent and predictable manner to let your audience know that you are active, present and constantly working to provide them with the desired information and solutions.

Be consistent

Taking a cue from the previous section, consistency should not end with posting regular content updates. It is even more critical to develop a distinct brand voice and tone, and maintain them across all the content that you publish, whether online or offline.

Avoid the unpredictability of being laugh out loud funny one day and boringly authoritarian the next. Any compromise on that front and your credibility and professionalism can become questionable.

Consistency in design, layout, colors and artwork across all your content channels helps your brand come across as more stable and reliable. In order to trust you, you will have to consistently give your audience what they expect of your brand.

Coca-Cola has managed to retain the essence of its brand through consistent imagery and typefaces over the last 130 years. 

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Make your content easily accessible

Out of sight is truly out of mind in our cluttered digital world. While it is a lot less effort to pick one content marketing platform and focus all your energies on it, this approach may not get you the best bang for your buck.

Understand that your audiences are voracious content consumers and flit from one medium to another in a matter of seconds.

To make sure that you reach them and leave a lasting impact in their minds, it is essential that your content is present on all the channels that are favored by your target audience. It doesn’t necessarily have to be completely new pieces of content for each channel. Repurposing existing content to suit the format of a new channel is a quick fix that is light on the pocket and effective in reaching out to larger audiences.

National Geographic has adopted Facebook’s Instant Articles format to reach wider audiences.

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The more extensively you distribute your high-quality content, the easier you will make it for audiences to find and access your brand. This in turn, will bring you positive word of mouth and solidify your position in your industry. It will also make it easier for customers to trust you.

Be factually correct and support your claims

It is so easy to get carried away in your own yarns that the line between facts and fabrication get blurred ever so lightly. Trouble is, it’s equally easy today for consumers to discover the truth behind your claims.

In such a scenario, the only workable option is to stick to the absolute truth in every piece of content you create, curate and publish. Make sure that the information you provide in your content is 100% factual and all your facts, quotes and statistics are supported with authoritative third-party citations.

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Users become apprehensive when they come across information that isn’t adequately cited. Fact checking and citing your references will show your readers that you care enough to be honest and precise. This is the first step towards winning your users’ trust.

Respond to questions and feedback

It makes sense to answer customers’ questions and respond to their feedback (positive and negative) at the earliest, without making them wait too long. This way your audience will know that you’re always around to solve their problems and respond to their queries when they need you to, and eventually view you as trustworthy.

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Your website FAQ section, support ticket system, review sites, emails, and social media customer service channels are just some of the ways you can deal with customers’ queries online.

Why not use the big daddy of all content formats, video, to walk them through something?

You could conduct one-on-one and private chats with not only your customers, but also vendors, partners or even focus groups, using a videoconferencing or webinar tool like ClickMeeting. You could then turn moderated parts of recorded videos into demos for a broader audience.

Show that you’re not only about profit

Distribute your first-rate content free of cost. Nothing demonstrates your well-meaning attitude more than providing valuable tools. Let your customers know that you’re working towards making a positive difference to society as such, and your activity is much more than a profit-making gimmick.

Outdoor brand Patagonia is entirely devoted to its focus on the great outdoors. Its footprint in the blogosphere embodies everything that the brand stands for. Patagonia eats, breathes and lives sustainability through its content. How many brands can run an ad like this? 

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Once your customers see that you are clearly above making a quick buck off of every action you take, their faith in your brand demonstrably rises. They are reassured that your business has a higher purpose, and that you consider them as partners in this purpose and not simply cash cows to be milked at every opportunity.

Coda

High-quality and credible content is hard to come across online. This is why, when audiences do stumble upon such content, they lap it up without hesitation.

The secret to an evergreen brand lies in creating top-notch and consistent content that stands in good stead with your target audience for years to come. 

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