Effective marketing strategies can be delivered in many ways, but they have certain aims in common, such as increasing website traffic.
Still, the difference between getting visitors to your site and building a loyal following is huge. In order to grow your audience and nurture long-lasting relationships, you need more than a constant flow of enticed prospects. You need a brand that people trust.
How do you build trust? A 2012 study called “The Trust Factor” has some interesting answers to offer. According to participants, a trustworthy brand is the one that uses its content to deliver accurate, helpful and relevant information without trying to shamelessly self-promote and sell.
Here’s are 8 characteristics of content that develop trust.
1. Content that develops trust: is written for enthusiasts by enthusiasts
Perhaps you’re a seasoned content writer, but think of yourself as a niche blogger instead of an expert. Even though a slight change of attitude can make you influential, creating with passion rather than pomposity has its own benefits too.
People consume content in different ways and for many reasons – while some read to pass time, others do it to find a solution to a problem. Then again, there are those who devour their daily portions in the hope of getting inspired.
These are the enthusiasts who want nothing but an opportunity to learn more and get excited. In simpler terms, they need content that’s been written by like-minded people that are just as fervent about the subject at hand as they are. Though welcome, expertise is not of crucial importance here.
A 2010 study found that the most-emailed New York Times articles were the ones that tugged at the reader’s heart strings and inspired positive feelings. Being written for enthusiasts by enthusiasts, they compelled readers to spread the message further and stand behind it.
This tactic can nurture brand ambassadors. This type of content is great for generating social proof and building trust in the most organic way possible.
2. Content that develops trust: shows a deep level of understanding and experience
Solution-seekers are a different audience. While researching their problem, they pay close attention to what they read and trust nothing but content written with experience and expertise.
Expert content has to be insightful and useful. It requires a deep understanding of the topic and provides resolutions written by authorities in the industry. Such high-quality content comes from both first-hand experience and comprehensive research, thereby enveloping a wide range of proven suggestions, tips and solutions that readers can trust and apply.
To develop trust, your words should exude enthusiasm and expertise at the same time. It may seem hard to reconcile these discursive differences, but consider this: when written in simple, conversational language, expert content can be both informational and exciting.
3. Content that develops trust: provides plenty of quality references to back up its main point
While link building has an irreplaceable spot in content marketing, the potential of source linking is mostly unleveraged. Data-driven content can establish you as an expert, but these articles need to be backed up by the data’s original context.
The line between creation and curation is a thin one. If crossed, it can diminish the credibility of your entire brand, but if maintained with source links and quality references, it actually builds it.
4. Content that develops trust: avoids marketing clichés and offers a dose of honesty
In the digital publishing age, there are plenty of content creators to compete with. If you don’t have anything original to show, you won’t be able to stand out from the crowd. But, if you develop a whole marketing strategy around transparency, the competitive edge is yours.
Take an example from Everlane. This online clothing and accessories retailer built its story around its tagline – Radical Transparency. By offering complete disclosure of sourcing (manufacturing process, factories and, most importantly, labour), their approach attracts socially conscious fans. With transparency about pricing (manufacturing costs for each product together with the company’s profit), however, Everlane proves that its objective is not to take advantage of its customers, thus instantly earning their trust.
5. Content that develops trust: is straightforward, succinct and to-the-point
Everlane’s take on transparency is brilliant, but you don’t have to build your entire philosophy around it. Honesty is an effective way of attracting customers. Even if you don’t make it your Unique Selling Point (USP), staying honest with your followers will stand you in good stead.
It comes down to professionalism and respectability. Both are established through content that says what it means and means what it says. However complex your topic is, avoid vague language; be succinct and stay to-the-point.
6. Content that develops trust: doesn’t insult the reader’s intelligence
Quality suffers from quantity, and that’s content marketing’s biggest trap. Those who fall into it are mostly overwhelmed by the workflow, which is something we can all relate to.
If content is your brand’s main building block, then “don’t insult the reader’s intelligence” is your number one rule. Your audience expects quality, it rarely forgives inconsistency and it’s up to you to respect that. Whatever it is you’re writing about, it needs to be highly relevant.
7. Content that develops trust: is consistent and uses a unique recognisable style
Finding your own, unique voice is one of the biggest aspects of building a brand. Your message can exude luxury or promise adventure – regardless of what kind of experience you choose to provide, it still needs to be recognisable and consistent.
These requirements are the two sides of the coin: the one that attracts and the one that converts. More importantly, they both speak on behalf of your prowess, creativity and dedication. Content that’s easily recognisable is the one that’s original and inventive, while consistency showcases your passion and professionalism.
8. Content that develops trust: is relatable and uses a more personal tone
The last characteristic of content that develops trust serves as a comedy relief for both you and your readers. It’s what allows you to break the character as an expert and reveal yourself as a human. This “relatability” strategy is often used in social media campaigns, but can be effective in content marketing too.
While trying to write about complicated things in plain words and short sentences, if the topic allows, a bit of humour can make your content interesting and help readers relate. Humour triggers emotions and reminds your audience that their content provider is a person, just like them.
The same goes for first-person writing and using a direct tone. It’s much easier to trust advice when somebody gives it from personal experience, isn’t it? Whenever you can, back up your points with your own real-life examples. Address your audience as if you were talking to them face-to-face, and they’ll find you friendly and affable. Brands are built to appeal to real people, so don’t try to stand higher than them.
The importance of brand trust can’t be overstressed. If you choose to build it with content, than make sure it conveys your passion and expertise in an honest, succinct, unique and relatable way.